Sunday, May 29, 2011

Musical prodigies

Musical prodigies. The true game changers. Artists that stand on the precipice and give the world music that will never be forgotten. The transcenders. The progressers. The virtuoso's you can point at and unequivocally know were ahead of their time and culture.

Plant and Page. Bowie. Morrison. Reznor. Hendrix. They are classical. Their art is eternal. Jackson. Mercury. Yorke. Kobain. Ramone. True rock prodigies.

But who was the last musical transcendent that appeared from the nether and set the art form of music as we know it on a new course of exploration? It feels overdue to me. Enter the current mediocrity of contemporary music.

I'm not someone that likes to attack people for their art. The detractors that spend their time and energy filling blogs, websites and forum posts with venom for things they don't like, are people I am always keen to distance myself from. That kind of 'bad karma' doesn't do anyone any good. If you don't like something, don't waste your time. That said, I find it hard to get too connected to any music I've heard in the past few years. Maybe it's a sign I'm getting old, and that the generation gap is growing like a chasm between a pair of tectonic plates, separating at glacial speed. I've just noticed recently that every new band I hear is, for want of a better word, plain. I haven't had a piece of music get inside my blood, and speak to my soul, the way artists like Nine Inch Nails or David Bowie did the first time I heard them. Maybe music isn't what it used to be. Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age. Maybe I'm going deaf. Who knows. I just know that I have to stop myself almost daily from thinking that whatever contemporary band I'm hearing on the radio doesn't measure up to what I used to hear in my younger days, lest I become a crotchety, old curmudgeon, complaining that new musicians can't do covers that compare to originals. I need a new rock prodigy to light the fire I used to feel.

There could, of course, be an external explanation for how underwhelming I find current artists. Maybe because bands are worrying too much about their twitter feeds and what kind of DRM their new tracks are embedded with, rather than being concerned about committing some gross acts of rock 'n roll, drug fuelled debauchery, has something to do with it. I don't use drugs personally, but if music history has taught us only one thing, it's that drug culture and amazing music run parallel. Name any great artist, and chances are their 'third eye' was teased open with a little chemical inspiration.

To equate that point better than I ever could, here's a clip from the late, great Bill Hicks on music and drugs...

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