Previous visitors here will know, I often find a modicum of my life inspiration from music, amongst other things. You see to my mind, good music is (and should always be) about so much more than just computer generated head-banging mixes of trance inducing hypnotic repetition…
I’ve often thought, especially when observing the (younger) ardent followers of particular music genre; on many occasions, you are often replicas of the music you listen to. Think ‘angry’ punks, ‘chilled’ reggae lovers and the all loved-up hippies of the flower-power generation. With many of those musical drivers, there has also been a considerable amount of chemical influence involved over the years.
Looking at the prominent musical interests and fads of the youth of today; I’m concerned how so much of it seems to revolve around excessive repetitive noise, constant profanity, the promotion of criminal activity and inherent anger. Why so this aggressive behaviour? Simple escapism and an element of immaturity perhaps.
Today’s prominent youth music (often) does little more than promote the use and abuse of drugs and/or alcohol but even more worryingly; it also often contains suggestions that women are the playthings of men, there to be used and abused for personal gratification. If you add the almost total disrespect for any form of authority, a disregard for any human life (all be it virtual) mostly derived from a constant diet of computer generated reality, and you have a recipe for cooking up of even more social problems for the future.
Some may say they don’t actually listen to the lyrics of much of this so-called music however; whether they do or don’t, often that subliminal message is still all to prevalent.
All that said, it is also possible to be ‘high’ on ‘real’ life and to enjoy (or live) the music, without looking at it through a virtual screen and also, without the introduction of any chemical (or herbal) products to bolster the overall experience. A mellow mood doesn’t actually have to include a spliff, tablet or injection!
Much of the anger and materialistic aspirations of today’s youth have come about because; generations of the human race have lusted after riches, wealth and physical possessions. It’s what individuals in our society expect. When they don’t get what they want, they get angry. Our society has ‘conditioned’ people to ‘expect’ all that they desire. But trust me, it’s not the possessions and wealth of life that make you truly happy.
I can’t lose what I never had, you can’t take what I ain’t got, when I’m happy, you won’t make me sad, depending on you all, well I’m not… Cause I started out with nothing and I’ve still got most of it left…(Seasick Steve)
During a BBC show the now well-known Seasick Steve, a veritable ‘rags-to-riches’ America blues musician said; “Hobos are people who move around looking for work, tramps are people who move around but don’t look for work, and bums are people who don’t move and don’t work. I’ve been all three.” But life is about living it, and enjoying the experience, until the wheels fall off.
I might not have experienced some of those low points of life experienced by Seasick Steve, I might not have been on the bones of my arse so to speak, but I can actually appreciate the ethos he prescribes. I have witnessed a lot of the life issues he sings about. I have seen the desperation, pain and poverty that he puts into his music. As someone once said; “you can’t sing the blues unless you’ve experienced them.”
The wheels nearly fell off my life machine in 1987, I was involved in a road accident where I had a near-death experience and my best friend wasn’t as lucky as me. It was an experience that (thankfully), made me look at life with a whole new set of values. Ones that although the basics were already there, actually made me look at life from a whole different point of view. You see enjoyment of life is not about the material things, it’s about those aspects you can’t really place a monetary value upon.
Every now and then pieces of music, or the artists who perform them, come along to endorse the viewpoint that steve and I appear to share. The above clip of Aliki Chrysochou, performing in a recent round of Britain’s Got talent, is a fine example of what I’m talking about (see here).
The personal and emotional background to Aliki’s performance illustrates my point. It’s the type of music that is performed with feeling and/or some background experience of life’s realities. The kind of life events which can’t be truly and emotionally reiterated, without some personal experience of them. These are the types of life story (set to music) that our youth should be listening to, and trying to understand.
The triumphs over adversity, the broken hearts that mend, the joys to be found in life and the love to given and receive from others. Perhaps all this repetitive anger and/or despair in a great deal of our modern music is actually creating a subliminal state within the minds of our youth?
Unlike Seasick steve, I might not have started out with absolutely nothing but I can appreciate the fact I still have most of it left. And importantly as I get older, Steve’s song ‘Down on the farm’ (from the album Hubcap Music), I’ve found that even ‘dad dancing’ (as in the above clip) can look cool… With that in mind, I’m gonna carry on living and loving life our way – right untill the wheels fall off that is!
- Seasick Steve: I’ll keep playing till the wheels fall off (independent.co.uk)
- Album review: Seasick Steve, Hubcap Music (Fiction) (independent.co.uk)