Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Musical allegiances

Recently I mentioned to Trish that I thought that the world was split into 2 types of people; Beatles lovers and Elvis lovers.  Of course you can be a Beatles lover and still like Elvis and vice versa but in the end your allegiance lay with one or the other.  Trish looked at me like I was mad and then said 'or neither'.  WHAT ??? It had never occurred to me that you wouldn't either be a Beatles lover or an Elvis lover what else was there.  I started talking about how I thought that people were generally raised listening to the Beatles, Dylan, Marley etc or listening to Elvis, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison etc and she commented that she was raised listening to Ravi Shankar.

It got me thinking, are our music loves influenced by the music we are raised listening to?

I was raised listening to the Beatles, Dylan, Marley, Jethro Tull and other folk, blues or rock bands.  This is still the type of music I enjoy mostly, although I like a bit of everything.  Trish was raised listening to Ravi Shankar and Barbara Streisand and other global, folk type music and this is still the main type of music she enjoys.

Andrew and I were talking about how the music that hits the top 40 these days is unlikely to last the way someone like Cat Stevens music has lasted.

So then I started thinking about the music kids are listening to these days, Brittany Spears, the Spice Girls, Robbie Williams (ok maybe I'm a bit out of the loop these are all a bit old, but you get my idea). What happened to kids to make this they type of music they love?  I wonder if this is what has happened because parents aren't playing their own music to their kids as much instead kids are listening to the Wiggles, Hi5, in other words, simple pop type music.

I guess there are many influences to the sort of music we all listen to, but I will certainly be thinking more about the music I introduce my kids to and watching with interest the sort of music they choose as adults to listen to, will my kids be Beatles, Elvis, Ravi Shankar or god forbid Brittany people, where will their allegiance lay?


Shereen said...

Definitely a Beatles fan here. You are right, music has become 'McMusic', cheap, shallow and non-satiating. It is not about talent anymore, either, so I think htat is another reason it won't have the staying power that the oldies had.

Catriona said...

This isn't my field, but the debate about authenticity is the music industry (which is partly behind the idea of heavily produced bands/singers, but has been pushed further in the wake of American Idol et al) is a complicated one.

But it's not a new one. Plenty of musicians as far back as the 1960s (and earlier, but it was really in the 1960s that "music" became an "industry" on a massive scale) were as heavily produced and as artificial as modern music.

Most of them didn't have any staying power, either. The ones who did are the exceptional ones.

But another factor I think it's interesting to consider is the power of nostalgia.

Much of the music in the 1980s was awful. Really awful. (Much of it was excellent.) Some of those awful songs are still heavily replayed and thought of fondly--but that's about the memories that they activate as much as the music itself.

I imagine the current generation will respond to their music in the same way in the future.

Catriona said...

Damn. That should, of course, read "the debate about authenticity IN the music industry."

The debate about whether authenticity IS the music industry would be a whole different idea.

Wondering Willow said...

I love the term McMusic lol.

I disagree a bit with you Treen, sure the 60 70 and 80 had god awful music but it wasnt like Brittany who has topped the charts for over a decade and has never written a song for herself.

I think that there has always been crap music but it wasnt hailed the way it is these days, they were more likely to be one hit wonders or one album wonder.

Saying that its different if music fashion changed, take Bruce Springstein, I dont think that his music has lasted the test of time (except for the whole nostalgia angle) but in itself for the time it was good music, well written lyrics and melody structure.

Catriona said...

Well, partly what I'm arguing is that the idea of "authenticity" in the music industry is particularly subject to debate at the moment, when it's actually not the new a concept.

Sure, neither you nor Shereen actually used the term "authentic," so I'm arguing generally rather than specifically. But it's a topic that fascinates me, though it's not my field.

But not all lasting artists are also songwriters--some are merely performers. Look at Elvis, for example: he didn't write his own songs, but was a superlatively good interpreter.

Or, on the other side, Phil Spector: he couldn't perform his songs but (his recent decent into total insanity and appalling hairstyles aside), he certainly had success in writing them, and across a vast number of genres, as well.

There's also a vast economic shift: from the 1950s, music producers were tapping into the newly minted teenage market, but teenagers then (and, in fact, people in general) just didn't have the disposable cash that they have now. More cash = expansion of the market, so that even appalling musicians can find an audience and make money.

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the overall argument, by the way. I don't own a single Britney Spears album, and never will.

Just offering another perspective.

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