We seem to be living in a time, if you are of a certain age, where the musical pillars upon which stood our culture have now crumbled. For those of us who are 50-ish, it would seem we are in the great in between. We have witnessed the icons of earlier times pass from consciousness either by death or lack of meaning. I’m talking The Beatles, The Stones, Elvis, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and on.
Some of those stalwarts kept it up. David Bowie never stopped setting new landmarks in music. Neither did Prince. And so those ever present are now dust.
The icons of today seem less than inspiring. Is it my age? I do not know. Taylor Swift owns the world. I even like a few songs. For me there’s little inspiration. Pop rarely grabs you by the jugular. Kanye, while talented has also become a caricature of himself, a reality star. Is anyone REALLY inspired by his creativity or do they just admire him stretching boundaries?
So who will inspire the next generations? What musicians will stand the test of time? Do you see anyone who truly fits that bill? Or is that something that is no longer possible in a world awash in availability? When you can find music anywhere and everywhere, does it stifle the ability to stand above? Or are we in a time where it is simply impossible to be the giant, be the force, grab the world by the throat and yell “LOOK AT THIS”?
For me, it’s been a long time since a song skewered me and left me in a heap on the floor. I’m starting to feel like no one is angry at the world in the same way we were in the past. Too busy? Too many distractions? Too much choice and too little focus? There is so much to be truly and completely angry about.
There’s part of me that feels like the world today will make it very difficult for anyone to be a true music icon the way some of those names mentioned above did. There are bands that are popular. People we call stars. Some we call superstars. Can you name anyone today who qualifies as an icon?
U2’s in the past. So is Pearl Jam. Eminem is pretty much done. All have ruled. All have inspired. None has stepped over the line. Rock music seems all but nonexistent. Alternative seems to have fractured into a million subsets. Rap and hip-hop have gotten boring. The anger is gone. Are we so bored? So distracted? So inundated?
I would like to think someone will rise. I have to think that because music is such an integral part of me. There’s a soundtrack to the moments of my life. There are songwriters who have taken the moment and shone a light on it. Before you start saying “There are so many great songs!”, I know. I have lots of music I love in my playlist. What I don’t have is an artist that blows my mind in a way that changes my DNA. Not just with a song but with a story.
Despite vinyl’s resurgence, is it that we live in a single song culture that is taking away the book of life? That we don’t have albums we listen to but songs that we hear? That we don’t explore the entirety of the artist’s voice is leaving us bereft of timeless inspiration? That we don’t delve and play and replay and find the nuance, the deep tracks that show a bigger picture and a deeper meaning? IS that the problem?
I don’t have an answer. “Brothers. Sisters. Give me. Give me deliverance. Deliver me.”