Dreams Have Never Been The Answer
|1820 E Thomas St|
Seattle, WA 98112
"Today's music is terrible", it seems, is the 90's kids' version of "Get off my lawn!".
We are aging, and we can't stand the fact that we are unable to name most of the songs or artists we hear on the radio. But hey, it's okay! Don't sweat it, gramps. It's just the way it goes -- change is the only constant in life. Drum and Bass is now called Dubstep and it sounds like robots being tortured. Good old Rock and Roll has virtually gone extinct, but unimaginable combinations of genres have filled the vacuum, and basically All The Noise Is In One Place. But do you remember when Jungle was king and Drum and Bass was the new thing? Or when RATM mixed Rap and Metal? Or when Portishead invented Trip-Hop?! Oh, it all comes full circle...only now it spins fast, and you simply can't keep up in the age of The Instant Everything.
It makes you grumpy, but let's face it: You either train your ear to the new sounds, or end up listening to the same old records until you stop really hearing them.
The problem with contemporary music isn't that it's bad; it's the total opposite. Today's music is too good. It's easy to miss the point because you are looking for something very specific in music, namely a thrill, that feeling you used to get when you were fifteen and you heard a loud punk band for the first time. You are looking for music that will shake you to the core, and that's not going to happen. Not necessarily because all modern bands don't make such music, but because you are in your late thirties and music just don't affect you that way anymore...
Metallica had such a powerful guitar sound it blew your poor freakin' mind. Nirvana screamed on tape. Who presently screams on tape?! Nobody. Sure, music used to be raw. Lyrics were derived from first-hand personal experiences. Melodies used to inspire strong emotion because they were itself inspired by emotions. Music had this analogue, unpolished sound that was technically bad but also real. You miss that, don't you?
You know that part of Chris Cornell’s "Seasons", at the very end, where the guitar strums just before the final refrain? You can hear someone, most probably Cornell himself, taking a sip. It’s a tiny slurp right there, quiet but perfectly audible, that tells me everything I need to know about the song – it has been done on a single go, with all the musicians in the studio room playing together and recoding at real time while drinking coffee and smoking, and there are Persian rugs on the floor, and outside is raining because it's 1992 in Seattle, where music and art were the only outlets for the anxiety all young people feel when they first try to make it in the hostile wide world.
Today's music isn't bad. It's perfect. It is mass-produced with software logarithms and machines of precise digital sounds that leave no room for mistakes. There's no noise. No voices in the background, no rhythm out of beat, no note missed. It's carefully crafted and formulated using focus groups. But not for the purposes of changing your life and blowing your little mind. It's for the gym. For the car ride on your way to pick up the kids. It's for the office party. For the Super Bowl halftime. It's to sell Soundcloud and Spotify subscriptions.
The entertainment industry has gotten savvier, you've grown older, and technology has taken over. You might not like it, but that's life for you -- the times they are a-changin' and kids don't have much to scream about, or smash guitars on stage, or reasons to spit fire... or maybe they have found different ways to express themselves. Different ages, different ideals, gramps! You had the flannel and the Converse sneakers, and kids today have the panting dog filter.
It's not bad...
It's definitely not great, core shattering, cathartic, but it's not bad either.
|Johnny and Mommy|
|Jeff Ament, Chris Cornell, Matt Dillon, Cameron Crowe, Layne Staley|
on the set of "Singles", 1992
|Gas Works Park|