August 2013: Sequels of Relevance

Summer is the time of the blockbuster.  Hollywood bankrolls the other 9 months of the year based on what happens between June and August.  Without fail each summer, there is a huge tentpole film that opens up to huge numbers and smashes box office records and predictions.  Before the ink is even dry on the opening night numbers, film executives are busy cooking up ways to recreate the magic.  But, capturing the zeitgeist is a risky and difficult venture.  Rarely do the second go-rounds measure up to the original success on a creative level.  They make gobs of money, but they often trail off rather quickly and are even more quickly forgotten.

There are exceptions such as The Godfather II, The Dark Knight, Toy Story II, The Empire Strikes Back and so on.  But they are very lonely exceptions.  More often than not you’re left with a schlepped together, rushed half wit script and success coasting cast and crew.  Despite this widespread common knowledge, Hollywood markets to us with such fervor that we keep getting excited for the inevitable letdown each time it happens.  (Hangover 2 anyone?).

As consumers and fans, we take that same mentality into our music purchases.  When an artist puts out a transcendent album that we truly dig, we clamor for the follow-up while they’re still touring the record and haven’t even begun writing the next one in most cases.  But, our reactions to music’s second acts are more hasty, volatile and visceral.

Each successive record after one we dig is a fork in the road.  If the artist puts out an album that is all too similar to the first one, they face the criticism that they were just trying to recreate the first album and lack originality.  If they change sounds or broaden their scope, they face cries of sell-out.  It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario artists face.  Thankfully, most have the courage to just do what they feel in their soul and not pander to market demands.

It is sad to see talented artists sometimes write, record, release and tour records they feel no personal connection to.  They are chasing popularity instead of being natural.  Fans responded to what came from your heart the first time around, stick to that.  Don’t pander, plot or concoct a ploy to maintain relevance.

There is nothing sadder than a poser.

And in this industry, even this scene, I’ve seen/heard plenty of artists in the midst of writing for their next record fret about not having a certain type of song.  If they’ve written 12 killer tunes, sometimes they feel obligated to write a song about a truck, a river, a backroad, cold beer or hellraising…even if they’re not feeling it.  Without fail, it is easy to spot these tracks as they pop up on albums and one of the umpteen Texas Radio charts.

Being something  you’re not is not admirable.  We’d only like to see a sequel if it is something that speaks to you.  Don’t write an album of cheese that you’ve grown past.  Don’t be like Hollywood and Nashville chasing that uncapturable dragon just because you think that’s what people want you to do.  Listen to your heart, follow it…and your fanbase will too.


-Greenfest 13 was a rousing success.  I’ve already profusely thanked everyone involved for making it our biggest, best yet.  Plans are already underway for GF14!

-Football season is upon us.  Baseball is about to hit the pennant run time…it’s a glorious time to be a sports fan.

-My mom suffers from MS.  It has robbed her of mobility and forced her into an early retirement.  I am participating in an MS Walk in her honor.  If you’d be so inclined to donate…you can do so HERE.  Thanks to the many kind-hearted folks who have already donated!

-Another charitable effort I’m involved in this month is the 1-112 CAV Golf Tournament benefiting Wounded Warriors in Bryan/CS on Friday August 30th.  Still in search of auction items from bands.  Details HERE.

-Gary Floater not being in the Country Music Hall of Fame is a travesty.

-I can tell that our Texas Music core is getting older.  We all talk about our kids, working out and Advocare more than partying and booze.  It’s a good change.  Bocephus was dealing with this 30 years ago.

-I’m excited for you to hear more from our new writers, Dallas and Allison.  They’re going to be bringing you some cool stuff.

-Our forums are back in action!  HOLLER!

This month’s recommended album:  Guy Clark-My Favorite Picture of You.  Guy Clark is the dean of Texas songwriters and shows why yet again on his latest release.  The deeply personal and introspective nature of the lyrics on this collection show how much ground all the younger guys still have to make up to even touch Clark’s footsteps.  The title track is inspired by an actual photo of his late wife Susanna. Reportedly, legend has it the photo in question was snapped Polaroid style by Guy right after an angry Susanna caught he and Townes Van Zandt in the midst of mid afternoon drunken delirium.  Clark’s voice, never smooth, has aged like a fine wine that has a stout bit of tannin.  Every emotion drips from his lips and runs through lowgrit sandpaper before it hits your ears.  You feel each word on this album.  Is it possible Guy Clark has saved his best for latest?

-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”-Mark Twain

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

18 thoughts on “August 2013: Sequels of Relevance

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