Monthly Archives: August 2017

freakonomics email about soft porn


On Jul 10, 2013, at 2:35 PM, Stephen Dubner wrote:

         nice idea, thnx, sjd

On Jul 7, 2013, at 9:23 AM, Bob Wiseman wrote:

Hi Freakanomics

I have an idea for an episode (if you didn’t explore it already).

Sometimes musicians say things to me such as “I’m going to write some hits because I just want the money”.

It is a very weird statement it assumes writing a hit is simple (maybe) but the bigger leap of faith is the assumption it travels somewhere by virtue of being good. I believe soft porn is even more responsible for hit songs than musicality. Otherwise how to explain what I observe especially the last 30 years of the hit parade.

This combined with repetition, (advertising) is how hits are made. Or not?

Here is a current “new music star” making my point.

and a flip side to this story, seems to me, is that “new artists” are almost always good looking young people. Are there no new artists to discover who are older and fat?


veg stock old songs

Make room for the fresh, stop imagining the old is ok. I go through the fridge and grab everything that’s dying, wilting as well as some decent pieces and boil it up then through a sieve. Presto, vegetable stock. I do the same thing with songs I’ve collected that have stayed a long time unfinished.


One time someone hired me to play for their record. Could I come Saturday and Sunday afternoon? Yes I could. They didn’t offer to pay anything and so I expected to do it for free, I liked their music, thought they had some great compositions. It was a band of about 5 people. The composer wanted me to play without knowing anything about the music. I understand that sort of thinking but the music wasn’t simple, had key changes and rhythmic changes which everyone else knew and rehearsed, I felt like my improvising was very uninteresting and was clashing. I tried to honour the request but we did it over and over, I couldn’t improvise it well, wasn’t working for anyone. (also not my main instrument, was asked to play this on melodica.) Last effort to improve things asked questions again about where the changes were but the composer stuck to their concept didn’t want me to know what’s coming when.
The composer smoked more hash or pot with his buddy the engineer and insisted I continue in a vacuum. The air was tense until sheepishly one of the other musicians whispered the changes to me. I played it better. The composer got into barking at the members of his band. I didn’t like any of this and decided if I’m doing this free the least you can do is not act like an asshole. He walked me to the door downstairs at the end of the day and double checked starting times for tomorrow. I said no I’m not returning. He grasped what had happened and then became a little boy trying to get permission to stay up later than bedtime, that tonality. Please please come, I’m sorry I’m really sorry, please!
Said bye, didn’t return. That’s one of the ways I acquire enemies but I care more about feeling honest with myself than being ok with assholiness.