The first ever blog..musings on music.
So here I am, tremulously taking my first steps into the world of blogging. Virtually every ‘helpful tips’ section on blogging I’ve read suggests choosing subjects close to your heart to start with, since you already know enough about them to hold some kind of coherent thought for a few sentances (some noticable exceptions to this rule exist though). So here it is, my first topic… why modern music is ultimately crap compared to older music……….(sucks air through teeth anticipation-stylee, and retreats for the verbal barricades to repel boarders..)
OK, right out of the blocks let me clear one thing up straight away – I am not suggesting that there is no good modern music, nor am I suggesting that age is an indicator of musical quality. However it’s not a theme I can really sum up in one snappy opening sentance, so stick with me on this one, alright?
Let me start by observing how music, and it’s availability, has changed wildly in the last couple of decades. Since 100 B.C. (Before Computers), man has been making music in its varied forms and styles primarily with one thing in mind – the entertainment and appreciation of fellow humans/wooly mammoths. In bygone days this meant that if you were a fan of a particular artist/group, you had to wait months or even years for a new release, travel to the nearest shop selling music, then purchase that release in whatever archaic format it was available in, be it vinyl, tape etc., all of which were prone to breakage/damage, then play it back in poor quality on machinery that was clunky and unreliable. These days music can be available for sale literally minutes after it is finished, available worldwide instantly, comes in downloadable format that’s delivered direct to your living room, and is in a digital format that never breaks, chips or damages. So basically the music industry has taken a giant leap forward in terms of commercial availability – and this can only be a good thing for us as consumers, right??
WRONG. SO VERY, VERY WRONG.
You see, my opinion (and since its my blog, the correct one) is that we’ve gone too far towards the next new, shiny development without considering what we’ve left behind in our wake. Let me explain. Ok, so you had to wait ages between releases – ever heard the phrase ‘anticipation sweetens the deal’? The release of a new album used to be a truly news-worthy event, setting playgrounds and bars alight with the discussion of how it was likely to sound, whether the sound would be similar or different – in short it was exciting!!! These days it’s lost amongst the other 374 releases in your e-mail inbox, temporary and insubstantial, if noticed at all. And yes, formats such as tapes and vinyl records were prone to scratching/recording over accidentally/being nicked by your ‘mates’, but when you download an album do you get to read the liner notes while you listen?? Does it come with stunning and original artwork, or contain the lyrics for all the songs? Does it tell you who was involved in the production, or carry messages from the band to their fans and loved ones?? I think not.
OK, OK, I can see the obvious rebuttal to this argument, namely that not all of you will care enough about all the frippery, and are quite content to just let the music do the talking. And believe me I respect that point of view – hell, at least 60% of my considerably-larger-than-most music collection is in digital format, and downloading has enabled me to own music I never would have possessed otherwise – rare albums, bootlegs, even tunes that are so old very few vinyl copies probably still exist. But like a homicidal fork-wielding diner, there’s more than one prong to my attack.
Its not just the loss of the creative package that came with music that concerns me, but the wider ranging implications about how we’ve changed our perception of music. Before the advent of the internet, music advertising was an extremely expensive and long-winded saga involving flyers, billboards, radio and television that took a long time to generate a world-wide media interest, the up-shot of this being that if you were going to invest that much time and effort in something, it had BETTER BE BLOODY GOOD!! Bands had no choice but to tour with their music in order to let more people hear it, and those live performances were for real people who could cheer, boo, hiss, cat-call and give the artists instant in-your-face criticism far more real than a slightly-upset e-mail or a slagging on Facebook. Any recording artist was constantly under pressure to perform at the top of their game and deliver the best product possible to the fans, because the only way to get properly rock star limo-in-the-pool type rich was to have a career that had LONGEVITY. It took time to make the money and the truly great, long lasting stars were those who continually turned out a strong catalogue of work – take examples like Elvis, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin to name a scant few and you know the type of peformers I mean.
Nowadays, however, we’re almost over-saturated with new music, with a new artist every ten seconds, albums released two or three every year instead of every decade, and advertising reaching you on your phone, in your house via internet, e-mail, radio and satellite television, even on public transport or six-story high electronic billboards. It’s human nature always to think that the grass is greener on the other side therefore no matter how we may try to deny it we are easily distracted by the new and interesting. So if that’s the case, how do we take enough time to truly appreciate an album, to examine its lyrics and really think about them, talk to friends about them, listen to them so often we appreciate all the subtle nuances they have and truly understand what the artist was conveying to us, before there’s a newer, better album we should be checking out????
The answer is that, sadly, we don’t. Increasingly often these days I meet young people whose list of favourite bands doesn’t contain anything older than a few years. Now again, to set the record straight (no pun intended….well maybe just a small feeble one) I know that age does not automatically mean its any good, or that its your type of thing. Hell, you may be into some bizarre Japanese electro-funk/Swedish death-metal crossover that didn’t even exist as a genre last year, in which case I wish you and your eardrums the greatest of best wishes. But it doesn’t change the fact that music is more often being thought of as just another quick-fix disposable commodity to be consumed, disposed of and then left behind as we seek out the next feed. And why, if you’ve bothered to read through all of that and not just scrolled down to the end to see if there’s a point to all of this ranting, does this one subject upset me so much I chose it for my first ever trial blog??
This is why. Of all the types of art that man has produced; painting, sculpture, poetry, story-telling…….NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING has moved the hearts of so many of us, brought joy, produced tears, laughter and melancholy the way Music has. It is our single most expressive, individual form of entertainment to date and it is a treasure to be guarded by mankind more protectively than a fat kid stood by the trifle at a buffet. To allow music to slowly fade in cultural significance would be a crime of epic Godzilla-like proportions we could never forgive ourselves for.As soon as you finish reading this blog, wherever you are in the world, go and find a copy of your local pop music chart and ask yourself ‘How many of these acts will still be around and producing music in 40 years time?’. I hope the answer doesn’t depress you too much. As more and more music becomes available each year the number of quality tunes that will last down the years with us diminishes. So perhaps now the Elvis analogy in the title makes more sense. The King Is Dead….Long Live The King!!
PS Dear Reader….a couple of points I should add for reference. One, Elvis is ok, but he’s not really my bag, (baby), its just that it seemed a mildly witty (ok, very mildly) way of hinting at the subject in the title. And Two, I appreciate that simply because it is such a powerful emotional motivator,music is a great divider of opinion as well. Therefore many of you three readers may disagree with things I’ve said here and want to argue your point or just post abuse. Go ahead. Yes, that’s right. Go ahead. I strongly believe that all discussion is a good thing – just one small point, my kids and possibly yours may want to read this, so keep the swearing out please, ta. Hit me up with replies if you want me to assassinate a topic for you, or just offer an opinion/cash donation to my artistry. Open the comments page by clicking the speech bubble top right on this page!
“Do unto others before they get the chance to do to you” ~ The Assassin.