Becoming the Beatles
It's a wonder that bands aren't analyzed the way food is: recipe consisting of specific ingredients, a certain way of handling and working with them, and then maybe a little bit of that touch or magic that gives something an extra few percent of greatness.
Seems to me if you love The Beatles and wanna sound like 'em, you have to add a healthy dose of country music, bluegrass, classical, swing, jazz, folk, Indian music, and so forth. I guess many artists say "I just love The Beatles, don't wanna sound like 'em, so liking Buck Owens or Ravi Shankar isn't necessary.", but it seems like the larger lesson is that combining a wide variety of styles and influences is a recipe to being interesting. The reverse would be that having only a few influences and styles is a recipe for blandness.
I wonder what becomes of a Beyonce or Britney Spears who suddenly starts digging Gustav Mahler. What's Lil' John come up with if he's heavily influenced by Benny Goodman or Jimmie Rodgers? Along the rap and soul lines, I think wiping out sampling might have been worse for the music. At least when it was prevalent you had DJs digging through troves of old vinyl, looking for neat sounds and discovering new things. Now you just get whatever they can muster up on the Korg Trinity.
It's sadly ironic, that with all the digital ease and variety out there, that music seems to be narrowing and getting stagnant. Wasn't too long ago that you'd turn on a rock station and go from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Pearl Jam and not bat an eye. Maybe there's still equally good stuff out there, it's just harder to find. Still ironic, given our digital world. I wonder if the amount of talent in a given civilization is constant, but the ingredients and "kitchen" of the whole thing mean the difference between getting a quality dish vs. a Big Mac.
Pointless, but fun to ponder.