Eclecticism

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Eclecticism

Post  MOJO the Moderator on Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:43 pm

In the "Pleasure and Pain" documentary, JP Plunier says that he and Ben (and company) are trying to take eclecticism and do it justice...

Ben has always been able to blend the lines between genres with great success. Some fans like his bluesy stuff the most, some think he's at his best when he's being mellow, others love to see Ben rock out. But I think we can all agree that one of the many things that makes Ben Harper such a special musician is his ability to write songs in so many different styles and do it so well. He follows his feelings and his instincts, fearlessly, and the result is, more often than not, magic (see; Relentless7).

So, I'm curious...
What is your favourite Ben Harper genre?
What genre would your favourite songs fall under?

A short list (in no particular order) for me would be;

Rock
Serve Your Soul
Keep It Together
Touch From Your Lust
Ground On Down
Please Bleed
Forgiven

Soft Rock/Folk
Amen Omen
Roses From My Friends (acoustic)
Woman in You
Cryin' Won't Help You Now
She's Only Happy in the Sun
Pleasure and Pain

Soul/Gospel
Show Me a Little Shame
I Shall Not Walk Alone (with Blind Boys)
Sexual Healing

Many of my favourite songs don't seem to fit into any one standard category... Better Way, Excuse Me Mr., Oppression, etc., and still others fit in to more than one category because Ben has masterfully produced more than one version of the song... I Shall Not Walk Alone (album, Blind Boys, reggae), Another Lonely Day (IC's and R7), With My Own Two Hands (album/reggae, lullaby), Suzie Blue (album/dixieland jazz, acoustic), Picture of Jesus (album/African, Blind Boys)...

I've added a video of Ben doing a little Motown. This one is probably familiar to many of you... but for those of you who haven't seen it, I hope you enjoy it!!!

"Rock and roll is free if you want it."

-MOJO the Moderator

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Re: Eclecticism

Post  MCTolen on Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:47 pm

I suppose my overall favorite genre of Ben Harper is more his rock or folk/rock side since 1st and foremost I think of him as a "rock" musician. However, certainly what does make Ben so special is his ability to take on other genres so completely and full on. Growing up I was always more into the bands that were more rootsy and eclectic and were constantly reinventing themselves (ie, REM, U2, Led Zeppellin, Talking Heads, the Police). And although these bands were constantly pushing the boundaries of rock music by reinventing their sound, style and dynamics or "incorporating" more elements of folk or various world music, I realize now that they simply don't match the level and commitment that Ben Harper has accomplished. Those aforementioned bands, as great in their own right as they are, still generally operated within the "rock" framework whereas Ben can go completely outside of that and do completely different genres from song to song.
I really believe that Ben was/is way ahead of his time. I remember when I first started listening to him I had never heard such wild eclectisism. At first, it was a bit daunting and frustrating. I remember at first wishing and wondering why he just didn't rock out all the time. Especially early on when he only had a hand full of full tilt rock songs like Ground on Down and Faded. But it challenged me and intrigued me to the point that I began to connect with more and more of the songs and it really opened me up to other genres that this small town white boy had never fully immersed myself into (most importantly reggae). Then one day, it simply "clicked" and I've been obsessed ever since. This all occured before the time of the iPod or even before it became so easy to burn mix CD's with lots of different artists and genres. That's why I think Ben was really ahead of his time and how I think more and more people with todays technology when you can shuffle all your music artists and hear completely different styles from song to song will come to want that kind of eclecticism.
Its actually strange to me now when I play Ben Harper or give mixes of his music to friends and some don't quite get it or immediately recognize the brilliance like I do. Then I just have to remember that it took me a while too and everyone has to connect with all of Ben's music over time just like I did.

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Re: Eclecticism

Post  SOLAT319 on Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:23 am

This is a great topic!

The way Ben spread his wings over the entire spectrum of musical genres is amazing to me. The man has many talents. But I think it's a bit of the genes he carries too. I mean look at his background, his family. Growing up in that type of environment, I'm sure helped him become the multifaceted artist that he is today.
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