I saw Sonja Aldén performing in the Annedal chuch in Gothenburg last night. A great singer, great musicians, great choir, superb performance, but there's just something missing. To be frank, if you live a content Medelsvensson* life in an average place like Huddinge, I don't think you're cut to create anything great. The best songs were written by others. Don't get me wrong, it's still super professional and very well done, but when it comes to music you need something more. After all, it doesn't matter how good of a sculptor you are, if the raw stone isn't good enough.
But how is this raw stone created? I don't know. But take Peter Le Marc as an example. He comes from another small place (Trollhättan), just as boring as his music was. But then Something happened - divorce, alcohol, inner struggle - and he creates a masterpiece, Det som håller oss vid liv, 6 years after his last record.
Bruce Springsteen is another example. His Nebraska album is a classic, but then he just got too rich, lead a too boring life and nothing really worth mentioning has come from him. Sure, some big hits, some very well made songs, but still - bad raw material. U2 after Achtung Baby. Depeche Mode after The Violator.
What happens? When they reach the fame and money they dreamt about they stop? My guess is they come into a crisis, realizing that life is still just the same - after all they are just the same they always were. The rest is just superfluous flowery surface. Then they need a few decades and then suddenly they do a masterpiece again. From Elvis in Memphis and Dusty (Springfield) in Memphis in 1969, as two superb examples. Johnny Cash through American Recordings from 1994 onwards, as another.
Good music is not born from easy lives. Sad but true?
* Medelsvensson is the Swedish Mr Smith, the average Joe.