GENE SIMMONS On The Secret To Creating Iconic Rock Anthems: “The Hardest Thing To Do Is A Simple Song”

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Gene Simmons, the driving force behind some of rock’s most legendary anthems, has always prioritized crafting unforgettable songs over indulging in musical complexity. In an engaging discussion with Adam Carolla, Simmons shared his insights on the art of songwriting and the misconception that complexity equates to quality, as detailed by Ultimate Guitar.

“The hardest thing to do is to do a simple song. It’s easier to be in a prog band. Really. Because you’re not playing the game of ‘memorable,’ you’re playing the game like jazz, of showing off. You don’t expect somebody to walk out of a jazz concert humming [sings a jazz horn line with many notes]. You don’t expect that,” Simmons explained, highlighting the challenge and skill involved in creating music that resonates with listeners.

He emphasized that many legendary musicians, from The Beatles to Jimi Hendrix, couldn’t read or write music yet managed to create timeless songs. “So the hardest thing to do and you have to respect the art of it, if it’s a Bruno Mars tune or, you know, whoever is that hearing it once and the melody — especially the chorus — sticks. And the art of that, it just happens. Like all these musicians, The Beatles and whoever you like, Lennon, Jagger/Richards, can’t read a stick of music. I can’t read or write music. Nobody could. Hendrix couldn’t read or write music. No, you just do it. It’s like being able to write a book in another language, although you can’t read or write in another language because it’s verbal.”

Simmons further elaborated on the appeal and effectiveness of simplicity in music, using The Beatles as a prime example. “Well, I believe that in the same way that strippers don’t walk out naked, the last thing you want to do is to have the public know too much about you. So, when you really try to do something really simple and bombastic, you don’t want them to know all this other stuff, because the mind or the imagination of those less qualified to understand would say, ‘Well, why are you only using three chords?’ That’s called country notes, three chords, and a story. So again, some of the biggest songs The Beatles ever wrote, maybe the masters of them all, only had three chords. [Sings] ‘My love don’t give me presents.’ ‘She’s a Woman,’ three chords.”

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