Rather than obsess about whether or not music today is as good as it was in the past or squint at the horizon looking for the next big thing, let’s step back and take a look at what we’ve accomplished.
In the post-World War II era, humanity has taken the raw material created by history and the history made by countless pre-war artists and fashioned new musical languages and new musical dialects of existing musical languages. Rock. Rhythm and Blues. Salsa. Be-bop. Hip-hop. Heavy metal. House. Free jazz. Soul. Latin jazz. Bluegrass. Funk. Country. Country rock. EDM. Folk rock. Rockabilly. Gospel. And on and on til the break of dawn.
We created a youth culture where none existed.
We created a concert industry where none existed.
We made music the conscience of the world.
We fought our way onto the airwaves and, when we lost battles in that war, we came up with other ways to get heard. We, or at least our tax dollars, created the Internet, the possible uses of which continue we continue to explore.
We have begun the sometimes awkward process of shedding our national skin and connecting with music from the rest of the world, both traditional and brand new. Where once listening or live audiences could be defined as one color or another, we have begun to create another palette where the colors run together.
Countless people played a role in this. Recording and touring artists. Promo men. DJs. Publicists. Roadies. Concert promoters. Session musicians. Tour bus drivers. Managers. Producers. Engineers. Label and studio owners. And, of course, fans. Fans who follow their favorite band from town to town, fans who are shut in by disability or imprisonment. Fans whose passion and thirst for connection gives the lie to the cynicism which is force-fed us every day.
Every step of the way everything that needed to be done has been done by men and women, boys and girls. Several generations. Every color and nationality. All this despite severe external oppression and serious internal contradictions.
When we do step back and look at what we’ve accomplished, we see we are not some bunch of helpless losers at the mercy of the one per cent. We can feel confident we can change the world because we’ve already done it.