Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Everyone's doing it

So a few weeks ago I asked "Why no blues wars?" And in the interim I've been maybe a little hard on the "jazz scene" and its denizens for falling prey to self-absorption, and for wondering about the music's place / significance with a special kind of eloquent anxiety and grandeur.

(Of course these are not bad things to wonder, per se, as long as the parlor game they are part of doesn't take over and become your whole reason for existing.)

Part of my theory has been that this turn of events is a trait of post-modern (post-post-modern?) jazz. Since the stuff is generally an intellectual music (not to the exclusion of other things, but still), it tends to produce musicians and fans who are highly self-aware, both of the music's history and their own place in it. Smart people are usually self-aware, so that's nothing shocking.

Anyway, I had been assuming such things were peculiar and endemic to jazz, and then I come across this:

For the last year or so, I've been receiving issues of Rolling Stone Magazine in the mail. Keep in mind, I never ordered a subscription, and I've never paid for an issue, but they still keep sending them. It's such an asinine and irrelevant magazine these days, that I suppose this is the only way they can get people to read. Anyways, the latest issue showed up while I was away this weekend, and as you can see by the magnificent cover, Rolling Stone really has their shit together. First of all, The State of Rock is the title of your issue, but you feature the fucking Black Eyed Peas on the cover? Way to go, retards. And the subtitle of the very same issue is "40 Reasons to Get Excited About Music starring The Black Eyed Peas." Really? REALLY?

Aside from everything else going on in this commentary, it occurred to me that "40 Reasons to Get Excited About Music" could just as easily have been the title of an issue of Jazz Times. The very idea of an institution like Rolling Stone deeming it necessary to take on an advocacy role -- as opposed to merely providing a literary context for popular music -- was kind of surprising to me.

So maybe this whole anxiety thing is not restricted to jazz at all. Maybe we're all worried about the future of whatever kind of music we happen to be making.

Must do more research.


Anonymous said...

I think it has more to do with the increasing desperation on the part of magazines to get people to read them. "Hey, we're relevant! We know what music to get excited about!"

Andrew Durkin... said...

I think that's true too. But why are they desperate? Because readership is down. And why is readership down?

Pavlo said...

What’s in doubt I think is the future of the Music Industry. The existence of said industry is not necessarily a given. It was not always in existence; some form of musical culture must go back to the dawn of humanity, but the Music Industry itself only dates back to the latter part of the 19th century. But since this is the primary means by which pretty much everyone has come to engage with music in the last century or so, and since the health of this Industry seems to degrade by the day, the very existence of our particular musical culture seems to be in question, and no-one has a very good idea of what might replace it.

Here’s a quote from Brian Eno that I think speaks to this whole issue in an interesting way:

"I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn't last, and now it's running out. I don't particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you'd be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate – history's moving along. Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it."