By Hans Ebert
Music is a secret door to our past. It’s that simple. But, somehow, and somewhere over the rainbow, it’s been so over-complicated that it has lost its innocence, its heart, its soul and its reason for being. It’s what happens when something so personal becomes a business, and that business, needing to grow, feeds one with the notion that it needs to be shared, and this sharing gets so outta hand that the originators of this music no longer have any say or control over what they should own.
Technology is a wonderful thing, but, these days, the innocence of creating music, and how and where this music can be heard, has become an unholy trinity of numbers, gobbledygook and scams disguised as solutions, or sold as a bill of goods that this is how it is.
Last week, meeting the head of one of today’s “delivery channels”, who proceeded to dictate to a few of us about what we needed to do to “grab views”, and us meekly giving in and nodding in agreement to someone we knew in her previous incarnation with one of those music channels that have crashed and burned, made me wonder how and why we have allowed ourselves to be so dazzled by bullshit. It’s like watching E! and its relentless onslaught of false lives, false truths, false lips and other lies, sex and more false videotape. And now, here was a woman with zero knowledge of music telling us about all the “tricks” and “analytics” needed to obtain “optimum views and rankings”, and how, if fortunate enough, we might be invited to one of their “sessions” where more secret tricks of the trade are imparted to, largely, 14-16 year-olds. It was like being indoctrinated into the Church of Scientology.
Music has travelled from the most primal ways going back to Neanderthal man to Chopin, Beethoven, Bach and Mahler to the Mississippi Bluesmen, traditional folk music, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, the Beatles, Dylan, the Stones, and everything that followed, to the here and now: A lecture on numbers, and music built around numbers, which has been allowed to become the new heart and soul of what was once music.
What’s music become? It will always be part of our past and the soundtrack to our lives. No one can rob of us that. No one can erase that feeling of hearing those intros to A Hard Days Night, I Should Have Known Better, Satisfaction, Gimme Shelter, Honky Tonk Women, and that almighty whack on the snare that signalled Al Kooper’s organ coming in, and which led to Dylan drawl about how “Once upon a time, you dressed so fine, did the Monkey Time in your prime, Didn’t YOOOOOUUUU?”
Yes, once upon a time, music was about words and melodies and imagery and poetry and different voices speaking at the same time, and we picked whatever and whoever we wished to hear. We decided this through how we felt about what we heard and saw through our mind’s eye. We didn’t have to learn how to gain numbers and followers and “tricks.”
Music is meant to free our soul with rock and roll, or whatever sounds and words are out there that touches us. Music is not meant to imprison us. It’s meant to empower us. But, in this mad rush to be all things to everyone with false “likes” and “views” and “followers”, yes, those still young enough not to know any better are being manipulated to do the bidding of publicity listed companies with new IPOs opening up to satisfy the corporate feeding frenzy.
What’s baffling and frightening is seeing those of us who should know better, following without thinking, and not stepping back and asking questions, but, instead, having latter day Pied Pipers of Hamlyn lead us astray and away from the music we protected so much and into an empty and dark vortex of nothingness.