After a theatrical performance, the last song that was performed was "Blown Away." Behind Carrie Underwood, a column of air and smoke rose to look like a tornado, and debris flew around the stage so that the audience felt they were about to be uprooted to Oz. I was very impressed by the entire show, even though Country music is not my first music genre of choice.
|Carrie Underwood performing at the Taco Bell |
Arena in Boise, Idaho for her Blown Away Tour.
I've listened to the song "Blown Away" several times since the performance, and I started thinking about how Carrie Underwood, while she possesses great vocals and a rock star image, isn't the only artist behind the song. Carrie Underwood didn't actually write the song; that credit goes to Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear.
Then I starting thinking about other artists, and how, often, even though one artist is recognized, there is often another artist behind the famous one, who is just as important to the finished art product, and yet no one knows their names.
For instance, many painters have assistants that do portions of paintings or complete paintings all together, which the artist will then put to their name. I remember sitting in an Art 100 Freshman College class, and learning that this was a common practice, even for famous painters of the past. Thomas Kinkade, famously known as the "Painter of Light," who I dislike immensely, is a prime example of this practice in current times. Supposedly, Kinkade is the mastermind behind every design, but anyone who has a Kinkade painting in their home most likely has a painting that was never actually touched by Kinkade's paintbrush, but was completed by an assistant.
This is true of Singers and Artists, but what of Writers?
Composers are to singers, as assistants are to painters, as editors are to writers. Editors are the unrecognized artist behind authors.
Is an editor considered an artist? An editor's name might not be on the final product, but are the editors' ideas and revisions essential to the story?
I know that my short story, "Cricket Song," which was published in The Berkeley Fiction Review with my name, would not have been there if I hadn't had the help from several friends, who circled and scribbled and wrote in the side-bars of my draft.
And what of Raymond Carver, and his editor Gordon Lish? While Raymond Carver is so loved for his minimalist style, after seeing the edits that Gordon Lish recommended to Carver's draft of "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," it becomes apparent that part of Carver's brevity, at least in this story, is due in part to his Editor. If you look at the document, comparing the original draft, and the final version after edits by Gordan Lish, which can be found on The New Yorker's website, it is clear that paragraphs, and even pages, have been removed. Had they remained, would the story be so acclaimed?
I'm not writing about this to demand fairness for the Composers/Painting Assistants/Editors of the world. I am still going to listen to "Blown Away" even though everyone thinks of Carrie Underwood when they hear the song, instead of Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear. I'm not going to boycott Thomas Kinkade pictures because the Painting Assistant didn't sign the painting (I'm going to boycott them because I dislike fairy-tale landscape stock pictures that don't elicit truths I've come to realize about life and love and reality, instead). I'm still going to think of Raymond Carver as a great writer. Not everyone who contributes to an Artists' Product wants to be famous anyway.
But I'd like acknowledge the artists out there-- the ones without their names in bright white lights-- who work on their craft for the sake of the craft. To the editors, and song writers, and painting assistants working in dank studios pushing out stock paintings--and hey, sometimes I'm an editor, too--Cheers to me, and cheers to you!