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Bebop and the brain — Thelonious Monk’s career advice to working Realtors and lenders: “We wanted a music that they couldn’t play”

We listen to Bebop Jazz in the office. If I talk about music, I tend to talk about Rock ‘n’ Roll or Country, just because they’re more inclusive. Bebop is demanding music even for Jazz, definitely an acquired taste.

Instrumental music is good at work, of course, since you can play it fairly quietly, and since there are no words (except “Salt Peanuts!”) to interfere with your thinking.

I would argue that complex compositions — like Classical or Modern, Progressive or Cool Jazz — will tend to improve the quality of your thoughts, through time, since your mind has to work so much harder to process the music. Constant exercise for the muscle of the mind should make you a stronger thinker. It seems reasonable to me that a familiarity with musical cadences will make you a better writer, as well.

Lately we’ve been tuned into the Bebop station at Yahoo’s LaunchCast on-line radio portal. Like all LaunchCast stations, the playlist could be a lot longer, but it’s a pretty nice representation of the Bebop idea in Jazz: Bird, Monk, Dizzy, Dex, Mingus, Trane, Miles. A little bit of Art Tatum, which I love, and a little Hard Bop, which I loathe. Bud Powell and Cannonball Adderley to show the world how a sound this demanding can still be fun. If you really want to listen, you have to go to your own record collection. But for the office, it’s the best solution we’ve found so far.


Creative Commons License photo credit: MikeLove

That’s all beside the point, though. You either like Jazz or you don’t, and many people don’t. But the quote from Monk in the headline

“We wanted a music that they couldn’t play.”

is practically a mission statement for Web 2.0-empowered Realtors and lenders.

Bebop was born during a musician’s union strike in 1942-43. Players who had been working as sidemen in Big Band and Swing orchestras would spend their idle days together in two Harlem nightclubs, jamming for each other. Over a very short span of time they created a brand new form of music, with a brand new music theory all its own.

The “they” in Monk’s quotation refers to the white band leaders who had co-opted Jazz and made it palatable to white audiences. The Bebop pioneers created a style of music that only virtuoso players could master, leaving their former bosses in an ever-more-obvious state of irrelevance and obsolescence. Bebop was four-, five- and six-player Jazz for very cool cats, and the Big Band leaders were instantly dinosaurs.

Sound familiar?

If you gotta pay for leads to keep the kids fed, do it. But every spare minute of your day should be devoted to Bebop real estate, working toward the day when you don’t have to pay some broker or boss or lead vendor for the thrill of making money for them. Not everybody who wants a bite out of your pay-check is a bad guy, but if you’re taking shit from morons — if there is someone telling you how you must work and then taking 20% or 35% or 50% of your earnings — I think you’re going about this wrong.

You’re going to listen to your own music at work, that’s understood. But make your own music at work. And master your craft so well that you can craft a music they can’t play…

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  • 36 comments

    36 Comments so far

    1. Barry Cunningham February 28th, 2008 11:43 am

      Thelonius Monk!!!!!! What’s next..going to bring Jeff Beck into the mix? Took me way back on this one. Was already groovin’ before I got to the real estate part.

      You know sometimes you read a post and you stop midway through it because you realize the writer is on another plane. And you have to get to that plane…and I went there. Cool!

      The real estate stuff was right on as well.

    2. Mike Farmer February 28th, 2008 11:48 am

      Enjoyed. Yes, I quit paying for leads about a year ago when I still had some Google adword going on. I’ve been talking with Louis from Homegain lately about this. I can’t myself ever going back to a dependency on paying for leads becasue it would probably make me lazy and I wouldn’t continue the path I’m on.

      However, I wouldn’t be averse to receiving referrals from anyone as long as it’s not tied into a system I have to be a part of. Someone will develop a better plan to create a true, organized, productive referral system that’s based on clients ready, willing and able, until then I’ll rely on my music. Thanks.

    3. Mike Farmer February 28th, 2008 11:53 am

      Clarification: A system I can be independent of, yet be a partner with.

    4. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 11:55 am

      > Was already groovin’ before I got to the real estate part.

      Bless you, sir. Thank you.

      Inlookers, Barry Cunningham in half the on-air team for Real Estate Radio USA. The Bebop goes silent from 2-4 pm, MST, when the real estate industry news comes on.

    5. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 11:57 am

      > Clarification: A system I can be independent of, yet be a partner with.

      To networking without chains!

    6. Michael Wurzer February 28th, 2008 1:55 pm

      “We wanted a music that they couldn’t play.”

      I hadn’t heard that quote before or the reason behind it but I love it, a lot.

    7. Jeff Brown February 28th, 2008 2:41 pm

      Greg — >but if you’re taking shit from morons — if there is someone telling you how you must work and then taking 20% or 35% or 50% of your earnings — I think you’re going about this wrong.

      Many if not most of those doing it wrong are the ones currently being flushed from the system.

      We’re about to have a whole new batch of singers in the choir. :)

    8. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 8:37 pm

      Greg

      Lots of fun with this analogy.

      Bebob never sold tens of millions of records and remains the preserve of the cognoscenti.

      The brain races on basic punk (ppc?) which could lead to greater productivity soley on the back of massive near mindless activity.

      A “Bebob conversion”, however probably leads to the greatest personal satisfaction and achievement. For example, with improvised genius, a post about Thel Monk leads to a sponsorship of the Bloodhound conference.

      Pride and moderate success in one’s artful and enjoyable work may exceed the satisfaction gained by the mediocre and formulaic pursuit and achievement of riches….

    9. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 8:51 pm

      Got it. You’re campaigning all over the place for no reason whatsoever. What could be clearer?

      Did you happen to catch Chris Anderson in Wired this week, Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business? It’s not really news to us. I’ve been talking about it for more than a year. I’m guessing a lot of folks in swanky offices are wishing Maalox were free this week.

      Are you among them? Don’t answer. Hold your head up, sell your product while you can — and get busy finding a new way to make a living. The days when you can shear sheep and then sell them to cows in exchange for their milk will be over sooner than you can imagine. But you’re a smart guy. You already know that.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    10. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 8:56 pm

      Reminds me of the days when Netscape, Sun and others were going to put Microsoft out of business…
      There was a consensus on what the future held.
      But the center held and but the worst were full of passionate intensity…..

    11. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 9:08 pm

      See, turning and turning to Yeats is a smart thing to do around here, but you forgot the end of that poem:

      And what rough beast,
      his hour come round at last,
      slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?

      That’s from memory, with emphasis added.

      You got game, Louis. Good on ya.

    12. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 9:11 pm

      Is the adage really innovate or die or co-op or die?

    13. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 9:13 pm

      Greg
      Would you be advising me to be raging against the dying of the light! :-)

    14. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 9:13 pm

      I mangled it a little. Here’s the full poem, a remarkable achievement.

       
      The Second Coming

      by William Butler Yeats

      Turning and turning in the widening gyre
      The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
      Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
      The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.
      Surely some revelation is at hand;
      Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
      The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
      When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
      Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
      A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
      A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
      Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
      Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
      The darkness drops again; but now I know
      That twenty centuries of stony sleep
      Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
      And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
      Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    15. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 9:15 pm

      > Would you be advising me to be raging against the dying of the light!

      In the near term, marketing is figuring out how to upsell from free.

      In the long run…? No bet.

    16. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 9:17 pm

      From Dylan Thomas
      a near equal remarkable achieivement

      Do not go gentle into that good night,
      Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
      Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
      Because their words had forked no lightning they
      Do not go gentle into that good night.

      Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
      Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
      And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
      Do not go gentle into that good night.

      Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
      Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      And you, my father, there on the sad height,
      Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
      Do not go gentle into that good night.
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    17. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 9:18 pm

      Tennyson and Yeats back to back! We thrive by breaking all the rules. I love this place…

    18. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 9:20 pm

      Since you like Greek references is Zillow your trojan horse?

    19. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 9:21 pm

      And Dylan Thomas, too! Stop me before I break out the Shakespeare.

      You’re a sport, Louis Cammarosano. I owe you a beer.

    20. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 9:22 pm

      Good night I have some sheep shearing to do in the morning…

    21. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 9:27 pm

      Homegain as Shylock?
      If you prick us, do we not bleed?
      if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
      us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
      revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
      resemble you in that.

    22. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 9:28 pm

      > Since you like Greek references is Zillow your trojan horse?

      We’re on the same side, perhaps not forever and always, but very securely for now.

      Data is the new Intel Inside, says Tim O’Reilly. Zillow’s credit-sharing is very generous, an excellent way for hard-working agents to do geographic farming. There’s quite a bit more to our way of going at things than that, but these are the kinds of ideas that make sense in a marketplace without chokepoints.

    23. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 9:32 pm

      > Homegain as Shylock?

      Bravo! A virtuoso performance. My hat is off to you.

    24. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 9:40 pm

      Just a thought Greg:

      A Company, even though it shares a kindred philosphy, is a potential formidable competitor, whereas a company with an antithetial business philosphy may present a more symbiotic and less competitive opportunity…..

      What you see is what you get
      You’ve made your bed, you better lie in it
      You choose your leaders and place your trust
      As their lies wash you down and their promises rust
      You’ll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns
      And the public wants what the public gets
      But I don’t get what this society wants
      I’m going underground, (going underground)

      Identify that quote and I owe YOU a beer!

    25. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 9:45 pm

      You weren’t kidding about punk. We’ve got two beers out of the way. We can flip a coin for the third round.

    26. Jeff Brown February 28th, 2008 9:47 pm

      Guys — If you both stop now, I’ll buy you both beers. :)

    27. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 9:48 pm

      Greg-If you do ANYTHING for 18 hours a day you will be successful….
      Heads I win, tails you lose

    28. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 9:52 pm

      “We’re about to have a whole new batch of singers in the choir.”

      Jeff
      Here is one for you:
      “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”o

    29. Greg Swann February 28th, 2008 9:55 pm

      > Guys — If you both stop now, I’ll buy you both beers.

      You win, Jeff. I’ve been putting out fires all day, and I’m ready to stop. No Corona, I don’t think, but I’ve got Old Bushmills and Crystal Ice. I think I’ll give Bill Buckley a better send-off, one he could surely appreciate.

    30. Jeff Brown February 28th, 2008 9:57 pm

      The Who — now back away from the keyboard. :)

    31. Louis Cammarosano February 28th, 2008 10:00 pm

      I’m a believer in belgians

      But here is one final one on the dawn of RE.net

      Bliss it was to be alive but to be young, heaven…

    32. Brian Brady February 28th, 2008 10:19 pm

      Louis survived the Jesuits, twice…surprised?

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