Just as fast as possible we have to find the Pussy Riot of our own culture. This is not celebrity or international personality consumerism – the Pussy Riot women carry meaning. The fact that they are so striking a presence is a lesson for us. Commercial artists are now an obscure oxymoron. Beyonce, Gaga, Bieber etc. dare us with meaninglessness. All the smooth-skinned human products persuade us that fame for its own sake, product for the sake of selling – is harmless. No, this approach to culture, which infects the fine arts as well as Hollywood and Broadway, must be slain by the meaning they have left behind. The price that is being paid by all of us for these years of culture with no meaning can be seen in our inability to prevent wars, climate disruption, and the extinction of life. The arts should be leading the way toward a new way of living. At this point, because of how meaningless depoliticized culture is locked in place – the artists of the future, like Pussy Riot, must be revolutionary. Must deliver freedom. Must make the cossacks and cowboys, czars and CEO’s show their crazy violence. -rev
“Tangentially, its possible that grunge has been temporarily or permanently exiled based on what it begat. Who wants to claim Pearl Jam or Soundgarden as an influence after a parade of Creed and other nu-rock mutants?”
There’s also this authenticity thing where, if I’m playing a piece and it’s not risky for me to do it, if it’s so easy because I know it so well that there’s not risk involved, I feel like I’m cheating the audience and I’m cheating myself.
A most intriguing question: Where has all the protest music gone? Michael Fallon’s “This Art is Your Art” series is a more worthy read than I had anticipated.
“It’s possible that we live in a time when our values have turned so inward into personal introspection and self-regard that we find it impossible to gather together and sing about a common cause. Or else protest music may simply be too embarrassing a relic of the past, of a time when such well-meaning sentiment actually meant something. Today is a different age, we prefer to think, when problems are so complex, so difficult to solve that they’re not even worth bringing up in polite society.”
Are we content to live with the classics of the past that still speak to today? I’m sure there are songs out there expressing the frustrations of the times, we’re just not being exposed to them on a grand social scale. Our options are dumbed down by mass media or the more obscure findings of our own explorations that aren’t widespread.
I’d love to see some good playlists addressing this. The author gives us a good start at the end of this piece. What songs would you add to the mix?
There is something about a tall man with hairy legs, in a black dress, and singing French love songs that captures the beautiful contradiction of Edith Piaf’s life and music.
And April Smith and the Great Picture Show knock one out of the ballpark at the Newport Folk Festival this past weekend. This is one trend that ain’t over folks.
You may have heard her song "Terrible Things" teasing the new season of Weeds on Showtime. Regardless, scoot over to NPR and listen to their archive of the aformentioned performance or the June 2010 concert on Mountain Stage. I’m sure April wouldn’t mind terribly if you bought the album.
While you’re at the store, check out the artwork on her t-shirts. It’s everything we’ve been talking about.
“Judging from some tracks on her new album ‘Songs for a Sinking Ship,’ Brooklyn singer/songwriter April Smith is quite the burlesque bad girl. Verbally smacking down the competition for her man’s affections (’Dixie Boy’) and confessing to sins apparently too atrocious to mention (’Terrible Things’), Smith takes a ride into the annals of vintage Mason-Dixon pop, packing a sound full of sassy hooks and swinging rhythms.” – Paste