Saturday, March 17, 2007

Two views of "Before the Music Dies"

This recently-released movie discusses the current music industry, as well as current and former musicians. The Aspen Times has one view of the movie.

So often I hear the complaint, usually from people in the 40-60 age range: There's no good music these days. Radio sucks. Things just ain't what they used to be.

It breaks my heart to hear such sentiments, not because it's true - it isn't, and if it were, that would truly be a sad, sad state of affairs - but something like the opposite. There's plenty of phenomenal, visionary music out there....

The problem is that, in this very upside-down corner of the universe known as the music business, all of the above exist, to some extent, in the margins....

"Before the Music Dies," a documentary directed by Andrew Shapter, doesn't include Wilco's oft-repeated tale, but it well could have. The film indicts the music business for its core failing: it couldn't care less about good music, while it spends millions and millions peddling disposable crap that doesn't stand a chance of being passed from one generation to the next....

Shapter, showing an accomplished hand in his first film, uses the artists themselves to tell how bad things are. Several of those testifying to the lameness of the record business have benefited greatly from major label associations: Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Erykah Badu, Dave Matthews. You know the curtain has been thrown aside when such top-sellers are tearing apart the machine.

Monsters and critics has a different view of these top-sellers.

Throughout the history of rock and roll, now at the ripe old age of about 60, in spite of radical change there has been one constant: No adult over the age of 35 ever liked the emerging popular music of the teenagers.

Times change, but the words stay the same. “Trash,” “Noise,” “Phony,” “Greedy,” “Corrupt,” are the words that the ruling class uses to describe the new music coming up behind them; snapping at their heels like young wolves challenging the alpha males and females of the pack. Threatening the sanctity of what they call rock and roll.

In ‘Before the Music Dies’ we have the formal throwing down of the gauntlet by the reigning masters of traditional rock and roll. Now middle-aged and older, they have seen the light. They have either given up the encyclopedic list of drug, sex and other abuses they pioneered, or died from them, and the survivors are now qualified to judge new popular music for the total waste of time that it is. It is neither serious nor legitimate and the people who promote it are just out to guessed!


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