A unique cross between Dylan and American Pie’s McLean, Jules Shear is the unheralded mortar that exemplifies the heart of the music industry

Chances are you remember Cyndi Lauper’s hit “All Through the Night” which reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984, or the Bangles’ somewhat wistful 1986 rendition of  “If She Knew What She Wants.”

Now you might ask what does Cyndi Lauper and The Bangles have in common besides becoming female icons of the music world in the 1980s? That’s an easy answer, or it should be . . . Jules Shear.

While Shear’s stage presence success was limited to the minor 1985 hit Steady, it is his songwriting capabilities that is what I would have to call the unheralded mortar that is at the heart of the music industry.

Putting aside for the moment that I had never heard of Jules Shear before taking a relaxing stroll down the memory lane of my twenties (the majority of which was spent in the 80s decade) this past week, I now know what today’s teenagers feel like when they “discover” the Beatles for the first time.

Here is an individual who has recorded close to 20 albums and was the host for the first 13 episodes of the MTV Series Unplugged, the latter of which has received critical acclaim as well as 3 Primetime Emmy nominations along with winning the George Foster Peabody Award for broadcasting excellence.  In short, Shear has woven himself into the country’s musical fabric in a manner that is reminiscent of the Vinnie Vacari character from the 1980 movie The Idolmaker in that his greatest success has come through his behind the scenes work.

Like the closing scene of the movie when Vacari (played convincingly by Ray Sharkey – who won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy), who in taking the stage to sing for the first time himself, demonstrates a pure passion for the music instead of the wealth and fame of stardom, Shear’s hauntingly aching turn with If She Knew What She Wants reflects a similar solitude of purpose.  It is clear that first and foremost, Shear is in it for the music.

Like the foundation of a house that supports that which is forever visible to the public eye, Shear’s contribution to the industry is worth noting because it selflessly extends beyond personal recognition and makes an unspoken contribution that enriches the industry as whole.


2 Responses to “A unique cross between Dylan and American Pie’s McLean, Jules Shear is the unheralded mortar that exemplifies the heart of the music industry”
  1. Jules Shear deserves far more widespread recognition than he has ever attained. His albums HEALING BONES, THE GREAT PUZZLE, and BETWEEN US are astonishing records.

  2. I would tend to agree Marc . . . although I would have to say that his unplugged rendition of If She Knew was powerful and authentic, while he looked unnatural in his video for Steady. This is a real artist and musician where nothing in his work is contrived.

    In the steady video he just did not look natural. Yo know what I mean?

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