Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy to Work on Maggie's Farm

If, as Paul Simon asserts, every generation throws a hero up the pop charts, what does that say about our generation?

For the first time in several years I watched the Grammy Awards from beginning to end, and the next morning bitched to S.B. about the alarming lack of passionate, middle-finger-to-the-establishment protest music emanating from today's youthful musicians.

Apparently, Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine pondered the exact same thing, concluding in this piece that for the first time in popular music history, our youth—and youthful musicians—are embracing the status quo, rather than rebelling against it.

I don't hear any outrage emanating from the airwaves, that's for sure. No "California Über Alles" for the 21st Century, no NWA, no Clash, no Guns 'n' Roses, no Rage Against the Machine. Hell, we don't even have a Bob Dylan. About ten years ago, Ministry put out a brilliantly raging, anti-George Bush diatribe masquerading as speed metal. But ever since Obama came into office, crickets have done nothing but chirp. Instead, all I hear are over-inflated Pot Tarts screeching different versions of the same old love-gone-wrong laments and belly button lint contemplating guitar slung crooners reveling in the kind of post-teen ennui that involves a lot of pot and mom and dad's basement. For rock music we have, what, Coldplay? Train?

Sure, there has always been pop music, the kind of no-brainer stuff that's simply meant to be catchy. I'm fine with that. I own a lot of ABBA and I think Kelly Clarkson is the bomb. But they are not rock and roll. Rock and roll, by its very nature, is supposed to flip off the establishment, not suck at its teat.

Am I wrong?

1. Yes, you are wrong. Obama has ushered in the Grand Age of Shiny Happy, and because everyone is going to be taken care of, there is no reason to be angry.

2. No, you're not. Obama has ushered in the Age of Dependence, and our youth, instead of seeing authority as something to rebel against, sees it as a means by which they get to pay the rent without getting off the sofa.

3. I have no idea. All I wanna do is dance.

26 comments:

LX said...

3. Sorry, I have no idea about contemporary music. My iPod is mostly stuck in the 60s.

moi said...

LX: Who started off pop and ended up revolutionary.

Buzz Kill said...

The Pudge and I had a similar discussion not too long ago. He's been playing guitar for a couple of years and recently started playing bass. The songs he's working on now - Pink Floyd, which he will play at his music recital in June. Last year's songs were Guns and Roses and the Ramones (I Wanna Be Sedated - I had a little tear in my eye).

He hates todays music and if you go to his Ipod, it's all 70s, 80s and 90s. We recently saw Smashing Pumpkins in concert (at his insistance) and we really enjoyed it (The Mrs. not so much).

The reason (IMHO) - American Idol. Musicians aren't paying their dues. No more living in cars, playing dives with chickenwire cages in front of the stage and drinking JD until you sound like Brian Johnson. You go right up there on TV for instant fame. And I think this goes along the lines of your entitlement theory in answer #2.

Also cell phones have turned kids into zombies. They have no reason to ever look up.

moi said...

Buzz: Pink Floyd, huh? That's pretty ambitious! Are you going to video it for Blog Posterity? You know, I'm not so sure AI is entirely to blame, but it is certainly a reflection of the Entitled Generation mindset. The proof is just how devastated some of those people are when they don't make it on—and how clueless they are that they have no talent.

Aunty Belle said...

#2

moi said...

Aunty: But of course!

Karl said...

Good evening Moi,

3a. The age of dependence was ushered in by LBJ. President Obama has simply perfected the message. The only thing to do is dance.

moi said...

Karl: Yes he certainly makes everything sound so cool cat. I love that song. Very 1984.

Aunty Belle said...

Wanna come by to leave two cents on Southern cuisine?

serendipitouswildmoments said...

Hi Moi,

You always have something thought provoking up.

Although Becca won, I am hosting in her place this week. Come play.

czar said...

I'm just happy to see a Moiist pop culture post.

moi said...

Serendipity: Okey dokey!

Czar: And one you can READ!

Milk River Madman said...

No you are not wrong and yes I am alive. So good to be back. Have a little time on my hands. More to come but this was great post. I especially liked the comment about the guitar players and will have to get my dictionary out for the rest.

moi said...

MRM!: You live!

fishy said...

You seriously need a vacation.
#2

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Yes, I was wondering what happened to all the political music only a few days ago. Maybe they've put something in the water. Western-world wide.

czar said...

Hey, if you watched the Grammys from beginning to end, you must have seen Chick Corea (my all-time favorite Scientologist) and Stanley Clarke do the Dave Brubeck tribute (which I have not seen). Yes, that would be the same Stanley Clarke as pictured at the bottom of my blob.

The thing is, the counterculture is now the culture. So whatcha gonna do?

czar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
moi said...

Fishy: You are very right about that. I can't remember the last time I took time off for more than four days.

Poet!: Nice to see ya. Of course, your countrymen were always aces at producing some of the best noise.

Czar: Yes, I did. And said to myself: "Self? You like Dave Brubeck, you sure do." (more proof that I might need a break.) No, I don't really think the counterculture is the culture. The counterculture was anti-establishment. Yer average American Joe and Jane lurves their gooberment!

czar said...

Funny. You listen to the overall discourse and you get the idea that yer average American Joe and Jane hates their gooberment!

And there's your problem. Not only have the right-wing idiots a la the 2011-12 primaries and the tea parties sucked all the area out of the political room, they've done the same by painting themselves as today's counterculturalists. Oh, the war on Christmas! Oh, our American way of life! Oh, we can't run the world like we want! We're so put upon! Pay attention to us! We're antiestablishment!

It's like Grace Slick said, more or less, to an audience from the state. "You want to make a revolution. Come get us. We're the ones charging you four bucks to get in here."

So, there you go. You want a drama queen raging against the dying of the light for this generation, I have one for you: Grover Norquist.
Put a ukelele in his hand.

[I'm just funnin' with ya, waiting for some faceless functionary of corporate America to keep me on the phone for 15 minutes, after filling out 17 pages of paperwork. For a $300 job. In April.]

czar said...

*from the stage.

Very interesting typo.

Aunty Belle said...

What's wrong wif'Grover?

There's a very handsome man on the front porch.

pam said...

I have a feeling a little youth revolution is brewing. Don't know why I think it ... but what about this. Obama Government isn't the Establishment to "them" ... the Establishment Government still relates to Bush (in some minds) ... so they see no need to rebel? I have to agree with you about what passes for rock music. If Mumford & Sons (who I dearly love) was nominated in a rock category, something is wrong with the world. Not sure how you should categorize them -- and maybe you shouldn't -- but they are much more folk/bluegrass than rock. I've been craving bands that play together and write their own songs for some time. Not lead singers who take off on their own. Music that is complicated and dependent on the notes played from the guy at the next microphone. And lyrics that have depth and meaning and feed my soul. I will dance to that.

Aunty Belle said...

Ditto PamOK, lyrics are woefully repetitive, ain't got much soul.

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