Ok, I am wrapping up my first full month of blogging about music that I think is worth listening to. I have written about people that I have seen in concert and music that I listen to on a daily basis. I write about artists. The question that I often ponder when making my musical choices is this: What is the line that divides music between art and entertainment? Is the latest boy/girl band that sings over recorded beats art or entertainment? Personally, I consider it neither and closer to the eighth ring of hell. No offense to those kids who were new on the block, the boys of the backstreet, or the menagerie of boys that danced in sync because at 18-20, I would have probably sold my soul for the money and chicks as well.
As you look at the various music award shows (Grammy’s, MTV, VMA, CMA, etc…) it is clear that the entertainment value is high and artistic merit, not so much. With the dance ensembles, the pyrotechnics, and wardrobe malfunctions, it is clear that the late, great Kurt Cobain was right when he unknowingly wrote the anthem of the 90’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and I quote “With the lights out, it’s less dangerous, here we are, now entertain us, I feel stupid and contagious, here we are, now entertain us”.
Have we, as a society, placed less value on the art of music? Are we more concerned with our own need for entertainment that we willfully let the radio and record sales dictate what is good and acceptable in music? It appears that the frantic pace of life has kept us from noticing the utter and complete garbage that pervades the airwaves and stocks the shelves of big box retailers who can change your oil while you shop for your groceries, clothes, and electronics.
As a general rule, I do not listen to the radio other than 1310 The Ticket (any P1’s reading my blog?) On the rare occasion, when, I am trapped in my car without my IPod or a smattering of CD’s, and the Ticket has a commercial break, I will peruse the radio for some music. This always reaffirms my initial position of not listening to the radio and makes me long for the radio waves of Austin, Texas. One of the many great things about the lovely city of Austin but yet I digress. The noise that passes for music on the radio is an abomination to auditory senses. It is either a sugary confection of beats and over produced voices or it is violently vibrating bass with grammatically incorrect boasts of carnal conquests. Whatever happened to three chords and the truth?
We have grown accustomed to the immediacy of the world. We impatiently wait in lines in our car to eat, we stare at our phone waiting to connect to the World Wide Web, and we hover around the microwave savoring the chemically engineered buttery smell of popcorn. So, it is not surprising that the aspiring entertainers of the world want their fifteen minutes now and are not willing to work at their craft and learn how to write music, play an instrument, and in some cases, even learn to sing.
Artistry is not dead, it is out there but it is not immediate. It is not radio friendly, vapidly redundant three minute jingles. It is on the road, in the bars and coffee shops across the country. It is toiling in the years of past, present and future one note at a time.
Great music awaits!