the era of disposable music

1 Jul

image via Cube Gallery

When I was younger, I didn’t know the difference between The Beatles or The Beach Boys. I made an assumption that The Beach Boys were better than The Beatles. I was dead wrong, but of course the only boy bands I had on my mind were The Backstreet Boys and N’Sync. Those were the days of the ’90s. I still remember owning my first CD player and cassette tape. I’m not even that old, but now that iPods and MP3 players have taken over, listening to CDs and tape cassettes seem well beyond ancient. I remember walking down aisles in Target, Shopko and any store where I could browse through music. Nowadays, we have the internet where iTunes and any digital music is available at the click of a button. I miss having to physically find CDs for browsing and purchasing. Only when I’m in London and Paris, at Virgin Music or HMV do I relive those feelings in the ’90s, per se in a more modern context.

Back to the point I was trying to wrap around, is everything on the radio circa 2000 and beyond disposable music? Nobody in the future will remember the Top 40s of popular music today. Most notably, music from the ’60s through well into the ’90s will still be remembered and listened to. They are the classic, timeless tunes of mile marking decades. Right now, I’m discovering classic rock as one of my favourite genres of all time. When I recently discovered classic rock, I thought to myself, how did I miss this and live my entire life without these sounds? I’m also starting to listen to the oldies, music my parents listen to. I have found that I really do like Simon & Garfunkel.Β It wasn’t until later in my life and even presently today, where experiences I’ve had with International Children’s Choir, show choir, college courses in film and jazz and guitar lessons where I was exposed to a fine range and genres of music. Finally, I learned that The Beach Boys have nothing over The Beatles and hardly any artists today are original. Many covers have already been done and are now being performed. I had no idea that Jimi Hendrix composed Bold As Love. I always thought it was John Mayer. All the music legends are from the past and nobody can recreate a Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, The Beatles or Michael Jackson. The list goes on and on. Everything has already been done before.

But why is it that everything today will be long and forgotten, probably tomorrow? Has the digital age of music created this gap? Has the move between time eras changed this? Less outstanding musicians? Or is it the simplistically composed and produced sounds of today just mere entertainment and have no meaning for anyone except younger generations and for a short time period only? As a music enthusiast, I keep wondering. Why am I playing an instrument? Why do I attempt writing songs and go deeply into a songwriting process? If the music today has no meaning, why are we listening to this music? One can hardly argue that music brings joy to everyone. Whether it’s today’s music or any genre of music, praiseworthy of attention and restoration, music is our source of culture and life.

Maybe popular music isn’t as disposable as it sounds. I won’t deny that listening to Michelle Branch sparked my interest to pick up a guitar many years ago or the fact Vanessa Carlton inspired me to practice the piano more often. Daft Punk, Ladytron and Calvin Harris moved me towards the direction of disco and electronica. Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and Ingrid Michaelson’s tunes got my ukulele happy. What is disposable to the world might not be disposable to us as individuals. Let’s face it, in ten years, nobody will remember Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” or Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” (just a few random one hit wonders in pop music to name). But maybe a few people will remember these songs as a life changing moment or a marked passage in time. These songs will mean something to someone. For instance, I have a list of songs that remind me of summer 2009 and summers before then. Maybe today’s music will never be considered timeless, but at least today’s music will never be entirely disposable. Nothing is ever lost. Musicians and listeners alike can learn from, appreciate music from the present and past, as well as what might come in the future, which is why we continue playing the songs from our rhythmically beating, soul searching, harmonious hearts.


5 Responses to “the era of disposable music”

  1. thoughtsappear July 1, 2010 at 06:44 #

    I didn’t know the difference between The Beach Boys and The Beatles when I was younger, too.

    I totally agree with you on associating certain songs with certain times in life. There are also songs that I associate with specific movies because the scenes and songs were that powerful.

    • Sum July 2, 2010 at 01:48 #

      Thank you for reading my post and commenting! πŸ™‚

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know much about The Beatles or The Beach Boys as a younger kid. I most certainly agree with you as well. Movies and TV shows inspire me to like songs I would have never liked if it weren’t for the music and scenes together.

  2. nktrygg July 4, 2010 at 02:54 #

    I was born in the late 60’s and still own the vinyl records that I collected in the late 70’s onwards.

    A big part of why music now is disposable is because the market is so huge

    we won’t see any one genre or artist dominate like Elvis did in the 50’s and the Beatles in the 60’s

    there are artists now getting a 10 million selling recording that the majority of the market has never heard of

    even as late as the 1990’s, most music, movies and tv were still controlled by the larger studios and networks

    but now, anyone can record or film what they want in professional quality and post it on the internet for distribution

    that Micheal Jackson sold so many records following his death is not impressive in an age where it’s no effort to download a track, an album or even an entire discography

    it’s very impressive that when Elvis died in 77, that RCA had to turn all of it’s factories over to Elvis record pressings 24/7 – and rent other factories to press records – and that people got out of their houses, drove to stores and lined up for hours to buy whatever physical records were available or had to back order

    when you have to put effort into acquiring, make a tangible effort to buy (there was no debit transactions then either) and get a physical item that you couldn’t make at home

    music wasn’t disposable and you had to watch tv shows when they were on and movies in theatres

    there was no tv/movie home taping or owning or download and burn cd or download and load into an ipod

    • Sum July 4, 2010 at 13:20 #

      It’s always good to learn something new each day. Thank you for sharing your wonderful insights. I enjoy hearing from all generations on their thoughts and opinions. I especially appreciate hearing how life was back then. It gives me a sense of how things truly were.

      After reading your response, it all makes sense about the large and growing marketable industry. There are too many artists on the radio today who have no music abilities and yet, they sell millions just because of their Hollywood parents or their image alone.

      I had no idea about the records Elvis sold after his death so that was interesting to hear.

      Sometimes I wish life was still simple like it was back then. Watching movies in the theaters, listening to music or purchasing music in a public setting makes these activities more social, lively and fun.

      Thanks again for sharing your comments and opinions!

      • nktrygg July 6, 2010 at 23:55 #

        Even in the old days of studio control, bad musicans got record deals

        but I think there’s a lot of talent out there – and there’s a market for everything

        it’s not bad, it’s just different

        and it means that someone to dominate the charts like Elvis did – is going to take someone amazing.

        Elvis is the only artist in the rock, country and gospel halls of fame.

        He conquered TV, movies and dominated the radio and music charts with his music – that spanned nearly every genre that was done in the 50s to the 70’s

        rockabilly, rock n roll, ballads, crooner tunes, show tunes, acapella and big musical production numbers, country, gospel, funk, swamp rock, latin bossa nova, German and Mexican folk tunes, stadium rock, blues and even a couple of protest songs.

        He covered the Great American song book, the Canadian Songbook and there’s been a recent collection of his covers of the Great British Songbook

        his career of being a singer to actor remains the template for artists today and a bar that no one has exceeded.

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