18 December 2006

The coincidence of good music and good lyrics is definately the exception, not the rule.

(Note how I used that smarmy, fatuous blogger technique of taking an idea thought to be exceptionally insightful, and separating it into its own single-sentence paragraph.)

So, in my half-hearted quest to keep one ear open to the endless stream of crap music churned out by the uninspired rock musicians of the day, I listened to an interesting song on the radio..."Starlight" by Muse. I admit the fuzz bass hooked me initially, but the vocals and melody was exceptional for the genre, at least. The guy obviously has a Thom Yorke infatuation, but I'll forgive him that. They are British, and apparently from the same generation (starting in 1994). I've listened to the rest of the album (2006's Black Holes and Revelations), and most of it is hit and miss. Sometimes the music reminds me of stuff my old band did, when I was into what we pompously called "progressive alternative" (could a music style possibly sound any more "San Francisco" than that?). All around there is some good music in it, but the lyrics...

Perhaps they are simply marketing to the wealthy ignorati of American youth...but the gist of the album seems to be a huge anti-Bush screed. This being a BRITISH band, I remind you (not that that stopped their idols, Radiohead, from releasing the likewise childish "Hail to the Thief"). And its not even a logical anti-Bush screed. It contains the popular paradox of Bush as both a foolish simpleton and an evil genius. The first track, "Take a Bow", accuses Bush (or who/whatever) of "crimes against the Earth", "cast[ing] a spell on the country you run", and bringing corruption, death, and destruction to all that he touches. Then he ventures into an orgiastic fit of Bush-hating schadenfreude about how he will burn in hell for his sins. The final track has a line "how can we win when fools can be kings". I'd love to believe that the lyricist was venturing a bit deeper than just politics. "Take a Bow" would have been much subtler, surprising, and interesting if it was written about...let's see...the use of sodium bicarbonate in toothpaste. Or about Dick Clark. In fact, it would have been great to do it about Dick Clark, casting him humourously as the Dark Lord over the Earth. But no, it is a humourless amalagam of tired, childish cliches, served up to emotionally stunted people that find an irrational hatred of a government official to be a bedrock in their lives, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Imagine if they wrote this song about the Secretary of State in 1991. Anyone remember who that was, offhand? No?

My point is that they think that politics is this high ideal...that political protest songs are deep and meaningful. If anything, political lyrics only serve to sever any potential depth of a song, rendering them entirely shallow and shrill. If you think that your life is going to radically change depending on which brand of bureaucrats is helming the leviathan of federal government at the moment...then get a grip, and get on with your life. And if you care that much about the government of ANOTHER COUNTRY...then you're even more silly and pathetic! I can understand Radiohead and Muse seeing a market and exploiting it, I suppose. Just like Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, et al writing silly country songs about kicking terrorist keister and rememberin' them thar Twin Towers, this kind of music is just silly, shallow claptrap marketed to people who feel validated when pop stars sing mantras to them that seem to confirm their feeble thinking.

That said, I know that Eustace Lufgren is in the process of writing a song entitled "Hu Jintao", but it is far from a protest song. More a song of love forelorn, of admiration unspoken, and of funkitude inexplicable. "Hu Jintao...don't you know we gonna make it somehow....somehow."

Perhaps this is the biggest reason I gave up trying to be in a creative rock band. On the rare occasion that I've found creative, talented musicians that have the free time to write and play music, often they end up having a dream to be singer-songwriters as well and have ABSOLUTELY NO TALENT FOR THAT. Honestly, if you can't write good lyrics, shroud them in obscurity. These people would write gut-wrenchingly bad quasi-emo lyrics about the pain (the PAIN!) of whatever-despair-they-are-currently-subjecting-their-emotions-to. Hup-BLAAAAGGGGHH. But the crappiness of emo lyrics is a matter for another day. And...if you are reading this wondering if this rat bastard was talking about you in this paragraph, never fear. The people I'm referring to probably don't even remember me or know my last name, much less know of this blog. I've worked with a lot of great musicians actually, none of us (myself included) seem to have any free time anymore.

Oh, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. (shoot me! shoot me now!) OK, sorry, I won't continue speaking Christmas lyrics. But I'm looking forward to it. Not least for the two days off that I have. Speaking of shooting...I got a Dremel polishing/cleaning kit at Walmart. Yet another tool in my slowly expanding gunsmithing kit. Did some light polishing on the feedramp of my Bersa...hopefully it will work nicely with the Magtech FMJ I still need to buy for the next range trip. Oh, and our Christmas tree may be a rather spindly and cheap Douglas Fir, but its real, at least! I'm not sure about alive, but at least it WAS alive. Although given that petroleum was developed from the organic material of prehistoric plant life, and plastic developed as a petroleum product, you could say the fake-o trees were alive, once, as well.


Matt said...

Much to say, I have.

Re: Last post

I had a class this last semester called "Urban Environmental Policy". I'm sure you can imagine it well enough without a description. Anyways, I learned a lot, I really did, and I do consider myself to be more environmentally-friendly than your normal fundamentalist Christian. (Hah, it's funny how much I hesitated to use fundamentalist, but it's not funny too. There's such a knee-jerk reaction to that term anymore, but it's what I am!)

Anyways, most everyone in the class was your environmentalist activist type. In their case, they want to institute socialism because the ignorant masses aren't going to do what they want them to. No, there will be no legislation passed that protects the environment to the level they desire. So what's the solution...inform the masses and bring grassroots change? No, they are perceived as too polarizing to appeal to any large group of people. What then shall we do? We will MAKE them obey. Thus socialism...the easy way. And you could take away environmentalism and put in any number of issues and it would be the same thing. America don't and won't do what we want, so let's institute a system where they have to.

Re: Music

Have you heard any of the new sort of low fidelity folk type music? Or do you much enjoy the folk/bluegrass genres in general? I'm just finding a bunch of bands that I really like in that category, and if you do like them, I could recommend a few. Surprisingly, Mid-Continent has a rather large selection of these bands to, ummm, borrow.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Regarding hippies I MEAN environmentalism, I have to admit to being heavily influenced by the doctrine of Cartmanism, which has the following tenets:

I. Hippies suck.
II. They want to save the Earth but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad.
III. Hippies suck.

No, but seriously, I get what you're saying. They are totally all about totalitarianism. Socialism and communism are too weak to accomplish what they desire. It is elitism at its worst...a very conscious view of themselves as a higher, intelligent form of life that either has to convert the unthinking proles or dominate them.

Speaking of.......you need to read "Rainbow Six" by Tom Clancy. A very interesting book about environmental terrorism. Kind of focuses on tactical anti-terrorist operations, but the broader storyline is very interesting in line with that topic.

And I'm not anti-environmentalist...I guess I see myself as conservationist. There isn't a more beautiful place in the world than Sequoia National Park, for example. And I'm all about efficiency of energy and all that. I'll even get a hybrid someday when they are cheaper, more fuel efficient, and don't automatically implant an incurable case of liberal smugness in the owner.

With music, I barely dig the hi-fi folk (if such exists). The closest to lo-fi folk that I dig would be...lessee...old Robert Johnson stuff, Delta blues. Another kind of interesting thing I found lately is old recordings online of Cajun music and zydeco from the 20s and 30s. Sure, its accordian music, but it can be kind of interesting.

I've listened to some of the modern, I guess you'd call it alternative folk. I tried to like it (don't remember who it was) but I usually end up losing interest, because it had better offer something musically. Either really rich melodies (as in the old 60s folk-pop music), or very interesting harmonic progressions, borderline jazz expressions and chordal complexity, or something...preferably all of it! I can be hard to please in music...even to myself, which is why I rarely write stuff any more.