On Second Thought, Maybe I Don't Want to Be a Rock Star.

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I've stood and watched guys and girls play (mostly guys, mostly guitar), and wondered what it would be like to make an instrument talk... to connect with a crowd... to say something with lyrics.

But lately, I'm not so sure. Maybe I wouldn't want to be a musician. Maybe just being an obsessed music fan is enough.

Because the way it looks from the fan side of things, it sure is tough to be a rock star these days.

See also:
- Record Store Geek: How Much Money is Music Really Worth to You?
- Record Store Geek: Finding New Music is Easy; Listening to New Music Takes Work.

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Who Do They Sound Like?

First and foremost, as a creative person myself, I think about the creative aspect of things. And from where I sit, it seems like it's almost impossible to break new ground anymore. After roughly a hundred years of recorded music, and over 60 years of rock and roll, it is to be expected.

It's the first thing that people ask you in a record store when they are curious about a new group: Who do they sound like? After all, they gotta sound like somebody.

Now it's not like any one group sounds exactly like the other, but if you really study music, you can always think of one or two groups. Usually artists that were in the game early on, making up the rules.

My point: You can't cross lyrical boundaries any more than Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. You can't get weird and push the limits of yourself and your band more than Frank Zappa. You can't extend the limits of on-stage jamming very far past the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers.

It's not that artists can't do anything new, and I'll spend the rest of my life listening to them try, but it's tough to be the grandfather when you're part of the fourth generation.

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2 comments
Fiddlejo
Fiddlejo

Music is dead. Long live music. Not quite ready to write music's obituary. I try not to rely on history too much (if you know your history you may be bound to repeat it), but in this case arts have always found a way to come around with a new twist just when we think they are exhausted. As for music I don't know what it will be and exactly how money will be made doing it but I am fairly certain it will happen. 

DesertRat70
DesertRat70

Good article. I've been waiting for this type of article and more of them, because musicians today have to deal with the crumbs that have fallen off the rock-n-roll cake that was eaten decades ago. No matter the style someone is into, it's been done and done very well by pioneers whether in blues, country, punk, hip hop, etc. There's so many great songs that have been written that express the range of human emotions, that today almost any song will have a large shadow looming over it that reduces impact.

 Another aspect of rock is that it its ethos no longer applies to society or youth. In the 1950s-1960s, it meant a rebellion against conformity, celebrating lust and sex, and championing freedom of expression via electrified instruments. Today sex is killing the planet with obvious overpopulation, so even though young folks still get horny, there is no longer a blissful sense that it's an innocent and joyful pursuit in itself. No longer are gas-sucking cars celebrated either in rock, as kids these days want public transport. And the joy of cranking up an electric guitar fails to resonate because it's been done to death. Who will make something more interesting than Hendrix, or other pioneers who stretched the limits of the instrument in its heyday?

 Yet there is a place for new music, as no one is content to stand still. And no doubt there is some great music being made today. But with society being so frazzled with new technology, and the evidence of human self-destruction becoming more evident (climate, pollution, etc), and the awareness that sex has given us more people than resources can provide for, the music that will have an impact will express the fears, anger, and fate of our hyper-self-aware consumption culture.

Doesn't sound like we need more rock songs, in other words. But music is a simple thing and it retains the ability to emotionally transport listeners in a live setting with skilled musicians. It's a worthy endeavor. Just not capable of changing the world around it any longer.

 



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