True story: When I was seven or eight years old, I found my calling. I was inspired to become a drummer by Micky Dolenz, the drummer for The Monkees.
Or so I thought.
It turns out the music on the early Monkees albums was not actually played by Micky, Davy, Mike and Peter. Instead, like the vast majority of rock and pop albums in the ’60s and early ’70s, it was played by a group of professional studio musicians who became collectively known as the Wrecking Crew, which included drummer Hal Blaine, whom many consider “the most recorded drummer in history.” Seriously, if you listened to an hour of music on the radio in the ’60s, you probably heard about 40 minutes of Hal on drums. Check out this partial discography, to give you some idea of just how omnipresent his drumming was.
As I grew older and more serious about music, I began to pay far more attention to who was playing drums on the records I liked. I would take deep dives into the recorded works of particular favorites like Hal, who has had an indelible imprint on my own drumming. And I was fortunate enough to grow up in the age of vinyl record albums, most of which came with this mystical, magical thing called “liner notes,” which told you who did what on that record. <begin grumpy old fart rant> If you ask me, one of the biggest downsides of the transition to digital music is the death of liner notes. </end rant>
Although I eventually was allowed to take some drum lessons, and went on to attend a major music conservatory, I determined early on that while books and theory were nice, there was no substitute for directly studying the work of the artists who were actually out there DOING the thing I wanted to do.
When I started getting serious about writing, I took that belief along with me. While I’m an admitted geek about writing how-to’s that explore the theory and mechanics of this thing we do, the way I learn the most useful lessons about writing is to read the books of authors I admire, and then ask, “how did she DO that?”
Which is why I’m embarrassed to admit to a major blind spot in my study of writing. It’s something I’ve known about myself, but have long ignored. But something happened a couple weeks ago that woke me up to what a significant gap it really is, and made me aware that it was time to change my behavior.
So what was it? Just an episode of a show that’s been off the air for 15 years. [Read more…]