Sunday, August 19, 2007

Imagine All The People!

I just got done watching "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" on VH1, and something intriguing occurred to me. Where have all the talented musicians gone, let me rephrase that, where have the revolutionary musicians gone. I can't say talented musicians because we still have a few, from Alicia Keys(I love you, baby) to John Mayer, Kanye West, John Legend, Billie Joe Armstrong, etc.. These few artist may mirror the revolutionary artist of the past, but they are overshadowed by the basura that is played on radio and television. John Lennon made introspective and extrospective music that was relevant to the "Working Class Hero", he made people "Imagine", he asked the entire world to "Give Peace a Chance". Lennon voiced his opinion to the masses that felt just like him, which also angered the political system. Jimi Hendrix performed "Machine Gun" with his Band of Gypsys. Bob Marley wrote a song about "War", he told people to "Get Up, Stand Up", and then he made his "Redemption song". The Temptations ask "War, what is it good for?", Lennon and U2 both made "Sunday, Bloody Sunday". Its not just that these people all made anti-war songs, but they all put their hearts into their words. They didn't just make music, they made movements (and not the same way as Dip Set). Maybe most of the messages were stronger because of the devastating impact of the Vietnam War, or The Troubles in Northern Ireland, or the social injustices and civil rights battles worldwide. Maybe artist, as well as listeners, have become too anesthetized by this violent world, or maybe too complacent with making meaningless music. Music affected the world so deeply that a revolutionary statement on song warranted an FBI investigation. Questioning of the political machine in that time was seen as a threat because of how strong art was. But in these days, a statement like "George Bush doesn't care about Black people" only gets you YouTube hits and a skit on Saturday Night Live. Seriously, serious music is brushed off as "alternative", "underground", "conscious", "political", or "indie". The music became more important than the message, the back story became more important than the real story, the fruits from the labor became more important than the truth in the art, and this is when we lost our true musical movements. When the money is more important than the meaning, what part of the person does the music really move? Why are more people paying attention to 50 Cent's new dis song than to Live Earth (look who's talking)? How many people will actually participate in "World Peace One", this October? The movement inside the music is in shambles when MTV says "Rock The Vote" and then "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It", or when BET tries to put messages in between young black people participating in buffoonery (aka 106 & Park). At the time I am writing this, people are dying in Iraq, children are sitting in prison in Jena, LA, a genocide is happening in the Sudan, the United Nations is null and void, and the United States government is full of liars, but your favorite musician just made a song called "Love Like Honey". While I was writing that last sentence, I realized that the biggest difference between music then and now is the listeners. The listeners don't care about the objects in their blind spots, they only care about the things that directly affect them. So if your listeners ask for music that is not extrospective, as an artist, you're going to supply that demand.

So, I'll end this with some John Lennon lyrics from "Gimme Some Truth" :

I'm sick and tired of hearing things from
Uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded, hypocritics
all I want is the truth, just give me some truth

I've had enough of watching scenes from
schizophrenic, ego-centric, peranoic, primadonnas
all I want is the truth, just give me some truth

Peace, I mean WAR!

1 comment:

littlelazer said...

A couple of years ago this kid tried to argue to me that R. Kelly was like this generations Marvin Gaye. I stopped talking to him and walked away. But I think the fact that he would even dare to make that kind of comparison says even more about him and his expectations of artists than it does about the artist. People only want to be entertained nowadays, not enlightened. It's sad.