Quote of the day

From singing convention patriarch Eugene McCammon, a prolific composer and renowned music educator in the convention-singing world:

After having listened to gospel radio most of yesterday afternoon, I am still convinced that a third-rate song with first-rate production yields a third-rate song.

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  1. JJ wrote:

    Amen, and amen.

  2. SG Obzerver wrote:

    This is what I refer to as the “Wayne Haun Syndrome” courtesy of the “Wayne Haun Wall of Sound”

  3. JJ wrote:

    Not really.

    Producers like Barry Weeks (Booth Brothers, Brian Free) use a “wall of sound.” Producers like Wayne Haun and Lari Goss use other techniques to bolster songs.

    Weeks comes from a pop angle and is more aggressive in grabbing the listening spectrum. Goss and Haun come from an orchestral or choral sensibility, and they seem to choose certain motifs for their arrangements, hoping to add layers of interest.

    The real question is why artists persist in cutting third-rate songs. If the producer can’t convince the artist to drop a weak song, the producer and the musicians are forced to make it sound as strong as possible, because they are being paid for their expertise. As a result, the artist and the record label think they’ve been proven right and release it to radio (especially if the artist has written the song). Vicious cycle.

  4. Shawn wrote:

    Mr. McCammon is a genius. I was privileged to sit under his teaching at the Stamps-Baxter singing school for 3 years, and now have been teaching there for seven years… While a student of his, I amassed pages of stories and quotes, both funny and thought-provoking. Great guy and a great songwriter!

  5. Odeliya wrote:

    You got my absolute admiration, Sir. Brilliantly said, simple and to the point:)

    I dont know what songs in particular you were referring to , but while there are many great SG songs, i see a ton of dreck, too.

    Your eloquent phrase so well reflects the modern state of affairs in all genres - many believe that owning Pro Tools, Cubase, etc. is a substitute for a talent.

    Just as owning the newest photo equipment and lenses dont make a great reporter, incredible video effects and animation dont make a talented movie. Great technology is just a tool to assist in already existing talent

  6. Just Curious wrote:

    This is a topic that I see regularly on several SG blogs and forums. And as someone who derives some of my income from writing songs, many of those SG, I would appreciate it if some of you strongly opinionated folks would cite specific examples for me - both the “third-rate” “dreck” and, what you consider to be, great songs. I would love to study both and maybe try to emulate the “great” even if it pulls me out of my comfort zone.

  7. Casual Observer wrote:

    If A&R (Artist & Repertoire) Directors, record label execs, and producers would do their jobs there would be less 3rd rate material on the radio. You cannot expect an artist to be objective about a song they have written. That’s where a respected A&R Director should step in and tell “the king” that he’s wearing no clothes. But artists have egos (that’s what motivates most of them to seek a platform) and A&R Directors usually do little more than serve coffee and tell them how wonderful they are. Few producers are long-sited enough to invest the energy required to steer misguided artist toward wiser song choices….they’re hustling to finish charts and line up their next project before next month’s rent comes due. As long as everyone who’s ever owned a radio believes they can write a song, we’ll continue to have 3rd rate material. The best way to expose the bad stuff, and ultimately make it unacceptable to pass that junk off as legitimate, is to have a few incredibly written songs released throughout the year. Side-by-side comparisons are starkly revealing. Sometimes people don’t realize they’re being served slop until they begin to smell steak.

  8. quartet-man wrote:

    Since the Gatlins “retired” I thought that they would have lasted a lot longer if they didn’t pretty much exclusively record Larry’s songs. Don’t get me wrong, he has some really great ones. Those and the performances they did, showed what they were capable of. However, to me, there are far too many songs on their CD’s that just didn’t do it for me. Maybe sometimes the arrangements might have played a part too, but out of all their albums, I would probably be hard pressed to fill an 80 minute CD of great ones. Maybe I could, it has been a long time, but I will say that I like far less songs of theirs on most albums than I like. However, on the Gatlins Come Home Homecoming CD, I loved most of it. Of course it had some great other singers on it, but great songs and Larry was like a kid in a candy shop. :) It actually is one of my favorite Homecoming DVD’s (as a whole.) Then again, I prefer the ones of particular artists (GVB, Cathedrals etc.) than not although most Homecoming ones have at least SOME good songs on them.

  9. Mark wrote:

    Just Curious #6, great to hear your openness to grow as a writer.

    Here’s a song worth studying:
    “Born to Climb” recorded by Jeff & Sheri Easter. The title is memorable, and the lyric and melody are perfectly matched. The melody feels familiar enough for the genre and yet sounds fresh; lyrically, the scriptural substance is there, and when the hook lands (”Don’t be afraid of the mountain, ’cause friend you were born to climb”) it takes the song to an emotional payoff that is universal and timeless. And although nominations and awards don’t always go to the best songs, this one deserved to win (and did win) this year’s Dove Award for SG Recorded Song of the Year for the Easters, Haun and Lindsey.

  10. cynical one wrote:

    On this same topic, I remember, about 5 years ago, hearing Haun’s production/arranging of a then new cd from an artist who’d previously been top-tier (or close to it), and telling him I thought he’d done his job well, but that the writer-artist hadn’t. He politely smiled and thanked me, but nothing else was said, because said artist was in the same room. That artist was high on those songs. He thought it was one of the best cd’s they’d ever done. If memory serves me correctly, that was one the guy had done on his own, after leaving a major label, so he probably have to listen to anyone who wasn’t on his payroll, about the quality of the songs. I yawned.

  11. Jim wrote:

    SG has no A&R directors.

  12. Casual Observer wrote:

    Jim (#11) - that’s technically not true, but practically…debatable

  13. Odeliya wrote:

    you got great advice already, but i’d only add -dont overdo on trying to emulate others, this way you lose your identity, uniqueness, part of you that gives you a cutting edge( presuming you are a good songwriter).
    Copycats will never be as good as the originals.

    Ty to be yourself, but GOOD yourself, the best you can :)
    As for what is dreck what is a masterpiece .. Only by learning and practicing the skill, listening and being involved one can learn to distinquish one from the other.

    But of course, as it was mentioned, popular and sellable doesn’t always equal “good” . People made fortunes selling junk of the music industry, as long as its appealing to masses.
    Same with food industry, btw :))

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