Disclaimer: The following comments are extremely opinionated and scattered. I’m still very much thinking about and sorting through them. I don’t mean to be arrogant, though it may sound so. This is just how I’ve been feeling of late.
It’s time for something new in music. I’m tired of albums. I’m sick of bands. The world is ready for a new conduit of sound.
I love music. I love sound. But sound is due something new.
I’m not sure what…but I’m looking.
I realized about two years ago that I don’t care about albums anymore. I still care about music. But there hasn’t been an album that has either blown me away or that I’ve waited for with baited breath in a long time. Ballads had their time, cantatas had their day, symphonies held the spotlight, operas blew people away, and radio stations were the name of the game. They still all exist, but none are the primary conduit of music anymore. Their time came, and their time passed. And now its time for the album to retire as the foremost mode of musical communication; and for that matter, rock bands, pop idols, indie rockers, country singers, and hip hop artists too. They only exist like they do because the album exists like it does.
Skeptics reading these thoughts might immediately point to concept albums and rock symphonies or to itunes, Pandora, Spotify, and the other myriad online bringers of music into our lives. But to me it’s still the same thing…bands writing 2:47 second formulaic songs that are still saying the same things.
I’m not saying I have a better idea. I’m listening. I’m looking. And I am excited about what will come next, because (hopefully) it will be music.
One problem is that successful music makers are bigger than the music they make in the album age. The Beetles are actually bigger than the music they made. The Rolling Stones are DEFFINATELY bigger than their music. That’s a shame. Almost every successful pop artist is much bigger than any music they ever make…Beiber, etc.
There is a Jay Z Budweiser commercial that came out this summer. In the add Jay Z talks about how the lines between cultures and genres don’t matter anymore and how everyone is helping everyone else. Maybe this is part of the problem. Culture is beautiful. Different is good. As soon as a new artist comes around and releases their art into the world it’s up for grabs, its for sale, its moldable. The music machine calls it collaboration. Everyone is collaborating with everyone else. When everyone collaborates with everyone else all you get is a monstrous mess of monotonous music.
Who is writing music that is still untouched? Obviously there is nothing original in music. Everything is built on what came before it and it has to be that way. I understand that new music is built on old music. I’m not saying otherwise. I am saying that there are too many people touching and messing with too many other people’s musical creations.
So, back to my question. Who is writing music that is built on the influences of the past, but un-messed with by contemporary trends and voices?
Here’s a thought that really disturbs me, but I believe there is at least an ounce of truth in it. The best music writers always make music that reflects life. Real life. How they see it, experience it, feel it, taste it, etc. As soon as music literally becomes a writer’s life they have, in a sense, lost their ability to write about real life. They are no longer living life first and writing about it. They are living music first and trying to write about living. That’s messed up, and at least partially impossible.
I worked construction this last year and listened to the radio everyday with the guys on my crew. It doesn’t matter what genre you are listening to; almost every contemporary successful artist is writing songs about how they are still “normal” even though they’ve made it.
I don’t give a (well, you know what I mean) about that kind of song. That kind of music is empty and reflective of our current predicament.
One time I went to a John Mayer concert because Ben Folds opened for him. It was an out door summer concert. When Ben Folds came onto the stage I stood up. I was asked to sit down…multiple times. Then John Mayer came out, everyone stood up. Wow.
I think that hope for music lies in (and probably always will) live performances. I still believe that concerts are alive. There is most likely a better way to do them though.
What if awesome new artists started writing and touring and didn’t do any recording. This probably isn’t the answer, but it would be cool if some artists were ballsy enough to try it.
Here’s some artists I love. The Punch Brothers, The Avett Brothers, Mumford and Sons, Bon Ivor, M Ward, Muse, Sigur Ros, and My Morning Jacket; to name a few. They are great musicians and fantastic writers. I want to experience them in a new way.
Dear music makers,
If any of you guys and galls are reading this I want you to know that you can stop making albums and do something new. I’ll support you.
Encouragement from a fan,
Mr. Waiting Still Listening