SAME AS IT EVER WAS…ALMOST…
Music today has no conscience. I’m not talking about the big record labels, or about the “Music Biz.” The big labels and the music biz in general never had a conscience.
Sure, some of the people in the biz may have had a conscience – they may have felt real bad about taking advantage of some poor artist – but they did it just the same. It is, after all, a BUSINESS, and business hasn’t had a conscience for a long, long time.
But what I’m talking about is MUSIC, man! The MUSIC, and the MUSICIANS! I’m talking about a Social Conscience! The attitude of the generation was embodied in the music itself – the sense of we’ve had it, we don’t want to grow up in the world our parents built, We’re Not Gonna Take IT!
I’m going to really date myself, here, but what the heck. Back in the day (wistful sigh…), music reflected the conscience of a generation – of my generation, at least. To say it was a different time is an understatement. But in those days, the music, and the musicians making the music, spoke for us. We were being sent to fight a war we neither wanted nor understood. The “have-nots” greatly outnumbered the “haves.” Racial inequality, prejudice, and violence against minorities were raging. Reading that last sentence I realize that words alone cannot possibly convey the horror associated with that time period.
But we had spokespersons – and they sang about the things that were too horrible to believe. Still it was more than that. In the 60’s and even 70’s, the music itself was the sign of the changes coming. The Music heralded the revolution. The attitude of the generation was embodied in the music itself – the sense of we’ve had it, we don’t want to grow up in the world our parents built, We’re Not Gonna Take IT!
The message was sung quite articulately by some, and blasted in your face by others – but the message was there, and, for a while at least, it was heard. And we all felt united by the music, by the voices that were crying out what we felt and feared.
I’ve heard it argued that the times have changed – there’s no need for Music to provide that social conscience anymore. Well, let’s think about it: young men and women are still being sent to fight wars they neither want nor understand. The “have-nots” greatly outnumber the “haves” – more than ever – and today the “haves” lobby openly to push the “have-nots” down even further. Racial inequality, prejudice, violence against minorities ARE still raging. And what are musicians raging about? – Spotify payments.
Just listen to the top songs on the radio…it’s all pop. Not that there’s anything wrong with pop. Back in the day, even the pop songs had edges of social conscience. Sure, there are always the festivals and benefits that occasionally call out the rallying cry of raising money for this or that cause, such as Farm-Aid. But the musicians on those stages are singing their hits – which very rarely have an element of social conscience to them. Throwing money at a problem is not a solution – the problems need a VOICE! But today, Music has no conscience.