Sunday, September 30, 2018

If You Think The Song Is About You, Well, It Is.

In an interview, Sir Paul McCartney made the remark that, in the early days, they wrote ‘fan songs.’ Love letters to their fans, so to speak. 
A songwriter may be initially inspired to write a song by something that has gone on in his own life but he can easily turn that into a song with a broad appeal by spotting the elements of it that most people have also experienced.
Such songs speak to countless listeners who all share similar experiences of their own. The song “I’ve Got A Feeling,” by The Beatles epitomizes this kind of song;

“I've got a feeling, a feeling deep inside
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
I've got a feeling, a feeling I can't hide
Oh no, oh no, oh no.
Yeah, I've got a feeling.
Oh please believe me, I'd hate to miss the train
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
And if you leave me I won't be late again
Oh no, oh no, oh no.
Yeah, I've got a feeling, yeah.
All these years I've been wandering around,
Wondering how come nobody told me
All that I was looking for was somebody
Who looked like you.
I've got a feeling, that keeps me on my toes
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
I've got a feeling, I think that everybody knows
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah.
Yeah, yeah, I've got a feeling, yeah.
Ev'rybody had a hard year
Ev'rybody had a good time
Ev'rybody had a wet dream,
Ev'rybody saw the sunshine
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Ev'rybody had a good year,
Ev'rybody let their hair down,
Ev'rybody pulled their socks up,
Ev'rybody put their foot down.
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Yeah I've got a feeling
A feeling deep inside
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
I've got a feeling, a feeling I can't hide
Oh no
Oh no no no
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
I've got a feeling
I've got a feeling”
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul Mccartney

It goes much deeper than this. Songs can be about cultural change that a society is going through. Many musical artists have been called the spokesperson for their generation. “For What It Is Worth,” by Buffalo Springfield is this type of song;

“There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's s time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down”
Songwriters: Stephen Stills

This is true of instrumental music as well. Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, ‘The Pastoral’ has titles on the various parts, suggesting different scenes from nature, but among Beethoven’s notes on the music we find;

"The hearers should be allowed to discover the situations / Sinfonia caracteristica—or recollection of country life / All painting in instrumental music is lost if it is pushed too far / Sinfonia pastorella. 
Here is acknowledged the listener’s participation in the creation of musical art. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

If It Wasn't For New Music, We Would Still Be In The Dark Ages

Did you ever wonder what the world would be like if new music didn’t exist? One thing you have to understand is that new music has a long history. Let’s just go back to the Dark Ages, for example. This is not so long ago, but it will do for the sake of our discussion. In the Dark Ages everything was under the control of a family called ‘The Church.’ The top dogs in The Church were the Popes and there were some really bad ones, like the Borgias, for example. Back in this time, if you stepped out of line or were suspected of saying anything out of line, you were quickly tried and executed by being stoned or burned at the stake. Music was mainly done in the church and consisted of monotone chanting of Latin biblical texts. There was no melody and no rhythm except that it fit the syllables of the text. There were no musical instruments allowed. This was because the Church was afraid that music with melody and rhythm would just be too stimulating for the lambs in its care.

Over a very long period of time, certain people got the idea that things were pretty suppressive and decided that something needed to be done. They started printing books and teaching people to read and musicians pushed to get music with melody and rhythm that was played on real instruments. New music became a tool in educating people and lifting them out of the apathy that they had been reduced to.

The way that the ruling class always maintains its place of power is making people believe that they are somehow better; that they are gods or have been chosen by god or they are just smarter, better people who know how to run things. The message that new music has always brought, down through the ages is; “Power to the people. Power to the people, right on!”

Friday, September 28, 2018

New Music Now

There has always been new music; in the sixteen hundreds, composers like J.S. Bach wrote new music and, later, Beethoven wrote new music and still later, The Beatles gave us new music. Of course there were many, many others. But what about new music now? Some people think of new music in terms of their favorite groups releasing the next album, which is all well and good. Some people, however, are wondering where is the new music now? They ask when music will change and 'something different' will come along. These people know there hasn't been a lot of new music now. Why is this, they ask? Well, some of it has to do with the music business. As time goes on, people in the music business are less willing to take chances so they 'bet on a sure thing.' In other words, the survey what has sold a lot and push whatever that is. This creates quite a stutter effect until things actually slow down quite a lot. The record companies promote a group that they have put together and rely on hype alone to make people believe that this is the next new thing. Actually people know how this works and this is why the record companies are failing. The average person is a much better judge of good music that a record exec. So this is a good thing about having the internet. People can look about and find what they like instead of being offered a very restricted number of choices. This is one thing that is needed to help in salvaging our culture and art; people being able to make their own opinions about things without relying on so called 'authorities.' The 'authorities' are usually pushing something.
Dizzy O'Brian

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Your Own Opinion

Now, more than ever, it’s your own opinion that matters, in this day and age when ‘popular opinion’ is shaped by the media to reflect favorably on what is being promoted. People are swayed by this illusion, else why would it be done in the first place?
Our ‘freedom of choice’ is ever narrowed down to a few things; one predominant musical genre and a hand full of artists representing it. On some pop radio stations, you can hear the entire program in a couple of days and one would think that artists like Jimi Hendrix only ever wrote two songs; “All Along The Watchtower” and “The Wind Cried Mary.”
Having an opinion about music and art begins with knowing what you like or don’t like. An honest assessment of who you are because one of the most fulfilling journeys you can take in music or art is self-discovery.
It doesn’t really matter if there are technical complexities or if the thing is simple, because the bottom line is; do YOU like it or not?
Sure the snobs will try and intimidate you and make you think you need a PHD to listen to music or look at a picture but take Bach, for example. I liked Bach when I was in first grade and I certainly had no idea that it was highly intellectual and complex music. I just liked it, so it’s possible to like something without taking a course on it.
Conversely, back when they played a lot of avant-garde music, if you didn’t like it, you were told that you just didn’t understand it. This didn’t turn out to be true as, the more I understood it, the less I liked it. 

So you can start by just being honest with yourself about what you like and don’t like and not worry about anyone trying to make you wrong over it. When you identify things you like then you might start to find out more about them and then you can have informed opinions about the finer aspects of what it is you are enjoying.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Composers And Artists Are The Visionaries Of Society

Ask a hundred people for a definition of art and get a hundred different definitions; from something that is transformational to something that decorates a living room.
Same with music; to some a transformational experience and to others something that exudes from the speakers in an elevator or supermarket.
What category the music or art falls into seems to have a lot to do with who pays for the production of it.
Beethoven, probably the most successful independent artist, was one where creativity reached the highest state of the game. People who heard him play live reported being transported into another world altogether and countless listeners since have attested to transformational experiences from hearing his music.
At this time, the Sturm und Drang or Storm and Stress movement was afoot. This was a reactive movement to the church, which had been producing most of the music until then.
The Sturm und Drang movement asserted the freedom of composers to create music that reflected the reality of life, which could be harsh. The church was opposed to this sort of art since the church was taking care of things and, in its view; everything was well and good in the best of all possible worlds. This last is a line from the book Candide, a satire on the world scene.   
Go back a little further and we have The Fool or Court Jester, probably the precursor to the stand-up comedian. As tradition goes, The Fool was a bit insane and spoke in riddles.
The king kept him around because he could do the one thing that the king’s subjects would never dare to do and that is to speak the truth. So speaking the truth was easy then; all you had to do was to be insane or pretend to be insane, speak in riddles and be entertaining.
What a good thing we have moved beyond all of this and today’s artists can be free to speak the truth.

“I am the Walrus! Googoogajoob!”

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Whoever Controls The Media Controls The Mind.

This is a quote from Jim Morrison. Applicable to all types of media, we will here take up how this applies to music and art.
When young and naïve, aspiring towards a career in music, say, one has a conception of a field of endeavor that abounds in creativity.
If one has had any brush with the professional end of things, however, a completely different picture begins to emerge; an awareness that music and art are among the most tightly controlled and suppressed areas of enterprise in all of human activity.
That is unless one has managed to remain beneath the proverbial rock all his life.
One way that the media controls music is through artificially created popularity. This is done through selective stat reporting.
It works like this;
For example, let us say the statistic is number of Christians in a given state and say that number is reported as ten thousand. Now say you survey ten thousand Christians and ask them the question ‘what is god?’
Well, you would get ten thousand different definitions of god. But you say ‘you believe in god, therefore you must be a Christian and they say ‘that’s right I must be a Christian.’
Now all the folks who were sitting on the fence say ‘well, we must be Christians too because that must be the right thing. Look at all the people who are Christians.’
The media insists that a person is only capable of liking one kind of music; that which they happen to be pushing at the time. 
According to a survey that I’ve been running for close to ten years, using interviews on my own radio station and various social media, most people actually like multiple genres of music and a fair number secretly listen to ‘classical’ music despite the media’s insistence that this music no longer exists.
The media, driven by the record companies create a demand for what they are selling. They even go so far as to engineer bands and keep stables of pop musicians that they can readily plug into whatever projects they come up with.
This is how such unlikely pairings as Elton John and John Lennon came about. 
Strange days indeed.
They ignore anything different or original because that would all be too hard to control and would lead to independent efforts springing up and making things difficult for them.
I suppose this is only disturbing if you believe that artists make an important contribution to culture and a stagnant state of the art leads to a downward spiral in society at large.

Again I will leave you to draw your own conclusions other than to observe that it’s been some time since we’ve heard about the Dawning of Aquarius or the assertion that we can change the world.