On Maroon 5, Art and mad blurry skills

I like chocolate, but I’m not a chocolatier.  I like rum, but I’m not a distiller.  I like dags, but I do not breed hounds.

Is what you’re good at going to be what you like?  Could someone who has never drunk rum make a great one?  Could a blog-hater be the best blogger the world’s ever seen?

Do what you love, they say.

It could be that I would have been the world’s greatest plumber, but I never got to find out.  My girlfriend might be the world’s most dominant computer gamer, but she’ll never know.

But it’s in art that this really applies.  Lots of kids who like listening to Led Zeppelin are out making psychedelic wig-outs as heavy as those of their idols.  Should they?  Maybe they need to make a distinction between what they consume and what they produce.

I’m sure the great jazz musicians get into a bit of Rihanna and I reckon the dudes from Maroon 5 probably rock out to Metallica.  But when it comes time to create, they stick to what they know they can do.

(Haircuts suggest hidden love for Metal keeps Maroon 5 alive.)

Someone’s got to write the childrens books.  Shakespearean actors have to work in the soapies.  Film directors are making commercials.   There must be a lot of people out there writing things that they are brilliant at, but they don’t appreciate.

I really like reading semi-sociological studies, pop-social-science, Malcolm Gladwell style, but when I write those kind of pieces, the blog readership tends to ignore them…

I guess truly great art happens when in one person, their talents and their interests intersect completely.  Monet’s true passion was for blurry.  Fortuitously, he was incredible at it.  He could do them all – blurry ponds, blurry haystacks, blurry lilies.  I suspect this is the precondition for greatness.

It’s a revelation to me that, for mere mortals, what you like consuming is not necessarily what you’re best at creating.   It seems like it should be but it’s not.


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Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

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