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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2008/08/22
by Mike Gruenberg

On Behalf of the Band, We Really Want To Thank

In My Life
Before I can even begin to listen to any new album, I need to sit down, make myself comfortable, look at the disc, read about the musician credits, see the artwork and examine all the liner notes. Few facts about the production of the album escape me. I need to know who produced the music I am about to hear. Who is the engineer? Are there any familiar studio musicians on this album that I may have heard before on other records? These are questions that have been answered for me a myriad number of times over the years as I dutifully tear open the protective wrapping on CD and LP alike in preparation for my listening pleasure.
One of the aspects of reading all the material on the album that I find most amusing and telling is the part where the artists take time to thank all the people who seemingly had something to do with the making of the album. The names most often mentioned are the record company executives. This is the most obligatory of items since it is in the artists best interest to thank their bosses, whether they like them or not. After all, a record company executive scorned is the one that may not sign the band to another three album deal. Next in line for acknowledgement is the record company usually followed by family and friends.
I have often wondered how genuine these words of appreciation really are. I decided to look back at some albums to find some of the more honest, amusing, subtle and perhaps disingenuous thanks that I have come across. Here are a few examples of thanks:
The Arctic Monkeys on their Whatever People Say I Am, Thats What Im Not album take up a considerable amount of space to thank 45 different people including their families and then say Thanks To anyone whos ever given us a lift or anything and to those who believed in us from the early days They can say what they want now but theyll never do what weve done. Sounds like the lads had some rough times early in their career, and some bitterness from those days remain. Bitter or not, the music on this album is excellent.
Ray Davies, founder of The Kinks on his The Storyteller album not only mixes music and stories on this offering, but continues in that same story telling vein on the liner notes. He speaks of his long relationship with his departed friend, Frank Smyth in a most touching way and then dedicates the album to not only Frank but also to those many others who have tried to help and encourage me to become an individual. The acknowledgements written by Davies portray him as a sensitive and caring individual thus giving us a glimpse into the personality of this rocknroll legend.

On the Velvet Revolvers Contraband album, the entire back cover is filled with recognitions and acknowledgements. True to trying to make the boss happy, record company President, Clive Davis is the first name mentioned. Not only is his the first name on the list, but the band has sucked up to Clive big time as they refer to him as the Godfather. The band then thanks a whole bunch of people and ends the paragraph by acknowledging the record company by thanking everyone at RCA. They then point out specific groups calling them The Immortals, Legal Masters, Best Supporting Crew, and everyone at Streetwise They then thank some more people and at one point say Cant forget Cathy Nelson so she got added to the list as well. On the bottom half of the page, each member of the group takes time to individually thank their spouses, children, brothers, sisters parents, grandparents, God, teachers, spiritual gurus and many more names too numerous to mention. There were so many names included that it forced the record company to make the print as small as possible to fit them all in which made it necessary for me to use a magnifying glass to try and discern all the names. Finally, so as not to leave ANYONE out, they thank the makers of the drums, drum pedals, specialty drum cases, cymbals, clothing, guitars, guitar strings, amplifiers, cables along with the rehearsal studio. Hope the album sold well because it looks like a lot of folks were intimately involved in its creation.
Dream Theater on their Six Degrees of Turbulence album begin by saying Dream Theater thanks everybody at and exclusively uses: and then lists all the musical instrument manufacturers they use. Unlike the guys in Velvet Revolver, Dream Theater briefly says Thanks to all our friends, fans, fan clubs, fanzines, websites and record company staff all around the world.way too extensive to list here We love you and appreciate your support. I would like to thank Dream Theater for their great music and my eyes thank them as well for being considerate and less verbose than the previously mentioned group.
Hard-Fi, on their Stars of CCTV album gives each musician a chance to thank those near and dear by giving them each a page on the album insert and includes a picture of each guy. All four members of the group weighs in with a brief personalized message although on the last page they follow suit of their musical brethren and acknowledge a whole host of people including the record company everyone at Atlantic Records and finally dedicate the album to two more people.

I particularly like the appreciation shown by each of the musicians in Hard-Fi. Rich Archer, lead singer thanks Jennifer Archer, his brother Steve, family and friends who believed in me and stuck by me through the lean times. I hope you all know who you are, Warren & Wolsey Whod have thought it?! Ross Phillips from the band briefly thanks his parents (mum and dad) and friends and ends by saying Youve all been great. Steve Kemp the drummer gives his thank yous to Mum and Dad for supporting me and all the rest of family and friends who stood by me. Kai Stephens gives the briefest of thanks to his friends by saying you know who you are. And then he thanks himself .In this case, self praise is its own reward.
Many of us have imagined what it would be like to be a professional athlete or rock star. Outside of being on a major sports team by having the ability to hit a baseball, shoot a foul shot, run for a touchdown or skate down the ice on a breakaway in front of 50,000 people, being a rock star is also a dream that for most of us will never be fulfilled. We all took music lessons at least once in our lives and there were the briefest of moments during those lessons where we dreamed of the possibility of performing with a super group or any group at Madison Square Garden or anywhere else in the world. As critics, its easy to poke fun, but the reality is that all of the musical groups mentioned have lived the dream or are still living the dream. I personally thank them all for the music and hope they continue to entertain us and continue to be gracious enough to acknowledge those people who somewhere along the way have helped, inspired and supported them. We are the beneficiaries of that support.

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