Not to go all Marxist on your @ss, but that time is also when professional grade ‘means of (music) production’ moved from huge expensive studios to ’bedrooms’. And while you say no individual or group has moved the needle since nirvana 1991’, I’d submit mid 90’s-early 2000’s electronic dance music/rave/dj culture as having hugely moved the needle culturally - but in a much more distributed or horizontal (or even long tail) way of producing, distributing and consuming music. Rock (Or corporate rock at least) had a handful of major record label gatekeepers (similar to the handful of major film studios and tv networks) that throttled variety and gave folks a limited number of choices. So clearly a ‘big hit’ could become a cultural phenomenon ‘cuz there wasn’t much else to choose from. Democratizing the means of production was the engine behind that shift.
The thing that I loved about dance music was we didn’t always know (or care) who actually made the record that was spinning, and even better weren’t even looking at the DJ who was spinning it (and who usually had more name-recognition than the producers of the records he spun). Dance music was 360 degrees and broke down the difference between ‘performer’ and ‘spectator’. So it was more of a ‘hive’ effect than a couple of super ‘rockstar’ performers getting all the recognition.
(And i think it was to edm’s detriment that in the early/mid-2000’s it started moving towards the rockstar mode with huge stages and everyone facing the name brand dj like a rock concert instead of just dancing their faces off. ).
that is unfortunately capitalism’s greatest talent - absorbing anything that’s a threat and turning it into a commodity…but that’s a whole ‘nother convo. **looking for a Guy Debord-ish emoji - ooh here’s one ***.
Little Richard on the Dick Cavett Show. Greil Marcus wrote about this in his book Mystery Train and just like his review, in the same book, of Across 110th Street, he gets the details wrong, but it’s still a lot of fun. LR is in the second hour. Alas his song seems to have been cut.
I was an early and fervent fan of the White Stripes, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to make the argument that they changed anything about rock or the general culture. Beck, Sublime and (ugh) Blink 182 (or any of the other whine-punk pretenders of that era) maybe but none of them come close to a The Who, Pink Floyd, Springsteen, Elvis Costello or Nirvana.
I’m not even a crazy Nirvana fan, but their impact was absolutely astounding and created a good decade of progress in rock. ETA: and the culture at large (and this is not to diminish the impact of their peers like Soundgarden, Meat Puppets or Pearl Jam, but they were unparalleled in their cultural reach for the time).
Also, these are just opinions and, therefore, utterly valueless.
Agreed. But what I was specifically calling to was broader popular culture and, as impactful as that stuff was, it was pretty rarified overall. Less so in Europe, but still, pretty narrow influence-wise.
The broader point you make about the gatekeepers of music (and their demise) is spot on and what I was trying to articulate. I was once accused of not loving any female rock bands. It really made me think about it because I adore Heart, Joni Mitchell, The Pretenders et al and I was surprised that someone would think that. But it made me realize why this would appear to be the case; there were millions of amazing female-centric bands, but they were never allowed the same space or publicity as their male peers. Not due to lack of talent, but just boring old sexism at the hands of the very same gatekeepers.
I wonder if it isn’t because he was part of a generation of sci-fi writers who had mostly already died by the '90s. (Only a couple of the “Golden Age” science fiction writers outlived him.) So every time someone in a group dies, our brains try to turn it into a pattern, a quality that we unconsciously apply to others in that group.
Also, obituaries of artists often mention who was influenced by them, who their contemporaries were, etc., with famous names more likely to appear. So by the time a famous artist dies, assuming they didn’t die young, they’re likely to have already been mentioned in a bunch of obituaries. It’s sort of “death by association” - we know we’ve seen their name in an obituary or two…
Yeah - I was just thinking in terms of who is keeping the spirit of rock alive - not necessarily changing culture to the extent Nirvana did. I can say that taking my 14-year old to see both Jack two years ago and Raconteurs last summer were almost life changing experiences, and especially epic in terms of getting my son into music. He’s now majorly into Joy Division, Black Sabbath, Nirvana, insert any heavy guitar-based bands here - as well as deeply into New Order, The Smiths, Bauhaus, The Cure and a plethora of new “synth-wave” bands like Waveshaper and Robert Parker. This deep love of music all goes back to taking him to see Jack White at age 13 - so for me, it was a profound experience of father-son bonding - while also showing me at age 50 that live music can still be a big deal (although as you say, it’s not culturally as significant than what happened with all the Seattle bands in the early 90s - I think that sort of paradigm shift is unlikely to happen again with the way the music industry is now.)
Not necessarily! You got me to give you a lengthy response! Not something I often do on forums these days…
Musical genres are defined narrowly enough that at some point, the musical space has been pretty well explored. I’ve wondered for a long time if this isn’t true of rock.
Also, listening to contemporary rock music, I frequently am acutely aware of how much they sound just like bands of 20-odd years ago; when I was in my teens and twenties, I often treated bands at the time as novelties that they really weren’t, because I couldn’t always be aware of their influences. (To some degree, bands that were popular before one was born retain some cultural presence, so one is aware of them even without being into “old music,” of course.)
So I definitely find myself less accepting of new music because it doesn’t feel all that new.
That is awesome. My kids, especially my son, are both so attuned to music and have been heavily influenced by what I’ve exposed them to. It’s amazing to see them in this new era where everything is literally at your fingertips still gravitate toward the best of the best and rediscover stuff that I overlooked or was never exposed to. All in all, it’s so much better than having to wait to be told what’s cool by an older sibling, record store dude or Clear Channel “dj”.
Seeing the White Stripes in NYC ca. 2004 was absolutely one of the greatest shows of my life. Ween holds the #1 spot, though.
Precisely. Genres are almost snapshots of zeitgeist; when the world moves on there are plenty of acolytes, but there just can’t be the same cultural resonance. What I wonder about is what is next, if anything. We seem to be in a period of cultural nostalgia as opposed to cultural innovation. There’s a lot at play here; the New World evolving into a juvenile state, the World Wars, the end of European empire and the rise of global culture all of which had a tremendous impact on popular art and culture. I’m not sure what else can have that level of impact again.
That being said, there is one genre that has transcended western culture in a way that I think nothing else has or could; hip-hop/rap. It has literally spanned the globe with a resonance that seems to disregard cultural or social boundaries.
I never did, although I don’t really give a damn about pop music. I never have, but the older I get, the more offbeat I like my new music.
Without RTFA, I’d say a lot of it must have to do with getting married and having kids. At a certain age (late 20s to early 30s and if you’re not married by 35 WTAF is wrong with you /s) you’re supposed to be less focused on being an individual with interests and friends and a life and more focused on being Mommy or Daddy. So listening to new music is something one would do in their former life.
I’ve never thought of music in that way. I don’t like listening to music simply because everybody else listens to it. Finding new music is like exploration for me. I don’t know what I like until I seek it out. When I find it, it doesn’t matter if it was written when I was 35, when I was 40, or 350 years before I was born.
We have neighbors who favor loud music outdoors, which is whatever. I don’t like pop, country or radio hip-hop/r&b, and they play them all. And while I know that music is largely subjective, I believe I have found a single fecile thread linking shit music in all genres, and it is autotune.
I’ve known plenty of single people who let their musical tastes ossify at those ages as well, so I think there’s more to it than that, although I can certainly see that as a possible factor. Prior to the internet I suspect one’s ability to follow new music certainly would crater with having kids (everything in my life certainly has), but I don’t feel like I’m completely cut off, and feel comfortable that I’ll be able to keep up even more once I’ve been able to fob the little monster off on government funded education for seven hours a day.
I can agree with this-- with age, one notices how “everything old is new again,” and how trends cycle with time.
But I find it fascinating how, as styles come around again, they evolve. There’s a few dance tracks I’ve heard that remind me of disco. Some of the pop songs of the last decade seem to borrow from folk songs of the 60s. One of my favorite rock bands had a phase where they were strongly influenced by Queen (especially under a particular producer), yet their sound was uniquely their own. (They’re getting back together this year, and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with now!)
I’ll admit, as I’ve gotten older and responsibilities weigh more heavily on me, I haven’t always had the time (or the budget) to follow the music scene as closely as I did when I was as teenager. And there’s been times in recent years when I barely listened to any music, much less new artists. But that’s nobody’s fault but mine. The Internet is going a long way toward breaking the gatekeepers’ stranglehold on access to the airwaves. Bands can post their music to YouTube, SoundCloud and BandCamp, and find listeners without having to struggle to break into the Top 40. Hell, I found out about Janelle Monae from io9… and I love her.
So while I do take music in general less seriously than I did as a teen, and I’ve found myself thinking, “X sounds an awful lot like an update of Y” more than once, I don’t think new bands are necessarily less than the performers of my misspent youth. It’s still good.