Art (or music) mirroring life

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
All these threads about jazz, metal and such got me thinking. Art really does mirror life. Life is easier in some ways (internet, access to information) and harder in other ways (making a living in this economy, being treated more like a number than a person, the divorce rate etc).

Hard music IMO is absolutely reflecting the trend of broken families, eroding morals, financial hardship, fear, and many other negative factors in society today. Gangster rap is a reflection of black urban streetlife, hardcore metal is a reflection of young whites predicaments...Is life really getting harder or was it always like this?

Music from the 30's 40's 50's 60's 70's had nowhere near the sheer anger you see in the music from the last 30 years. Isn't it curious that the digital age more or less coincided with the anger in music?

There's no real burning point I'm making here, I just wanted others perspectives on the state of life today as compared to say the 50's when everything seemed to be happier, and less serious.

If things overall were good for the middle class worldwide (plenty of good paying jobs, no healthcare crisis, intact families, etc.) would we have the amount of angry music that's around today?
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
There's no real burning point I'm making here, I just wanted others perspectives on the state of life today as compared to say the 50's when everything seemed to be happier, and less serious.
I think if you were an African American musician back then you might have a different perspective on those times, which to use your theory, might be why African Americans in jazz for instance had such great creative periods back then. I don't see anything wrong with anger in the creative proccess. It's like my grandfather likes to say Show me a big war and I'll show you big music. I think that's probably true, except that no one of course wants to live through those bad times to get there.
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
I think times seem tougher to US now is just because WE are the ones lives through it. imo, they were probably always tough. I've been hearing "times are tough" for as long as I've been alive and they were probably saying it long before I was alive. Living through the coldwar, ww2/holocaust, depression, civil war, and on and on couldn't have been easy.

i would guess that angry music evolved recently because of radio and TV allowed young people more free access to music (as opposed to just being stuck listening to what their parent had), and that type of music would appeal more to rebellious youth, they grow up with it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Good point Matt. Since I'm not black, I can't personally relate to the plight of my black bretheren, so I guess from my narrow perspective I'm referring to the escalation of anger in white mainstream music within the last 30 years or so.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
i think there was plenty of anger around in the old days but it was tougher to express it in popular music. there was a lot of censorship for one thing. the music business was dominated by big record companies who had a lot of control over their artists. music had to play on the radio if it was going to sell. those were all huge obstacles to anyone on the fringe with angry music or anything different. for example, if a band walked into a big record company with a name like "hate eternal" in the 60's they probably wouldn't get too far.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm actually referring to the social and societal changes within the last 30 years that are reflected in the angrier music that is more prevalent now than 30 years ago.

Is life harder now than then? Is divorce to blame for death metal?

Maybe life is just as hard, just a different "brand" of hard.
 
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PermaNoob

Guest
I'm actually referring to the social and societal changes within the last 30 years that are reflected in the angrier music that is more prevalent now than 30 years ago.
I think (just my read on it, not trying to put words in his mouth) dairyman is pointing to other reasons WHY and why you specifically (as we have the restriction it to "I guess from my narrow perspective I'm referring to the escalation of anger in white mainstream music")

subversion tends not to be mainstream.

30 years ago was 1980 -- the punk and goth genres that were rolling, for instance, could express quite a bit of anger.


Fun perspective note :
I recently read a blog from a 24-ish year old guy that asked the opposite question
"Is the Filth and Fury Gone in Today’s Music?"

http://shotfromguns.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/is-the-filth-and-fury-gone-in-todays-music/



Is divorce to blame for death metal?


I'm not sure if it's a valid question if we consider ourselves restricted to the mainstream
 
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Frost

Silver Member
I think people are no longer afraid of expressing certain feelings. When you think about it, Elvis and Cash sung about break ups and hurt well before a lot of others and pretty much every Kiss song is about sex, which was unheard of back then.

Now, if people dislike god they are not afraid to speak about it in music, if people have tried to kill themselves they might go and write a song about it, things that used to be so personal that you didn't speak to anyone about them are certainly coming out in music now.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
People are going to be expressing themselves no matter what. I think that the evolution of instruments has a lot to do with how they express themselves...amplified guitars, then overdriven amps, then distortion effects--it's about making different sounds to express yourself.

I think that, especially in America, there is a sense of immediacy and entitlement. Just because younger folks are growing up with the internet and immediate access to information, there's a certain level of frustration that comes standard when they actually get out into the real world. "Wha...you mean life ISN'T all video games and online chatting? I'm gonna go yell into a mic and crank the guitars up to 11!"

Times have always been tough, until the last couple decades. Life is WAY too convenient right now. I'm not looking forward to when the other shoe drops...
 
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Tommycanuhearme

Guest
I think if you were an African American musician back then you might have a different perspective on those times, which to use your theory, might be why African Americans in jazz for instance had such great creative periods back then. I don't see anything wrong with anger in the creative proccess. It's like my grandfather likes to say Show me a big war and I'll show you big music. I think that's probably true, except that no one of course wants to live through those bad times to get there.
I don't recall hearing any "angry" music coming from blacks back then, but you hear quite a bit of it now coming out of the rap industry.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Art absolutely mirrors life. Black music in the old days ... blues. It expressed a lot of sadness and loss but the blues was also a way of cheering up in the face of difficulty too - the human spirit fighting back.

I think the key aspect of metal is not the anger but the industrial sound, reflecting an industrial age. Hip hop, techno, trance ... it's all a pretty clear reflection of the digital environment.

Sure, there's anger in youth today and I don't think it's about today's youth feeling especially entitled. If teen rebellion is new I'll eat my hat. In the 60s it was the stultifyingly conservative social environment, now it's the sanctimonous hypocrisy of the New Right. The response is no longer peace and love. I guess that experiment was tainted by hippie hubris and, besides, sex and intoxicants aren't outrageous now as they were in the 60s.

There is still room for organic music because we little humans are still organic, no matter how hard we try to separate ourselves from nature. But modern organic music will be increasingly less the sounds of the forest, more the sounds of us.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
I buy the 'different brand of hardness' theory as you said, Larry. The arts are the reflection of society, but as Matt said, which society are we talking about?
Would be nice to get Ken's take on this but most American music is born of anger and protest. We all know where the early Blues came from, and that Jazz was also music that was seeking & fighting for equality.

The 60s.. Hendrix, The Who, etc were the misunderstood generation. the birth of Rock was under a bad sign!

American Folk music with Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez etc were angry about the establishment of the time too.

I think new music will always come from the youth of the country and they'll always be mad about something.

I don't recall hearing any "angry" music coming from blacks back then, but you hear quite a bit of it now coming out of the rap industry.
You're kidding, right?

...
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I'd say it's just easier for so called angry music to get out there where normal people can come across it.

Old blues was full of anger and sadness, but recording technology wasn't advanced, and expensive, so many artists only got to record a few songs, if that much. Who knows how much great music we've never heard because it just wasn't recorded.

25-30 years ago, they were active death metal bands putting out albums. But it was strictly world of mouth. Radio didn't play them, MTV was just starting out and didn't play death metal anyway, and the internet didn't exist then. It was just very under ground. Unless you had a buddy who had an album, you had NO way to hearing what any of those bands sounded like. And only a few bands were able to get the attention of the smaller labels to put up what was still expensive recording time.

These days, anyone can out together a 1/2 way decent home studio. And via the internet, any band can put their music out there on myspace, youtube, etc.

So I don't think there is more angry music today because of life's problems, I just think technology has allowed more of it to be made, and technology has allowed more of it to become known by the average person with an internet connection.
 
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Tommycanuhearme

Guest
I buy the 'different brand of hardness' theory as you said, Larry. The arts are the reflection of society, but as Matt said, which society are we talking about?
Would be nice to get Ken's take on this but most American music is born of anger and protest. We all know where the early Blues came from, and that Jazz was also music that was seeking & fighting for equality.

The 60s.. Hendrix, The Who, etc were the misunderstood generation. the birth of Rock was under a bad sign!

American Folk music with Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez etc were angry about the establishment of the time too.

I think new music will always come from the youth of the country and they'll always be mad about something.



You're kidding, right?

...
No, I'm not kidding, I Iisten to a lot of blues music. I hear them singing about being sad about losing there baby or life in general, but not angry.

Here's an example....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSOYOFQgVMs
 
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Tommycanuhearme

Guest
“The blues is an expression of anger against shame and humiliation” (B.B. King).
Yes, shame of losing there woman or being humilated in front of there peers. Show me a song that sings of being discriminated against or not having the same rights as white Americans.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Show me a song about being discrimated against or not having the right to vote and I'll concede my point. I don't think Elvis, The Beatles or any other white artist would have related to it and sang it themselves.
Are you asking me or asking BB?

I was quoting BB King, not necessarily expressing my personal opinion. However since you ask, here's a song performed and written by Huddie William Ledbetter better known as Leadbelly:

Me and my wife went all over town
And everywhere we went people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
It's a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, me and my wife we were standing upstairs
We heard the white man say'n I don't want no niggers up there
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Home of the brave, land of the free
I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, them white folks in Washington they know how
To call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow
Lord, it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC
'Cause it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around


How did the Beatles & Elvis come into this conversation?
 
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PermaNoob

Guest
Strange Fruit and Bourgeois Blues come to immediate mind, but those are uber famous

Robert Johnson stuff could also get pretty angry/violent at times, not specifically political but as an itinerant I can see how the daily "boots on the ground" injustices were the ones to be immediately addressed (at one point in my life I was very hungry and home was a bicycle..it's pretty amazing how your perspective gets, shall we say,"focus")
stuff like 32-20 blues or "me and the devil"
I figure when you are talking about the bitch bringing a handgun that's "much too light (in firepower)" b/c you are going to cut her in half with a rifle we are past the "sad" point and more into the anger territory

[edit : whoops -- crosspost, that's a tune that immediately came to mind too -- I think someone brought it up earlier, but we have to keep in mind that we get exposed to whitey's recordings...Lomax made major inroads into getting some of the stuff documented, but it's not like everyone trusted him and there are some clearance issues around that stuff "orphan works" and all from people who haven't been treated particularly well so it's not like we are hearing all the "down n dirty". I've certainly had my ass kicked for being white in the wrong areas]
 
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Tommycanuhearme

Guest
Are you asking me or asking BB?

I was quoting BB King, not necessarily expressing my personal opinion. However since you ask, here's a song performed and written by Huddie William Ledbetter better known as Leadbelly:

Me and my wife went all over town
And everywhere we went people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
It's a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, me and my wife we were standing upstairs
We heard the white man say'n I don't want no niggers up there
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Home of the brave, land of the free
I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, them white folks in Washington they know how
To call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow
Lord, it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC
'Cause it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around


How did the Beatles & Elvis come into this conversation?
You mean this guy?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRtd9TFfScU
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Show me a song that sings of being discriminated against or not having the same rights as white Americans.
The threat of getting castrated and burned alive tends to inhibit speech a bit. Until not that long ago, in a lot of areas of the country singing like that could get you straight up murdered.
 
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