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When I was a twenty-something, it seemed my whole world revolved about talking endlessly about music. How this music is better than that music. It was my personal crusade to change the minds of those who were not enlightened.
How things have changed. How little things have changed.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to teach a "college" music appreciation class to high school kids. This school being GW, from my experience an upper middle to upper class school, the kids were relatively behaved. However during the first week, a blond girl in the back was interrupting with her constant chatter. There is always the boisterous one, isn't there? Back in the day, it might have been me.
After I played some Gregorian chant, which to her probably sounded like droning boredom, she made this proclamation: "You are never going to get me to like this music. I never will." She said this with a smile that was smug, to be sure. She had gotten me. Or so she believed.
In one of my most rare moments of clarity, I paused and thought for a moment. Then I said with perfect calm: "Miss, I am not here to entertain you. I am here to educate you." The class erupted with oohs and aahs, but she had no reply. I have never been more eloquent.
I still go on tirades. Yes, ask my wife. The CMAs, VMAs and MTV award shows I now can watch with very few snide remarks. I see them as a display of the industry's thoroughbreds. A pretty pony show with glitter, glam and the show of skin. Sometimes, there are performances that transcend the event-something actually happens up on the stage besides lipsyncing and great dancing. These moments are rare as royalty checks to musicians.
There will always be "tween" music to annoy adults, success and fame to artistes who are barely literate, let alone competent musicians and a merciless industry that views music as "content" or "product" that views the authors and performers of those products as gullible-too stupid to realize how badly they are being ripped off.
Am I being too harsh here?
Last night, it was classic. Miley Cyrus was live via satellite on Jay Leno. He asks ten questions to the guest. Knowing just a little about Leno's style, I would gaurantee that the celebrity has no prior knowledge of these questions. There she was, acting like a brat (my wife said the b word), and the lack of concern was obvious. When asked how many seats the venue she was about to play had, she did not know. She looked off camera to someone for the answer. Think about it: she had to have a publicist there to answer silly questions by Jay. The final question was to name as many of her dad's songs as she could within 10 seconds. She named four; two of which her offscreen assistant helped her with. All the publicity machines in the world could not disquise this simple fact: she ain't the brightest bulb in the hardware store. With her wealth, why should she care? She's already set for life. She'll do the Brittany-sexpot route next, along with some more medicore movies until the Miley machine runs out of gas due to public disinterest.
Don't worry, there's always a pack of newer, prettier faces ready to replace her.
To quote Hemingway:
What can I do
To set things right?
Support local and national musicians by buying tickets, CDs and playing them on my radio show. That's about all I can do. But at least it's something.
And still go on tirades.