Musically declined

I still don’t understand the relationship between humanity and music. If you think about it abstractly, why is it that these harmonized rhythms and rhymes resonate with us so profoundly? A lot of my friends are music aficionado’s, and it makes my relative lack of musical insight all too apparent. For many years I’ve considered Way-k my own personal DJ, but there have been others who’ve enlightened me with regard to inspiring music as well. At any rate, when you hear a good song, you *know* it’s a good song. Is it the lyrics? Is it the melody? What determines a good song?

I often wonder how top 40 music gets to be in the top 40. Is it always some pencil pushing executive at clear channel determining the next hit, or are some songs popular because they resonate both musically and spiritually with a lot of people? It’s easy to become jaded in this informed age, what with the pull that massive music conglomerates have over “what’s hot and what’s not”. Is anything really popular anymore on it’s own, or is the music that we listen to on the radio just manufactured fashion? I could easily be convinced that it’s the latter if not for the fact that in the last 50 years or so, music has been such an influential force in representing and guiding the psyche of the masses. In the 60s and 70s, the music was about rebellion, about rejection of the norm and the new values that these decades produced. In the 80s it was about consumerism (along with an offshoot of desperate rejection) and the 90s produced apathy and antipathy. What do the naughties hold for us? So far, not what I would call a revolution… However there are signs, *real* signs that the youth culture that we worship may be waking up to reject the values of our North American consumer values.
Specifically, I’m thinking of two songs. It’s easy to pick and choose songs that follow a specific mindset you wish to examine because of the incredibly wide spectrum that we have to work with, so by no means am I trying to pass this off as some kind of scientific examination of popular music. No, this is just my perception of popular music and what I enjoy listening to. It’s not particularly hard to figure out why. If you’re interested in listening, I suggest you hop on your handy p2p software and download NOFXThe Decline and Sum 41We’re all to blame. I’m not really sure where these two bands lie in the popularity pecking order, but I believe that they both focus on counter-culture lyrics along a hard rock and roll beat. I particularly like them because they focus on the present state of affairs with regard to North American culture. For example, in the NOFX song:
And so we go
on with our lives
we know the truth
but prefer lies
lies are simple
simple as bliss
why go against tradition
when we can
admit defeat
live in decline
be the victim
of our own design
This song is 18 minutes of musical bliss, with the whole thing being a frank discussion of how fucked up our culture is, and how it’s basically going down a self-medicated decline. I whole heartedly encourage you to download it and see what you think.
With the Sum 41 song, we have another broad examination of the consumer culture which we blind ourselves with. It’s about how we refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of our greed, or to sacrifice for our needs. In particular, this part is telling:
And now
we’re all to blame
we’ve gone to far
from pride to shame
we’re hopelessly blissful and blind
when all we need
is something true
to believe
don’t we all
we will fall
’cause we’re all to blame
For me, the entire essence of these two songs is encapsulated in the line “when all we need / is something true / to believe”, because that’s where our society breaks down. There are a lot of disenchanted people out there who have rejected the teachings of whatever religion, or are at least questioning the preachings presented as fact. For us, we have nothing to hold on to as an absolute anymore. Everything is an unknown. So many questions and so little answers. Even science fails us because what is truth now may not be truth later. Science gives us the freedom to question truth, so there are no absolutes; religion offers us an absolute truth which we cannot question. This society of ours, this culture that we’ve all grown up in is stuck between a rock and a hard place. All we need is the freedom to question as well as have something true to believe in, but they are diametrically opposed concepts. It seems that we can’t have our cake and eat it too, and so we go / on with our lives / admit defeat / live in decline.

2 thoughts on “Musically declined”

  1. Chef!! this blog reminded me of the song i was supposed to produce for you! do you remember? Two Weeks Too Late. perhaps i will just e-mail you the instrumental song and you can let your mind dwell on the rhythms alone as you blog! good to know you’re still well!

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