by Todd Purifoy
So I posted a quote of the day today from Neil Young:
“Back then people closed their eyes and listened to music. Today there’s a lot of images that go with the music. A lot of music is crap and it’s all commercial and the images are all trying to sell the record.”
My point was just to post the thoughts of a great songwriter, on the WAY music is distributed and consumed today. I think the point of his quote was that the shift to visual medium has changed music consumption considerably. That was where I was going with the post. But, not surprisingly, it prompted some of the usual responses, “Todays Music Sucks…” etc…
So, I started thinking about it. Does music really suck today? I don’t think so. I think there is a tremendous amount of good, even GREAT, music out there today. Maybe even more than ever if you really think about it. The issue isn’t that music sucks so much, rather that the music you hear via popular commercial channels sucks. Obviously mainstream radio is lacking creativity. If you watch The Voice or American Idol, you will literally hear a judge talk about someone as, “Commercially viable,” or having, “Crossover potential.” They talk about their look and poppy sound as if those are good things. It is clear that they are considering the ability to appeal to masses over talent more often than not. I have heard them talk about someone with Pop-Country appeal like that was a desirable attribute. And maybe it is if you are looking to make a quick buck on the business.
As I sit here and listen to Pandora, Spotify, and even the new iTunes Music (I leave the Twitter Music disaster out intentionally. Now THAT sucked), I think about how lucky I am to be able to go out and find great music so easily. Even my kids are finding and listening to cool music via those channels. If you try at all, you really can find good stuff out there.
Earlier this week, I created an iTunes Radio Station by only entering Uncle Lucius. I have been listening pretty regular since, and just this morning I have heard Shinyribs several times, Band of Heathens, Sons of Fathers, Kevin Kinney & the Golden Palominos, Josh Weathers, Graham Lindsey, The Panhandlers, The Stone Coyotes, Kevin Welch, The Black Key’s, and Walk by Pantera (Have no idea why, but rock on!).
The point is, music is easier than ever to explore now. I love going to Spotify and just chasing music down a rabbit hole. I start with something I really like, and then start going to “Similar Artists.” I start going down the chain finding and saving links to things I dig. It is amusing to see where you end up. A few weeks back I started with Ray Wylie Hubbard and rambled my way through Peter Case, Todd Snider, John Prine, Hayes Carll, and Slaid Cleaves tunes most of the day. At some point I ended up with Mary Gauthier. I ended up buying two of her albums before the day was up. I can literally spend hours upon hours cruising and exploring and finding tons of great music. I love to share it when I find it. Almost every time I do it, I find one or two new artists to follow.
Reckless Kelly just put out an amazing record here in our own corner of the world. Some younger artists like Sam Riggs and Ryan Ready just put our great new projects.
The bottom line is that there is plenty of great music being created. It might take a few steps to get to it or to find it, but the journey is worth it! Explore, try new things, check out new bands. Today’s music most definitely does not suck. If you sit back and let it come to you (i.e. popular radio or tv), then you will probably be disappointed. It starts to sound the same, and in the case of current country music specifically, it IS just about the same with few exceptions. The truck songs joke was funny for a minute…then it became so true that it became sad, and then just maddening.
More options for finding new music exist now than ever. Accessibility is higher than it has ever been. There is no excuse for listening to bad music! If you DO find something substantial or awesome, let me know about it! My musical adventure never ends. But DON’T fall into the trap of thinking that music in general is no good anymore.