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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2008/06/23
by Mike Gruenberg

Keep It Simple

In My Life

We live in an ever increasing complex society. Political issues and business dilemmas seem to warrant a myriad amount of thought and strategy to try to solve the issues at hand. I have always felt that the concept of “a straight line is the shortest distance between two points” is probably the best way to endeavor to solve an issue in either my personal, professional or business lives. Too often, I have sat in business meetings where the issue of the day is overanalyzed with graphs, flow charts and whitepaper studies when all that was really needed was a more simplified approach to solving the problem. To me, most flow charts are created to confuse rather than enlighten. Some call it analysis paralysis.

One only needs to look at today’s world events to illustrate the way some of us have become enamored with more investigation than is actually needed. For example, Hillary Clinton ran a valiant campaign to become her party’s nominee for President. At this juncture in her quest, the issue of paying the monetary debts from her campaign has arisen. Apparently it takes an incredible amount of money to run for President and the Clintons owe millions of dollars. It has been proposed that the Democratic Party help pay off the debts. Some are saying Obama should help her by sponsoring fund-raisers. Others have suggested that some of the Clintons’ celebrity friends could organize fund-raising events, as well. The problem is simple and the solution even simpler. If you incur a debt, you need to pay it off. No one forced her to run for President. She did it on her own volition. When I run up my AMEX bill, I cannot ask others to help me pay it. My debt is my responsibility. Moreover, the Clintons have the financial resources to cover the debt. The solution for Hillary is simple and it is in three words..Write a check!

Recently, a guy climbed a skyscraper in New York City to call attention to global warming. While I applaud any effort to educate people on the environmental dangers facing our planet, there must be an alternative way to publicize this issue that will not put innocent bystanders in jeopardy. If the climber would have accidentally fallen and landed on some people innocently making their way to work, how would that have helped reduce global warming? In this case, the solution to the climber is simple and it is also in three words.Don’t climb skyscrapers!

Clearly, the more complex issues of the day need significant analysis and I am not suggesting that every problem can be solved with three words, but clear thought and careful understanding will go a long way to resolving issues without resorting to the overuse of graphs, charts and wasting peoples’ time.. It is the same in music. How many times have you listened to an album that has been over produced? I am always reminded of how Phil Spector completely over produced the Beatles’ album “Let It Be.” The syrupy string arrangements did nothing to enhance the album. One only has to listen to “Let It Be. Naked” the sequel to the original stripped out of Phil’s’ unnecessary grandiose plan to see that beneath it all was a good album. Three wordsKeep It Simple!

Recently, I came across an album called “A Hot Night in Paris” by The Phil Collins Big Band. Dating back to his days in Genesis, I have always appreciated Phil Collins. His success as a soloist in the 80’s was quite remarkable. He had the voice that took full advantage of the techno pop genre’ popular at the time. Apparently, his success from those years gave him license to pursue other musical interests which resulted in this album that came out in 1999. Much like Charlie Watts from the Stones, Phil has been a devotee of big band jazz. He credits Buddy Rich and Sonny Payne as his inspiration for making this album. Having the financial resource to pursue a project like this is one of the fringe benefits for people like Mr. Collins.

The album includes a veritable who’s who of musicians and arrangers playing many of the Phil Collins’ written songs (along with some written in conjunction with Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford) that made him popular in the 80’s. He also includes “Milestones” written by Miles Davis and the now standard “Pick Up the Pieces” first made popular by the Average White Band.

The following site: http://www.garciamusic.com/hot.topics/pcbb/pcbb.html
gives a great accounting of the production, tour schedule and description of members of the band.

The beauty of this record lies in its simplicity. Many musicians contributed to a clean, well produced album. There are no unnecessary fillers or overblown solos. Phil’s hits are tastefully done. I can speculate that it is probable that the album was not a million seller. However, it is one of those rare gems that still can be found at the used record store or downloaded from i-Tunes. In essence, Phil & company kept it simple and produced a most uncomplicated record to help ease us all into living in a complicated world.

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