Who started it for you in lighting the fire for your creative spirit? Who is the source – the person (or people) who initially inspired you to write, to create, to push your skills further?
Who transcends all others when you consider “the greats?” And how old were you when you discovered them?
This is a topic I have been thinking about this week, and the music world is what helped frame it. It ASTOUNDS me that three of the four founders* of rock ‘n roll are still alive, and two of them are still performing live:
Jerry Lee Lewis
These are the people who inspired the people who inspired the people who inspired the people who make great music today.
For instance, I just watched a wonderful documentary on Motörhead’s frontman, Lemmy, and this is what the “chain of influence” looks like:
- 1950s: Little Richard inspired him
- 1970s: Lemmy went on to pioneer heavy metal
- 1980s: Bands such as Metallica consider Lemmy the “source” of their own work
- 2000s: Some bands today are emulating the grit and style of Metallica and 1980’s heavy metal in general
Lemmy makes the point that whoever you grow up listening to becomes the pinnacle of what music is for you. For him, it was The Beatles and Little Richard, even though Lemmy went on to become the hardest of the hard rockers. Someone else in the documentary explains how when you are listening to Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades,” you are really listening to Eddie Cochran, a huge influence on Lemmy in the 1950s when he was growing up.
What has been interesting as I grow older is to see how an initial influence becomes a LIFETIME influence. For instance, I find that most people feel that the music THEY grew up listening to is the BEST music. They tend to feel that artists today pale in comparison to whoever they listened to back in the 90’s, the 80’s, the 70’s, the 60’s, or the 50’s.
I see this in other areas as well. For people of my generation, many feel that the newer Star Wars films are a complete disaster compared to the original series from the 1970s and 1980s. And yet, it is obvious that the plenty of kids who grew up in the 2000s with the newer movies LOVE them, dramatically more so than the older movies.
Which leads me to believe that objectivity doesn’t matter here. The art that inspires you is the art that inspires you. Period.
It doesn’t matter what others think about it’s quality or it’s level of “taste,” if it moves you it moves you.
Who inspires you? Who started you down the path wanting to create and share? How old were you when you first discovered them?
* It is difficult to pin one small group of people as THE founders of rock ‘n roll, but from my experience, these four people are cited often as primary influences. Clearly, many others can be added to the list, with plenty of justification.