music musings and another #ideavomit

Music is all of the things.

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It is the soundtrack and vessel of our other senses tying together moments that we cannot describe without referencing the sounds of our time(s). Sensory memory is so tightly tied to sound that we (or I at least) often recall so many things based on the sounds of our environments. When you make music on any scale – playing around campfires, dining room tables, in bars or bedrooms, through cafes, and/or in recording studios – you become very sensitive to how and where music is processed. Who is listening and how it can be taken into or out of context becomes a habitual part of your life. Again, no matter how much/little you play music it becomes a signal and symbol of who you are and what you believe.

This is what is so disconcerting right now. There is no victory song. Few musicians have stepped out in support of what has been voted into the White House. In fact, many have jumped out to prevent his ascension, complaing that their music is being used without permission. For those whom have voiced their support, they are mostly CORPORATE DERIVATIVE S**T. Yes s**t. They sing in cliches and gender-normativity. Most of their work reinforces patriarchal power and whiteness. What could/should it mean when the artists of our age protest and shy away from our next leader?

If we look at all great art, it is usually a response to great conflict and strife. Despite our (I will align myself begrudgingly with artists for the moment) naval gazing efforts, our work is informed {often primarily and wonderfully} by politics. Or the after affects of political decisions. Or, many other times, reflections of past political events. Or, in the even way MORE AWESOME WAYS, we invoke political change with our songs.

What is entirely sad and challenging throughout this entire campaign has been the lack of arts and humanities in the political narrative. How often were creatives, musicians, and/or artists used when invoking what the world needs now? My current work is trawling talks to find plugs for these types throughout the campaign, and I am mostly coming up empty. And that is horrid.

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Definitely the most thoughtful and effective piece on what has happened comes from A Tribe Called Quest. Their latest “We Got It frrom Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” touches on direct political commentary and critique while also being playful in broad cultural strokes. As a MAWG (Middle Aged White Guy), it is a joy to engage with the ideas on the album and is insightful in many ways. Many of the conversations I lurk on are drivers here and patriarchal power must end. Right?

And to continue my #ideavomit – 3 chords and the truth right? For me, I didn’t really get political music until the first time I heard Fight the Power. As a failing teenager several times in high school, Public Enemy shattered/enlivened my soul. Truro Nova Scotia, where I was living at the time, was/is very white and depressing. One wants to escape and engage a different world. Looking back, my desire to travel/study/live/work in other places started around the same time as when I first heard that song.

But lets step back. To where music is all the things. For those of you who know me, you know I’ve lived all over this planet for extended periods. From the distance over the past 20-ish years, each campaign has had a certain musical feel. If we look at the prez-elect-travesty (PET), we hear nothing. Fair enough, he’s a 70 year old privileged white male so what do you expect? His rhetoric is horrifying in this regard however – have you heard him even mention the arts or music or literature? What percentage of that is of his discourse? Aside, of course, from his recent twitter rant on Hamilton (see below), which is problematic and puzzling.

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There will be no surprises here. If you want to participate in our actions, we need to openly engage and share. Challenges will surmount, but we will create people! We will create sounds that our next leader will be inspired by! Looking back, we will have curated for the next generation(s) pieces that we see as important to further open democracy.

If we are moving into the range of fake news, can we also move into the realm of fake music? Manufactured boy/girl bands? Bon Jovi esque derivative cliches? Hair rock bands with their cliched otherness? Country music with its tropes of god/truck/girl/dog structures? Pop music with its happiness/depression disguised as glee? We need to try harder. We need to make music that uses back against societal repressive norms. We’ve had enough love songs about boy meets girl. We must write songs about boy and girl and all others fight the obvious oppression that comes with Tweets like these:

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If we can supposedly “regulate” news media, why do we not do the same with music? Sure self expression is important, but should we not be more choosey about what music/sentiments emerge at different points? How/why do we filter content in interviews with people, but not in songs? And, oh sure, I get how tricky/s**tty this can be, but we need some type of tool(s) don’t we? Most top 40 music continues to perpetuate gender/racial/cultural/relationship stereotypes and this sucks. If we are to try and understand the complexities of our world, we need to recognize the complexities of our many selves. Lets follow more examples like 69 Love Songs and make things that provide optics from as many perspectives as possible. Lets write stories that address the challenges we face as global communities. In short, FFS – LETS DO BETTER!

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