‘I’m going to go out on a limb’: Steve Cropper on how technology is ruining modern music

Over a decades-long Hall of Fame career, Steve Cropper has seen trends come and go. Still, he finds that a certain period of music tends to resonate above all else. Ask him to recommend an era, and he doesn’t point to the Stax Records that he had such a huge hand in creating, but instead to the power and grace of music from a decade or so before.

“I couldn’t nail it down to one thing,” Cropper tells Caroline Jones. “But if they want to, historically, find the energy — then go for the greats. Listen to Ray Charles, James Brown, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin. Then go back and grab some Bo Diddley, and some Chuck Berry. The group I grew up on was the 5 Royales.”

Cropper has a theory, by the way, on why modern music lacks a certain something: Technology. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say this: I think the music of the late ’50s, and early ’60s had an undefinable energy that you could notice and feel,” he adds. “I’m missing that a lot today. I’m not missing it because of the people that create it. I’m missing it because of what they create it on — and that’s a computer. It just takes the energy out of it. It takes the real performance out of it.”

That said, Cropper isn’t close to hanging it up. Later this year, in fact, he’s set for another European tour with the Animals. How does he stay engaged? “My biggest attribute,” he says, “would be: keep it fun. Because once you start making work out of it, it’s like anything else — it becomes very boring.”

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