More Than A Feeling
I have lately noticed a disturbing trend in our public spaces. By this I mean, that common ground made up of shops, sidewalks, bars etc that is the landscape of our day. The soundtrack is always maddening, uncontrollable, nerve wracking. But now, oh now it’s gotten worse. This bedlam of noise has begun to form into a modulated hum, intoning a single, vile word.
The soundtrack suddenly seems to be 10, 20 years out of whack with the visuals. Everyone is walking around all fresh, but the music that follows them is this shrill, awful dreck.
Journey. Styx. Boston.
People! Wake up and listen to your elders! BOSTON SUCKS!
They sucked when I was in high school. Journey? Steve Perry — so histrionic vocally he made Yma Sumac seem like a hummer — Journey?
People, people. You are basing a large aspect of your life around stolen memories of a time in which you weren’t even born. People my age listen to that swill on oldies stations because it reminds us of when we got laid, or drunk, or smoked something really awesome and listened to 2112 under a blacklight. As minor and childish as these might seem to you, they at least are ours. We did them. We earned them. And while we might look back in fondness at the times and its events, we don’t kid ourselves into thinking that these songs or those bands had any particular merit. No, the music of that time that does hold up, that did deserve more attention both then and now- the original punk scene, the American “new wave” movement, et al, wasn’t the majority soundtrack anymore then than it is now. But “Stranglehold” always sounded righteous after about 19 beers. Or at least, I think that was the song.
But when I go into a local coffee shop and hear the entire first Boston album play in its entirety, or be in a Tower Records when Journey’s Greatest Hits comes on- and every knit capped, AF wearing slackass worth their salt is whistling — WHISTLING, MIND YOU — to freakin’ “Oh Sherrie”, something is seriously wrong. We are immersed in the greatest outpouring of artistic voice that our planet has ever known. Technology has made poets, painters or (Jimmy) Page’s of us all. It’s all dissimulated around the globe in an instant. A person in the Bronx hears an mp3 of someone in India, and creates a new beat that a singer in Tokyo picks up on, creating a universal, seamless tapestry of sound, alive and vibrant.
And you want to listen to Styx?
I can understand that our woeful media devotes massive amounts of time and energy into capturing as much of your attention as it can, as quickly as it can, so it rams home the lowest common denominator (Britney or Bush, take your pick), but damn folks, there is good stuff out there. Examine music from beyond your zip code. Read a book by a foreigner (Arundhati Roy is a good start). Learn, grow, share.
But if you find it impossible to wean yourself from classic rock, to pull yourself out of the musical primordial stew like the rest of the other humans on the planet, do us a favor. Get some freakin’ earbuds, please. Because the next time I hear “I Need A New Drug” some yellow wristband goof is going down. Consider yourself warned. Ours was not the generation of Peace and Love. We missed all that. We got Pong. And Alf. And musical canker sores like Billy Squier or The Romantics. We feel cheated, and don’t care to be reminded of it all the damn time. Thanks.