|2023: Music Sucks|
2022 was a better year at GuitarAttack World Headquarters. Our track record for making it through tough days is perfect so far. That doesn't mean it was fun; it means we made it through. However, music continues a weird death spiral, and, as always, we feel obliged to comment on it.
I got the lineup for Bonnaroo 2023. I didn’t recognize anybody on the post until Day 4 when Foo Fighters and Umphrey’s McGee play. Yes sir, Sunday at Bonnaroo. That is the Live Nation Industrial Complex working to make your life more interesting.
Maybe this is the same old song; Old Guy upset because none of his bands are playing. Maybe so, but I think it goes deeper than that because I believe what is going on in music is a reflection of our society in general; specifically, it is all related to class. I believe it is the jump from working-class music to upper-class music, or focusing on the sector of society that has disposable income and will buy about anything if their Instagram BFF says to.
Wild claim? For our Petri dish, let’s talk Nashville. First, let me let you in on a secret. Poor people are not moving to Nashville. It is becoming a haven for people fleeing LA, Seattle, Denver, et al and trying desperately to turn it into the place they fled without the taxes. Developers are tearing down old, historic buildings and putting up new, horrible ones for all of these refugees to live in. If you happen to be poor, Antioch, Murfreesboro, or up north towards Clarksville might be a better fit, but the drive is crushing. As we used to say, “It takes an hour to get to Nashville from Nashville”. You see articles about “light rail” and “public transportation” in the “alternative press” in Nashville. They are always written from the perspective of some bro from Seattle who would probably never use it anyway. By the way - the alternative press in Nashville is hardly recognizable compared to even ten years ago.
Why is there no meaningful rock scene in Nashville? Could it be that rock and traditional country are part of a working-class ethic, and, as we push working class people out of Nashville, maybe nobody wants to listen to it? The great bands of the 60s and 70s tended to come from a decidedly working-class background in both the US and UK. As we grind down the middle-class, there goes not only the musicians, but the audience for those musicians. I think the Bonnaroo lineup is a reflection of this –just a bunch of posers who want to reflect the working class but not be part of it..
There are a lot of music critics in Nashville. I generally don’t like music critics because they continue to let us down. Just listen to the crap on XM The Highway or even Channel 2. The critics won’t criticize anybody because they want access. When there is a criticism, it is a pile-on so everybody can feel virtuous and smart in their support group. Being upset is performance art and they don't really live it. Consequently, I don’t care what any music critic says. Every band I ever liked was hated by the “I’m so f*cking smart” critics and their magazines which have morphed into the crap content clickbait websites we are subjected to today. Case in point: Madonna and Donna Summer are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but Grand Funk Railroad and Bad Company are not. Explain that.
Finally, looking at Nashville, is there a real protest? What does it take to get the young folks fired up? Looks like falling in line to me. Any protest bands at Roo? Anybody taking on the The Man for the mess we left in Afghanistan for the women/girls over there? Anybody brave enough to take on the FBI? Remember the Church Commission? Any protest songs out there? Anything approaching “Ohio” by CSN&Y? Bands like “Rage Against the Machine” have become The Machine. The most counterculture thing you can do at school now is wear a shirt with an American flag and tell everybody you think the United States is an awesome place.
Climate emergency protesters? Wait till you see the trash footprint at Bonnaroo. How much carbon was released by people driving to the show? When these folks who tell me it’s an emergency start acting like its an emergency, I’m in. Here's some protest for you: Step One: Ban all private airplanes. Step Two: Ban air conditioning. Step Three: The only way to travel to Europe or Asia from the US (and vice versa) is on a sailing ship (no generators or auxiliary engines). And finally, Step Four: Penalty for breaking these rules is life in a Prison/Reeducation Camp. OK – that is the first month. I am working on the second because the first will never happen and, like everything else, nobody is really serious about it.
And if you think all of this stuff is weak, just wait until artificial intelligence (AI) takes over the creative part of everything we hear on XM and Spotify. We watched the story on the CBS News show “Sunday Morning” about artists lamenting that AI is taking over the traditional crap art space. One artist stated that AI may make earning a living as an artist impossible. Hey – welcome to the world of musicians. Sadly, art and music have defined cultures since we started keeping records, and our culture is so upside down that it is just not producing anything that prolific or long-lasting.
We need a protest/punk movement, and we need it now. We've lost the rebellious spirit. It may be the only thing that saves music. Maybe that’s why the Sex Pistols aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It might make the lifestyle cool again and make the young ones want to jam to piss off their parent(s).
Have a great 2023 and keep checking back!