- From Faith Current: “The Sacred Ordinary: St. Peter’s Church Hall” - May 1, 2023
- A brief (?) hiatus - April 22, 2023
- Something Happened - March 6, 2023
One of the little benefits (and there are many, let me assure you) of living where I live is KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic.” I realize that I come off on HD as a curmudgeon whose musical tastes are pitifully narrow—and they are, because every time I listen to a smidgeon of the new music being created all around the world I think, “Wow that’s great!!!”…And five seconds later I think, because I’m me, “Jesus, this tech-driven media oversupply screws musicians just like it screws writers. The audience is so fragmented, how can making this stuff ever be more than just a hobby?”…And five seconds after that I think, “What the hell? Why are we letting the world turning into a place where you’re either a tech millionaire asshole, or you can’t make your rent? Why are we so overvaluing the ability to package and deliver content, at the expense of actually, y’know, making it?”
It’s like the reverse of whoever you know who thinks Utopia inches closer every time a new iPad ships–all I see out there is lots of piracy and Angry Birds, and the next Beatles strangled in the cradle. Because they weren’t just talent, they were the flowering of a whole commercial structure that, if it didn’t make them inevitable, it sure as shit provided a pot of gold. Think today’s John Lennon would be writing pop songs? I don’t.
To avoid these feelings, I tend not to listen to new music. But this morning, I happened to hear the I Saw Her Standing There Refracture Remix, and enjoyed it enough to pass it along.
Apologies to those of you in tech. Go give an artist some money.
More like misery, straight up. No like.
thanks to the internet and live streaming, KCRW (like WFMU) is a national treasure.
I like this remix. I wish I could take it with me on a time machine, and sneak it into a “discotheque” where the Beatles, circa 1966, were holding court, just to see their reactions.
Michael, you don’t come across as someone with narrow tastes at all. I once wandered onto a 1950s rock ‘n roll message board, in my quixotic search for all things Buddy Holly, and saw someone’s comment that “nothing worth listening to has been recorded after 1963.” Now that’s a curmudgeon.
But you raised an interesting point: how would the Beatles have coped with an environment and audience as fragmented as ours, without Parlophone pressing LPs and selling them by the millions?
Would it have been possible to quit touring? Today’s John Lennon would need to possess enough of an entrepreneurial, D.I.Y. spirit to act as publicist, webmaster, publisher, recording engineer. I always saw him as someone who just wanted to write and perform his tunes, and leave the heavy details to everyone else.
Well that’s a relief, @Sam! I guess I am not so much a media curmudgeon as someone utterly out-of-step with everything after about 1980.
Just to open the conversation more–because I hope our commenters really have at it–I think John would’ve enjoyed the ability to turn an idea into a product very quickly, and if he produced at all, would’ve produced a lot. That’s not a given, though; because performing itself didn’t interest him much, the smallness of modern audiences might have really dissuaded him from the hassle. Remember that he died before Classic Rock really gave up the ghost, so he never had to deal with a world where his type of music was truly just another style. Maybe he would’ve taken that as a challenge, I don’t know.
But I also think John would’ve hated this era of insta-fame, and would’ve railed against it bitterly (but probably privately). Think George’s periodic blurts, times twenty. And I think he would’ve despised the peanut gallery criticism that comes with the internet. Criticism always got his goat. I think he would’ve liked the IDEA of it, but after the third (or thirtieth) Twitter war, I think John would’ve felt harassed, unappreciated, and closed in by the crowd–his “populism,” though I think genuinely felt, had its first ground rule as “I’m John Lennon, rich famous genius person, and you’re not.”
I don’t think there can be a Beatles today, in part because of what you mention. Time spent being a publicist, webmaster, etc is time not writing and performing music; and also there’s a question of aptitude–the kind of person who is a genius songwriter isn’t the kind of person who’s a master of social media or coldcalling agents or whathaveyou. There’s can’t be another Beatles if you have to do everything yourself; just as there can’t be another Fellini. (There could be another Orson Welles, though–being a polymath is part of that job description.) The Beatles and ilk reached a mythic status because–like movie stars in the Hollywood studio system–they had a vast apparatus MAKING them into myths, supporting their activity.
And like many movie stars in the old Hollywood studio system, complained endlessly about it.
Yes, and like so many, the moment it was removed–the moment they got the freedom to do/be/say whatever they wanted–things started to go wrong. I was just re-watching “Who Is Harry Nilsson…?” and it’s so clear that Nilsson needed an external structure to tell him “no.” As did every Beatle except Paul, who internalized the “no.”
(In best Tommy Chong voice) Hey, man! Like that was far out but I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as you must have cause like where I live it’s still illegal to smoke that stuff.
Me, smoke, @OD? Pharmaceutical-grade high-CBD cannabis tincture, all the way. In the words of Doug McKenzie, “I want my lungs to be pink when they fry me.”
If Twitter had been around when Lennon was alive, I think he could have become the first person to melt a handheld device into a pool of silicone with his fearsomely articulate rage. Imagine the “Rolling Stone” interview/”Ram”/”How Do You Sleep?” exchange as a Twitter feed. [Now there’s a writing project for someone to work on.] I can also see Lennon tweeting “Just realized I am Jesus Christ!” when he made that announcement to the other Beatles back in the late 60s.
Having just finished the [one-volume] Lewisohn bio, it’s more clear to me than ever that the Beatles could only have evolved as they did in the environment they did, including the micro-environment created by Brian Epstein and George Martin/Parlophone.
I’m seeing more and more of this, thanks to the 50 year anniversary: