20 February 2008

And This Would Be A Bad Thing?

If U2 were starting out in today's music industry, you might never have heard of us.

- Bono

That's more or less a paraphrase of a Bono quote used in a wretched little documentary called Before The Music Dies that I happened to run across this afternoon on IFC.

I didn't watch it all, finding a Law and Order rerun on another channel more scintillating, but I caught enough of it to get the gist: a bunch of has-beens and never-weres from the 70s and 80s whining about how the industry today is "only concerned with image and money," not the "real" and "good" music they had back in our day, blah blah blah...

Yes, another version of "Kids these days are being brainwashed into buying crappy music and so we can't get record deals anymore." It doesn't help their case that the examples of "brilliant" and "genius" music they cite are things like Peter Gabriel, Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, in other words, the kind of crap that the filmmakers obviously grew up with (and were apparently warped for life by).

This "today's music is all style and no substance" argument has probably been going on as long as music has existed; I remember my dad using it against Elvis Presley and the Beatles when I was a kid. And I may have trotted it out myself in some of my more pompous or opinionated moments, but today I'd say that the alleged death of the traditional music industry is one of the best things that could happen for music, and that while there are all sorts of popular music today that I don't care for at all, there is a better and broader selection of music available today - and, via the internet and other modern means of communication, more easily available - than pretty much, well, ever.

Just in my own favorite genre of punk and pop-punk, there is more stuff - and I mean really good stuff - coming out than I can hope to keep track of. And the same is true of nearly every other style of music. And if we can count on the failure of the traditional music industry to protect us from the emergence of another U2/Sting/Eric Clapton/etc. etc., I see that as cause for singing and dancing in the streets.


Anonymous said...


Larry Livermore said...

Yay! A well-reasoned, pithy critique from one of the masses who apparently likes at least one of the horrible bands/performers/people mentioned. Thanks for your input, and keep coming back; we need informed and thoughtful opinions like yours to stimulate intelligent discussion and ultimately arrive at the truth!

Anonymous said...

Right on Larry! I posed a similar question/comment to the filmmaker himself at the East Lansing Film Festival a year ago. He was not pleased, let me tell you.