Friday, February 10, 2006

Soul Gets Squeezed Out

Bobby Lightfoot has been posting some of his out-takes, demos and alternate versions. Some good music there, available for free.

He writes:

"Well, it ain't 1964 anymore and it sure ain't no Baroque period. Being a pop writer now is disgusting. I wouldn't attempt it again for any money. It's sick and bad. A bad instinct. A bad course to take in a society like ours, unless you are able to completely detach yourself from your output. Music is the windowdressing of culture, the frame; so that would make music now like a velvet pillow upon which a steaming turd is lovingly arranged. Look at those motherfucking car ads with those Who and Zeppelin songs. Jesus Christ.

Look at what we're doing. Look at who we're elevating to the top of the music heap. How could you derive any satisfaction from success when it's such a fucking race to the bottom? When it's a lottery?

Don't get me wrong; I don't particularly idealize any period in pop music. But all the artists I love are proud of what they've done. Even Lennon. How can these people be proud of what they're doing? It's foul. Foul."

I know how he feels. The music business has always been just that – a business. It has always been corrupt. Artists have forever been treated badly by the biz, taken advantage of, ripped-off. They’ve been beat up and battered around, sent up and shot down, terrorized, hypnotized, over-exposed and commercialized.

But they were artists. The suits USED to look for ARTISTS to exploit. They signed Hendrix. They signed Elton. They signed Bowie (whom I don’t really care for, but that is another post for another day.) They signed The Talking Heads and Elvis Costello. Dylan. Springsteen. Creative individuals that had something to say artisically and musically.

Back in the day.

One day, I don’t know it musta been around the time people started buying up Bon Jovi records, they figured out, “Hey – screw the artistes. They’re pains-in-the-asses. Let’s find some very average people who look good in videos!” Before that, the suits were looking for great music made by artists so they could make themselves rich. Can anyone with a straight face try to convince us that Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson are musicians of the caliber of Carole King or Aretha Franklin? That 50 cent (which is too much to charge for his entire catalogue if you ask me) and Eminem rank with Otis Redding or Al Green?

Anyway, Bobby’s post reminded me of this song (click here to listen) by Porcupine Tree. Words are brilliant, and the music is sublime. Gives me chills every time I listen.

The Sound of Muzak
By Steven Wilson
From In Absentia

Hear the sound of music
Drifting in the aisles
Elevator prozac
Stretching on for miles

The music of the future
Will not entertain
It's only meant to repress
And neutralise your brain

Soul gets squeezed out
Edges get blunt

Gives what you want

One of the wonders of the world is going down
It's going down
I know
It's one of the blunders of the world that no-one cares
No one cares enough

Now the sound of music
Comes in silver pills
Engineered to suit you
Building cheaper thrills

The music of rebellion
Makes you wanna rage
But it's made by millionaires
Who are nearly twice your age

Soul gets squeezed out
Edges get blunt
Gives what you want

One of the wonders of the world is going down
It's going down
I know
It's one of the blunders of the world that no-one cares
No one cares enough


Anonymous blue girl said...

May seem like a weird thought -- but this is what your post got me to thinking about.

Artists will move into an old area because the rent is cheap. More artists follow. Pretty soon galleries open and cool restaurants open up. Usually there's that cool coffee shop, too where people hang out. This begins to attract people to the area because people want to feel hip and be known as hip for hanging out there.

Then, the suits see the area as a business opportunity. And they ruin it. Starbucks will replace the cool coffee shop, condos are built, rents skyrocket, etc.

I'm noticing that doesn't quite happen anymore. The suits just decided to forget about the pesky artists thing and build little "fake" *cool* villages all over the country. Where you can pretend your cool while walking down fake cobblestone streets, with fake old-fashioned looking black iron lamp posts while you shop at Talbott's and Eddie Bauer.

We have lost a great deal (a GREAT deal, I type as my heart breaks)because artists of all kinds are not appreciated at all. Creativity is looked at as useless.

Why create something new or support those who do when you can have a business model based on something that's already been done and simply re-create that?

Backed by lots of money so that they can just cram it down everyone's throats day in and day out?

Sorry for rambling. It's such a depressing time.

10:33 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Blue -

You should post this at your place. It is really good and should not be collecting dust in my comments section. It deserves a wider audience.


11:14 AM  
Blogger fgfdsg said...


I feel your pain, I did a post back on January 13th about the subject of how this has been happening to my home town.

I never followed it up because I doubted anyone was that interested in the subject.

It's funny, because the couple of blocks south of where these terrace houses stand is being gradually assimilated into the Dreaded 'Lifestyle' way of thinking, but since it was the poorer end of the street where rent used to be cheap, there's also all these blue collar places like printeries and stock and station agents that are gradually being driven out by Manicure Places, Yuppie Gym-ettes, and Expensive Knick Knack Shops. You can actually see the 'culture clash' happening as you walk down the street from shop to shop.

The worst part of it is they're redesigning the main street in an imitation of what they call 'historical restoration' to meet these "Lifestyle Zombies" expectations - how these new arrivals *expect* a country town main street to look, not the actual reality of what it *did* look like.

It drives me nuts!

2:51 PM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

You've really hit on something here. The music biz has indeed exploited many many artists. But, yeah, they were artists, dammit.

It's obvious that the image-making, which was always a marketing tool in service to the music, has now become the main reason for the creation of these "stars" while the music becomes entirely secondary.

Notice how many of the music stars (they can't be called musicians) move immediately into clothing lines and other areas once they hit it big? Because they sure as hell ain't in it for the music.

4:09 PM  
Blogger XTCfan said...

Sorry folks, but I've got to disagree here. For many, many, many years, the pop-music industry was split into performers and songwriters. The singer-songwriter is a relatively new phenomenon.

I used to get worked up over this, but then I just learned to tell myself that Britney is not a musician, she's a performer. Yes, the music business is not fair -- it never has been -- but this helps dull the pain just a bit.

1:08 PM  

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