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8 Years

Posted by bmac on May 10, 2008

Apparently, the new Indiana Jones movie is gonna suck. That shouldn’t be surprising, because George Lucas, and Spielberg haven’t done anything worth a shit in longer than I can remember. Their well is dry. Bone dry.

I had this conversation about a week ago with a friend of mine, about the longevity of artists making relevant work. We came up with 8 years. 8 years of good stuff, and then it’s all downhill from there. 8 years seems to be the span of creativity, even for the greats.

The Beatles. 8 years. After that, crappy solo stuff. George Lucas, about 8 years making the first Star Wars trilogy, as well as the Indy movies. After that….. garbage. One of my favorite bands growing up, Van Halen, had about an 8 year run before they started to completely suck.

Try it. Pick an artist, and realistically look at their body of work, and be objective. You may have an emotional attachment to some of the stuff, but try to put that aside, and judge accordingly. You may actually be a Wings fan, but really, McCartney did his best shit in his 8 years with the Beatles. Coppola did his best work in the 8 year span of Godfather I and II. Stevie Wonder was a genius from the mid sixties until “Songs In The Key Of Life,” a little over 8 years, and then, “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” Eric Clapton was great…..for about 8 years, his tenure with the Yardbirds and Cream and Blind Faith.

Try it. Pick some. Tell me I’m wrong.

When an artist dies young, like say, Jimi Hendrix, people always say, “Imagine what he would have done had he lived!” Well, when his 8 years were up, he would have produced the same kind of loungy, hack bullshit that Eric Clapton has been wearily wringing out for 25 years. Same with Morrison, or Janis Joplin. They’d probably be doing horrible reunion tours, or cranking out more greatest hits albums, from their 8 years of creative work.

This is also why reunion tours usually suck. The magic is gone, and you can feel it. The whole thing feels like a forced good time, to use an analogy I think Ace used, like New Years Eve,

There may be exceptions, but they are few and far between, and art is subjective. And there’s no accounting for taste.

35 Responses to “8 Years”

  1. Word

    Word again

  2. dadgum spam box. I went there didn’t I?

  3. bmac said

    Play some online poker while you’re there.

  4. meanie

  5. MCPO Airdale said

    I take it that 8 years is the maximum, not an average. I give you, as an example, Bananarama.

  6. Rosetta said


    Nena – 99 Luftballoons – only 8 days

    I’m not a huge fan of the Stones but they put out quality for a good 15 years.

    Tone Loc – Wild Thing – only 8 weeks (despite sweet Jamie’s Crying sample)

    Billy Joel probably made 12 years.

    Bell Biv Devoe – Poison – only 8 months

    Madonna’s productive years were either 0 or 12.

    The Lords of Acid are pushing 20 years and they still come out with a head banger every now and then.

    Interesting concept though…your 8 year theory. Did you have that conversation over cocktails by chance?

  7. Rosetta said

    Well I’m glad that whole comment is boldfaced.


  8. MCPO Airdale said

    So, nobody answered my questions;
    Is 8 years the limit or an average?
    If it’s an average, is it the mean, the median or the mode?
    If it’s the mean, how many standard deviations off are The Pogues?
    And, finally, What about Naomi?

  9. bmac said

    WordPress is freaking out tonight. Leave for a drink or three, and all hell breaks loose.

    MCPO, 8 years is the average for the best and brightest. Bananarama had maybe 2. Nobody but drunk Irish guys, Ben Stiller, and a select few record store geeks, and you and me and probably Rosetta, have ever even heard of the Pogues.

    Rosetta, you got caught in spam, and yes cocktails were involved, as they are right now.

    Stones: I would argue their last great record was “Exile on Mainstreet” released ’71? That puts them in the 8 year slot easy. “Tattoo You” and “Some Girls” were just OK, not great.

    Lords of Acid? HaHaHaHa!!! You kill me!

    Madonna was worthless after “Like a Prayer” again, easily within the 8 year mark.

    Billy Joel, really, “Iron Curtain” was his last great record, and that was what…84? Ten years, close enough.

    Nena and Tone-Loc, totally under-rated.

    PJ, “Meanie” seems a little harsh, my feelings are hurt.

  10. Hey I liked the Pogues……..wait, does that mean I’m a record store geek? prolly

    I don’t like the spambox. It’s dark in here.

    meanie, meanie, bully :p

    Oh Snap

  11. bmac said

    meanie, meanie, bully :p

    Hey, I saw that URL you tried to get me with! 🙂

  12. Yeah but the first URL was appropriate…….am I right or am I right? 😉

  13. bmac said

    You’re so right.
    I hated that Harrison album, and the aural torture that was the Travelling Wilburys was even worse.

  14. My favorite bumper sticker:

    Hey YOU! Out of the gene pool!

  15. cranky said

    Alright, PJ. Doodie. In the pool. Get out.

  16. Nigel said

    Exception…Tom Petty…

    I’ll not leave a link, I’m already suffering from radiation poisoning…

  17. Sean M. said

    When an artist dies young, like say, Jimi Hendrix, people always say, “Imagine what he would have done had he lived!”

    I’ve always argued that Jimi’s death was a relatively good thing because it spared us the inevitable Hendrix disco album. [Shudder]

  18. bmac said

    Yeah, I would consider Petty an exception Nigel.

    I’d say his last album that mattered was “Full Moon Fever”, released ’89. So he had a good twelve year run.

    After that it was pretty generic stuff, but again, it’s totally subjective.

  19. kishnevi said

    The 8 year thing is something that just afflicts modern pop. Consider almost any classical musician–generally, they were just starting to hit their stride when the 8 year mark came up. Verdi produced his best work at an age that would make the Rolling Stones of today look like tykes.

    I do think part of the 8 year thing is due to the nature of bands being groups of semi-competing egos. It’s hard enough for one person on their own to keep it up, but to keep a group together but not sitting on their duffs may be more than human effort is capable of.

    BTW, what about Springsteen?

  20. bmac said


    Well, first I’d have to admit I think Springsteen is hugely over rated, and full disclosure, I hate him and his music with the ferocious intensity of a thousand burning suns. His lyrics are trite, his music is bad Jersey shore crap, and I hate that I had to spend the summer of ’84 listening to awful shit like “Glory Days” so many times, I was ready to put on a diaper and drive to Jersey looking for him.

    That being said:

    He peaked with “Born In The USA” at least commercially, well within his 8 years. He pretty much hasn’t been able to give away his records since.

    Whether anyone thinks he’s still making good music is a matter of taste, but the public ain’t buyin’ it.

    If you like Bruce, ummm…no offense!

  21. I’ll not leave a link, I’m already suffering from radiation poisoning…


  22. Rosetta said

    I hate him and his music with the ferocious intensity of a thousand burning suns.

    Man, I’m telling you. We’re brothers~!! I am a fanatical music lover and there are artists in every genre that I like.

    And there are very few artists whose music I actively hate but the Boss is one. I can’t stand his music and I don’t get why so many people are huge fans of his music. Why do the people that like him so much like him? I honestly don’t understand the attraction.

    I have about 11,500 songs on my i-Pod and zero Bruce Springsteen. In my honest and correct opinion, he sucks donkey junk.

  23. bmac said

    In my honest and correct opinion, he sucks donkey junk.

    Amen Brother!!!!

    I swear I could write a four page post on how much I hate that guy!

    And he can’t sing either.

    I just had a conversation with the first New Yorker I’ve ever met who hated Springsteen this weekend.

    It was refreshing.

  24. Rosetta said

    Hahahaha. I’m more likely to admit that I’m a conservative in the company of strangers than I am to say that I think the Boss is gay.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people say they like the Boss because they think they’re supposed to like the Boss.

    He can’t carry Joe Walsh’s cock ring.

  25. bmac said

    He can’t carry Joe Walsh’s cock ring.

    Oh yeah dude, we’re most definitely brothers!
    Joe Walsh rules!

  26. MCPO Airdale said

    people like Springsteen because of the political content of his stuff. He’s a serious leftist tool. I have 30 hours of music on my iPod and.not.one.Springsteen.song.

  27. Enas Yorl said

    Ditto all that above re: Bruce Springsteen, but I will admit one guilty pleasure – I’m On Fire. It’s a really short song though.

  28. bmac said

    It’s agreed then, we all hate that Jersey Jackass!

    How’s it goin’ Enas? Haven’t seen ya in a while.

  29. I have about 11,500 songs on my i-Pod and zero Bruce Springsteen. In my honest and correct opinion, he sucks donkey junk.

    His Mp3 player however, is completely devoted to Bruce Springsteen.

  30. dammit

  31. bmac said

    Fixed it for ya! 🙂

  32. Tarkus said

    Just discovered your site and am loving it! I just wonder why no one has mentioned Rush? In addition, I think Van Halen has been strong after the 8 year mark- just not AS strong…

  33. bmac said

    Thanks Tarkus.

    Ok, I’ll mention Rush. Again, it’s subjective, but for me, “Moving Pictures” was the last great Rush album. Like Van Halen’s Roth/Hagar thing, Rush is broken up into pre-Moving Pictures, and post Moving Pictures.

    Moving Pictures was 81, so that fits nicely into the 8 years, and was easily their biggest record, for what that’s worth.

  34. Tarkus said

    Makes sense, however to die hard Rush fans – having to choose their favorite Rush album is like asking them which of their testicles they favor over the other. In addition, two of my favorite VH songs are the ones that were writtent during the first Roth reunion attemp around 96-97 – “Me wise Magic” and “Can’t get this stuff no more”. If they can continue with the vibe on those tunes their 8 years might just start over for me. Cheers

  35. madne0 said

    Interesting post. Got me thinking about bands that were able to escape the “curse” and could only come up with not very mainstream names…Opeth is one. Been around for 12-13 years, and still kicking ass. Same thing for Porcupine Tree. First album in the late 80’s and the new one (released in 2007) is their strongest.
    Hey, got another one! Enslaved. 15+ years old, and stronger then ever.

    OK, guess i’m done now…

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