This is as much my fault as it is anyone’s.
Sometimes I feel like I’m asleep in this world, watching an endless pouring of crap from a machine that seems to never run out of asinine vomit made from the ridiculous dreams of people who think they know their arses from their elbows and the people who stand to profit from these poor little money pits of disposable income.
So, why are everybody’s elbows in the toilet?
I want to wake up, I really do. And sometimes I do, but not often enough…or for long enough…
My long-held gripes about “contemporary” musicians not learning musicology, not doing their scales, not mastering their craft, and just turning up with three chords and a song about being “in love” with someone they’ve not even had the chance to get to know, I think are justified.
But these young punks aren’t doing most of the damage (although blameless they are not) and heck, I like them, they’re a fun bunch of guys.
Let’s face it – if you don’t know basic knife skills, you’re not allowed to be a chef. If you don’t know how to use Word and Excel, you’re not going to get a job in admin. If you can’t talk to a member of the public without stabbing them in the neck with a biro, then you’re not allowed to work in retail (unless you’re selling haute couture).
This kind of logic doesn’t seem to count with music. It appears that if you go on the television and whore yourself in front of enough people in a popularity contest where your merits as a musician make no difference if you’re not marketable, then you can be a success!
THIS IS WHY OLD MUSIC IS DYING! THIS IS WHY LIVE MUSIC IS DYING! THIS IS WHY THE THINGS THAT MADE YOUR “MUSIC” POSSIBLE ARE BECOMING EXTINCT! THIS IS THE DEATH OF MUSIC.
Ok I’ll stop shouting.
When all this becomes extinct, the balance becomes unstable and music in its purest form of scales and melody and harmony becomes something that can’t evolve because it doesn’t understand its own existence and thus can’t progress anywhere further than its pre-set parameters. Television talent shows are just a symptom of the disease, as is electronic music, with which incidentally, I don’t have a major problem.
And let me guess…no let me…
“It’s 2014, catch up old man, don’t you know what dance music is? Playing instruments is the way of the past! You can’t dance to it! Stop being weird! It’s not cool to be weird! Do you mind if I punch you in the face as hard as I can because my girlfriend doesn’t like your music? If you did the drugs we do you’d understand!”
I did…trust me…I’m not proud of it…but I did…and I understood…and I danced…and I’m not proud of it…I heard the four beat and I lost myself in an electronic rhythm which is part of what is ruining what I love…off my guts on whatever amphetamine or psychedelic I could find…I was and am definitely part of the problem.
The main issue is marketing and money. If you are not banal enough to be marketable then you will be pushed aside. What kills me is that it’s the fact that its how cool a band is that overrides how good their music is. What also kills me is that ALL guys (myself included) who buy a guitar (not even learn how to play it, just buy it) do so to meet girls. And it abso-fucking-lutely kills me that if you can’t dance to the music like a horrible slut so that you can meet a jerk who’s got a pocket full of rohypnol and a donkey punch for you, then it’s not worth listening (nothing against sluts though…they’re only sluts because everybody loves them).
The comfort I get from this is that the rubbish that makes the money will not be remembered. It will not inspire future generations because the people that do bother to learn their craft know how much of a joke this stuff is.
So, I was at a music festival in Melbourne recently. Lots of older bands, lots of older fans, people who had been making and listening to this music for a long, long time, and let me tell you, it was both encouraging and depressing. The younger folk were definitely in the minority, which further builds my fears of losing this attitude of going to see music for music rather than to try and have sex with under-age girls. On the other hand, it also reminds me that there are people to carry the baton and that those who haven’t given up yet, won’t.
But, that festival is anomalous and another story entirely.
Who’s right and who’s wrong?
Is the idiot child in the guise of a prostitute dancing to music that has no cultural relevance to her to blame for the fact that all the sparkles and peer pressure invented by marketing managers have detracted from her appreciation of beauty and added to her appreciation of sleaze and debauched behaviour? Or does she just want to dance to something that has a nice beat and seems fun?
It IS fun to dress up.
Is the musical elite to blame for not including everyday folk in their special appreciation of Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Bach or Tchaikovsky and dismissing everything that doesn’t fall into that realm?
And in the same breath, are the sub-cultures created by popular music to blame for excluding a kid that likes the “wrong” kind of music (don’t get me started on hipsters)?
Is it Bono’s fault for showing us that as soon as you get rich all the substance dies in your work? It probably is Bono’s fault but he’s too easy a scapegoat.
Is it my fault for not working harder at making the music I make? For taking the easy way out by going “fuck it! It sounds good enough in Em!” too many times? For spending more time in my early 20s doing drugs and dancing to techno instead of honing my craft and writing the songs I should have been writing, rehearsing with the bands with which I should’ve been rehearsing and playing the shows I should’ve been playing? For letting the idiots have their fun?
Is it the idiots’ fault for having their fun?
It does seem that exclusion-ism is to blame to an extent, but we’ve seen what happens when everybody just tries to get along (GO COMMUNISM!!!). But still, we’re just doing what comes naturally to us. Our species have turned up at every crossroad in our history and have done very little else other than to destroy the beauty that surrounds us. It’s in our nature. As if we were hard-wired to praise the stupid, allow the evil to flourish and destroy the things that allow us to survive.
And I’m just talking about music. Music is something that has had an inexplicable effect on us as a species. Beauty in our species is a rare thing – it is not the mainstream – and when it does come forward someone is always there to try to destroy it if they can’t make some form of personal gain from it.
And every time someone dies or gets told a beautiful story everyone howls and “changes their lives” until they get the wrong coffee order or the steak is medium-rare instead of rare or the house is a mess or they can’t find the right t-shirt to wear…until some ridiculous problem turns up and distracts us from the fact that this existence is a matter of life or death.
So, what do we do?
Can we do anything?
Will everything just reach a critical mass and destroy itself so that we are forced to start from zero again?
(This is my secret hope…my love of organ meat means I have an advantage in apocalyptic scenarios…)
Let me postulate further and I’ll get back to you…