My rant today is about something extremely close to my heart… music. I’m a musician that wears various hats. I play 4 different instruments; albeit not with perfection, but I can hold my own for the most part. I’m also a songwriter/lyricist. The latter is a true passion; however, as discussed, due to events of my past, I haven’t indulged in the passion in a long time.
By choice, I am a gospel musician. That’s not to say I couldn’t do any other genre, but *my* opinion is that being a musician who plays 90% by ear and 10% by theory, it is a true gift of God, and I’ve always been one who enjoys giving my gift back to Him. That’s just me, not to look down on anyone who uses their gift. I am very eclectic in my musical tastes.
Others would disagree I’m sure. I have little tolerance for heavy/death metal because while the bands can play; I’m sure, there’s so much distortion used and screaming that frankly, it frightens me. I also have very little tolerance for country music, much to the dismay of my wife. Of course, marriage is compromise, so I will endure it with her for awhile, but although in actuality, it is probably the closest thing to “pure music” there is out there, I’m just not a fan of the genre.
You can find me listening to all sorts of other genres however. My iPod contains a plethora of genres: classical, hip/hop, rap, gospel, rock, soul, funk, zydeco and yes, even some country. (I said I wasn’t a fan, never said there weren’t a few exceptions) Although, I have all kinds of music that fits my mood or mental state at the time, I often get “talked about” by my friends because according to them, my music tastes is… well.. archaic. But I wouldn’t say that my tastes are dated, but rather; it’s better than what is out there now.
Music used to have meaning. It used to convey emotion. Music has a way of touching places that simple words cannot. Music can convey a message sometimes that simple words cannot. You can play a nice diminished jazz chord and you feel the emotion in your bones. Music was used to tell a story about everyday life; actual life not the fantasy of gold and riches. Music used to have a righteous anger towards the injustices of the world like poverty, war, violence, racism, sexism and apathy. Music uplifted us during hard times. Musicians in New Orleans could turn a regular washboard and spoon, a bucket and some garbage cans into an entire rhythm section. Music used to call for the love of your fellow man.
Artists were immersed in society and knew how to cut a timely record to get fans through times when hope and love were commodities. In 1968, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Black folks were disenchanted with the prominent racism, bigotry and injustice that they had been dealing with their whole lives. I was not alive back then, but to know that it was worse than the racism in the 80s and even today, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to get through it without a broken spirit. James Brown saw a need for Black folks to be uplifted and to be proud of their heritage. It was then that he penned and released, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Fourteen years later, Paul McCartney observed the racial divide that still existed in the world and wrote “Ebony and Ivory”, a song that called for the unity of Blacks and Whites. In 1971, Marvin Gaye recognized the plight of the World Ecology and that it was being vastly ignored. This caused him to pen “Mercy Me (The Ecology)” to call attention to the problem. To this day, this song is probably one of the most famous Ecology themed songs ever written. In 1985 when Ethiopia was hit with possibly the worst famine of the 20th century, Harry Belafonte desired unite the music industry and release a charity song to help with the efforts of feeding the starving people of Ethiopia. With writing skills of Lionel Ritchie, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder “We Are the World” was born. It was a groundbreaking song that reached across all genres to unite in a cause that evoked empathy from the entire world.
Twenty-five years later, an earthquake of massive proportions hits the island of Haiti. The music industry responded again….with the same song.
Are you telling me that there is no more empathy in the world that a new song of outreach could not have been produced? Don’t get me wrong, I love the song; but the 2010 version seemed to be rushed, and had artist like “Lil’ Wayne” singing??? You guys DO know he’s a rapper, right? If Michael Jackson had still been alive, I’m sure even he would’ve punched whoever chose the soloist in the mouth!
Music today doesn’t have the empathy or love that music of yesteryear contained. When did women decide that it was better to show all their business, and boast about the sexually explicit things they would do to someone for some money? You guys know that’s prostitution, which I believe is illegal in all states except Nevada, right?
What happened to the Queen Latifah’s of the world who said: “Every time I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a hoe, tryin’ to make a sister feel low, you know all that gots to go…” and asked, “Who you callin’ a bitch?” This was released in 1994, just before hip/hop artist lost their minds and forgot how to respect women.
Why is it that rappers and hip/hop artists these days find the need to describe every sexually explicit action that goes on in their bedroom? Why is it that you must detail the fact that you’re ASKING for an STD by sleeping with 4 girls at the same time? Why is it you’re always talkin’ about the 25 cars you have in back of your big ass house in the hills? Are you gonna share? Don’t you think you should start a retirement plan? We’re in a recession; I can barely pay my car note! Unless you’re gonna share your wealth, I don’t need to hear about the fact that you’re burning money and smoking weed and poppin’ X with some broad you just met at the club.
Why are you braggin’ about all the gold and platinum you have in your mouth? Stop smiling! I can see my retina over here! And for the love of God, pull your damn pants up! I don’t wanna see your drawers!
And what the hell is a “Stanky Leg”????Why is everything about sex and violence these days, rather than love? Parents want to know what’s wrong with kids these children? Stop letting them listen to this garbage! You got people talkin’ about packin’ guns, bustin’ caps, fuckin’ bitches, having a bunch of hoes and ridin’ around in gas guzzling Escalades while they flip the bird to society and wonder why your child is tellin’ you to “go to hell”?
Yes, I’m a liberal minded person. I believe in the 1st Amendment in its true nature. Conservatives feel that they should just take away some of the 1st Amendment liberties to solve the problem…. I disagree… Stop being punk ass parents! It’s up to YOU to make sure your children know the love and hope that we once had in music. Although I hated having to listen to my parent’s music, I’m grateful that they exposed me to it. So what if my tastes are “dated” as they are called. I’d rather be a dated ideologist than filled with apathy.
Where are the songs of today’s trials? We have an illegal war that seems never-ending. Where are the songs about that? How bout the songs about having nothing, being broke and down and out; but being able to smile because the little things are what give us joy? How bout songs about the equality of all people, despite race, gender or sexual orientation? The eco-system is worse than ever, how about more songs about that?
I miss musicians who could play instruments. I miss seeing a full band with every instrument under the sun. I miss people who could sing. Technology has advanced so much that anyone can sound like Whitney or Mariah. I miss knowing that folks on the mic had to carry a tune or go play the triangle! I miss seeing the talent of those who could create something so magical that it can catapult you to another place; one better than where we are today. I miss the hope of it all. I miss the romance.
Sure I could write it myself, but hell, *I* don’t have a contract for anyone to sing it.
The truth of it all is: I miss music.