A while back (last November to be exact) I posted a piece about my view on the current state of music.
It got a healthy response. You can scroll to the 4rth post down to read it if you wish.
Well, the topic doesn’t really ever stray too far from my noggin, and it appears that it has come into the thoughts of other folks too. Most notably in the podcasts I listen to.
A couple of months ago, whilst trucking around Perth, I was listening to the BBC’s Danny Baker podcast. During an interview the state of modern music was discussed and naturally my ears pricked up.
Danny came up with an insightful observation that has stuck with me. He countered the perceived, and broadly accepted idea that our world is spinning harder and faster than it ever has done with the claim that culturally, it is in fact doing the exact opposite. Culturally, and especially musically it is slowing down. He proved it with this simple analysis:
Think of 50’s music. Got it? Good
Think of 60’s music. Ok?
Now the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. And then……. it peters out. There is little distinction between music made from ten or fifteen years ago to today. It’s all much of a muchness.
Or maybe not.
Maybe that music is still too close to us and our hindsight isn’t 20/20 yet. Or maybe the hits of the last ten to fifteen years have all been classics. Classics endure. Hmmm. (Or maybe I’m just playing the devils advocate).
So a while later I’m listening to The Good Life Project and again the topic comes up. Will we ever have musical icons again? The list from the past is long. They started with the late Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash but I don’t have enough time, and neither do you, for me to list them.
We’ve lost a clutch of icons already this year. And the older the baby boomers get the less we will have. Sorry to get all gloomy on you. It’s just weird to think of a world without the them. Imagine there being not one Beatle left. No more guys from Led Zepplin or The Rolling Stones.
The world will seem a bit less shiny.
Then, just the other day I listened to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke being interviewed by Alec Baldwin of all people. Thom said that he knew “the game was up” when, around ten years ago, Nokia approached the band for content for their phones.
The fact a global company approached a global band for a marketing deal was not the issue. That’s happened since day dot.
The point Thom was concerned with was the key word content.
You don’t want music, or singing or anything like that, he thought.
All you want is content.
That’s a huge shift in perception.
Music is no longer seen as a stand alone entity. It’s used to fill the cracks in a massive wall of cultural noise. It’s around us so much and in every part of our lives that there is no distinction any more. It’s just more content.
It’s got so big and so blurry that it’s incredibly difficult to overhaul. To burst its bubble will take a colossal effort. And what will become of the individual(s) who rip open the blanket of content? (Someone will come along sooner or later. Nothing more sure of that. I have faith.)
That person will become an icon.
A musical legend.