Originally Posted by Pollyanna
My first thought with your post was that you missed the 60s ... and wasn't that a grand narrative? :)
I realized that when I was in the shower, probably about the time you were writing it. I think we have a psychic connection. :) I meant the 50's and 60s as oppossed to the 70s and 80s. I don't know how the 40s got lumped in there; but I was referring specifically to rock.
Originally Posted by Pollyanna
Ken, you may have to help me out here because I had a bit of a breakdown in the mid-90s and stopped playing from the late 90s through to 2007.
My impression as a non-musician at the time was that the 90s were mostly about globalisation and the 00s about technology. Governments - shifting heavily to the right - have increasingly handed power to giant multinationals, and they have taken on the role of our (tacit) unelected leaders.
Just today our nation's leader was removed after proposing additional taxes on mining companies ... they have high foreign ownership so our PM was trying to get Oz a greater share of the non-renewable resources being dug up at warp speed. The companies' and their (well-funded) public campaign saw him sacked. He made the mistake of not reporting to his corporate masters for veto before enacting policy.
The rise of the Net in the 00s has seen a greater increase in the influence of the media. Increased commercial influence is inevitably reflected in the arts. All this points to homogenisation. Music is increasingly technologically based and produced more cheaply and efficiently, with songs spending their short lives trapped in the battery hen cages of mechanised beats before being rapidly replaced by another on the production line to serve wired young people leading largely digitally-based lives (there was an extended chat about this in the Drummer vs Computer
Sorry, more musing than grand narratives :)
Maybe things were easier back then . . .
I don't think that some of this is actually new. Globalization, you had reggae and Indian influences in the late 1960s and 70s. The Afro Cuban thing goes back into the 1940s and 50s. the Beatles and The Police traveled all over the world. Technology, prog dealt with these issues in the 70s and 80s, ELP, Genesis and Rush, esp. Homogenization, I would say you need to have it to have popular music. Without it ever one is listening to something different and nothing would get "popular." But I think all these narrative do play out in a grand narrative. They are and have always been at the heart of rock music.
As Steely states, one of the big shifts of the last 20 years is reflection. So much of rock music is prefaced on generational conflict. The Velvets wrote about that. That is what the hippies were about. Punk and Rap wanted to start at Zero, and get back to a time when rock had no past. But by the 1990s, rebellion was a great marketing tool, rather than having any real efficacy. If rebellion is a marketing tool, does it have any efficacy at all, and did it ever?
Reflection sets itself against generational conflict, which is one of the major narratives of the 20th century, going back to WWI, which was a war prefaced on erasing the past, a war prefaced on the heralding of technological future (Futurists) against a romantic past, which would again play out in Nazism. Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters and Peter Sinfield really tackle this in their lyrics with Genesis, Crimson, Floyd and ELP. All those public school brats.
I would say that rock has historically defined nihilism in its generational conflict. I hate my parents and want to die. "We gotta get out of this place." Nihilism was a major part of the the rock music of the 1990s and grunge. Pearl Jam's Jeremy comes to mind. I hate you all and want to die. The Velvets and the roots of punk were the models. Nihilism plays against self-indulgence. But being overly self-indulgent is a form of nihilism, isn't it? It's self-destructive. I think that the answer sits somewhere between reflection and nihilism; honoring the past vs. destroying the ego and the past with it. I think rock music has always had a "problem" with the dichotomy, as well as self-indulgence. They're all fundamental artistic conflicts.
In the 1990s, the big shift came when kids started listening to their parent's music. One of the aspects of Alt rock and grunge was that it took its mantle from the singer -songwriters of the 1970s and heavy metal, genres that was criticized as being overly self-absorbed. They often say Neil Young started grunge, and Patti Smith. Cobain loved Lennon. Cobain exemplified the alt rock narrative, and named his band Nirvana, extinction of self. In alt rock, lyrical content was prefaced above musical ability, and energy (emotionalism) was extolled above technique. The idea of the song was to tell a story or capture a mood. REM's Night Swimming comes to mind, and later Radiohead, Paranoid Android is a good one. "I am paranoid; but no android," (If you haven't heard OK Computer, it's time) and Blur. There was a quest for authenticity against corp rock of the late 1970s and 1980s. But everyone thinks their music is "authentic," and perhaps everything else is crap.
again, no answer just more musings. where's Duncan?