Sometimes it's hard for me to write. Not necessarily because of lack of inspiration. More from too much going on in my head. And my head has been buzzing lately with a lot of things personally and professionally. If you read this blog long enough (and if you've been reading my MySpace blog for longer than this blog has been around), you'll understand that this is a story. A story of a modern musician. An artist who fights for artistry and struggles against a machine that cares little for artistry and whose only desire is to use artists as a tool for money and power.
What is unique to modernity is not the struggle but the manifestation of it. Musicians have always struggled but there have been times in music history where artistry flourished. Any music historian will easily point to American music history from the 60s to mid-70s as a time of growth, creativity and innovation. Music that was experimental or "outside the mainstream" could thrive. There was an openness in the industry.
It's difficult for me to judge how much creativity and innovation is going on nowadays because the mainstream overshadows what you tend to hear. You can certainly hear a diverse amount of music on the Internet, but mainly if you're looking for it specifically. You're not tuning in to your local FM station and hearing your favorite DJ tell you about some new and upcoming artist that is completely different from what you've heard before. Creativity and diversity is not encouraged in the mainstream. One has to play it safe - try to stay with what they "know" is going to sell.
I'm not saying anything new, but I am trying to emphasize that this is a symptom of our times. Music writers are not just complaining about the downfall of country music, they are complaining about the lack of inspiring music in the mainstream in all genres.
I read http://www.the9513.com regularly. For those of you that are hardcore country readers, you will instantly notice that this blogsite focuses on ALL country music. Which is why I like it. As much as I love hardcore country music, I have to understand that I am a modern musician. I live in TODAY. I have to stay informed of what is going on in the mainstream and the industry in general.
I found the blog Your Take: Recommend an Artist very interesting. Nathan Rabin is a hip-hop music critic. He became disillusioned with the hip-hop scene and decided to travel down a different path for awhile. He has started a year-long series called Nashville or Bust. It's kind of like watching his self-educated journey through Country Music History. What caught my eye was this statement about his struggle with finding 10 top hip-hop albums in a year:
“They should be the albums that get under our skin, that speak to something profound and inexpressible deep within us, that linger in the subconscious long after we’ve taken them out of our eight-tracks and reel-to-reel players.”
My theory about modern mainstream music in general is that it has not necessarily lost its intellect but it has lost its soul. Maybe you can blame it on autotune and pitch correction and the ability to make every note sound “perfect”. Maybe you can blame it on a society focused on materialism, comfortable in a pre-recession time of false wealth.
But soul is gone. That beautiful quality of uniqueness of the human soul. Lefty Frizzell and Marty Robbins had voices so different but they both could emote and deliver a song to make you cry. WHO in music is touching our souls today? And WHY can we not force the industry to allow these voices to be heard?
Or maybe we are not quite ready. Maybe we are still so numb to our feelings that we cannot reach those deep places where we are “so lonesome [we] could cry”.