Timelessness from Timeliness

I’ve been going through some old CDs, and I’ve gotten rid of quite a few. But I came across one album that surprised me.

It’s The Alarm‘s Eye of the Hurricane.

The Alarm, for those of you not old enough, was a British band from 80’s that were colleagues of early U2.

Anyway, what surprised me was obviously the fact that I am enjoying it, having rediscovered it after it sitting gathering dust for years. I’m usually not a “classic rock” person — most productions that sound dated lose my interest.

And I looked up to see what year it was released — 1987! The same year U2’s The Joshua Tree came out.

Now, let’s stop and think about this. It’s 2008. I’m listening to a piece of music captured from 21 years ago.

And that means my music, too, will be available to listen, exactly the way it is now, 20 years down the road. And more.

Is it just me or does that boggles your mind? What I’m creating today has lasting consequences for ages. Will it stand the test of time? Or in 10 years will it sound dated and old?

I don’t know.

I definitely have my own theories about what makes a recording timeless. And I did keep that in mind while I was recording it.

But at the same time, any recording is of its time — it’s OK for art to react to its surroundings. It’s hard to completely remove yourself and create music that only exists in a bigger, longer flow.

So, how do you find timelessness in being timely?

I won’t list all the compositional, arranging and production tricks to achieve that goal here, but in essence, I think one can achieve that feat by examine the current times and extracting the heart of the issue. The cores of human conditions remain the same — we always celebrate joy, fear fear, struggle with loneliness and fulfilling one’s potential. And I’m not necessarily talking about lyrics, either. If the music reaches out to these core feelings, I think it can remain relevant through ages.

That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t appreciate Shrek very much, nor am I a big fan of parodies that mimic whatever is popular at the time. It is possible, I do think, to be a parody and still achieve timelessness — but it’s hard. They create products like that, mainly to gain quick bucks. 20, 30 years from now, when people watching it are not aware of material they’re parodying, it’ll lose its relevance.

That’s not to say that it’s wrong to do that. It’s art! Follow your muses.

Me, I just like to create something that transcends time. Or at least try to.


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  2. Love on this wasteland holds no dominion
    I refuse to lay me down
    On the grapevine comes the saying
    Son, you’ll reap whatever you sow
    I sow the seeds of my love
    Deep undying true love I sow
    And there’s a HOWL HOWL HOWLING WIND
    A ringing around my ears
    And a wild wild wind is a blowing
    Tearing down my tears

    i had a few alarm albums – declaration i think was the one that ‘howling wind’ was on. i saw them twice – once as the opening act for U2 (1983), and once opening for bob dylan. good lung-clearing songs. sing from your diaphragm…

    downloaded the 3-song file – looking forward to giving it a listen.

    mike rucker
    fairburn, georgia, usa

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