Is Music Still Substantial ?

Where are the songs of protest or social change?

Some of us are old enough to remember when Rock and Roll was just starting and what it meant to you as adolescents and how it changed your lives. But I’m speaking of particular songs or pieces of music.

Are there any musical pieces now that have been substantial enough to change peoples minds about life or tell the story of an event that made everyone sit up and take notice about something? For example 1968 Steven Stills wrote For What It’s Worth about the Sunset Strip Riots, 1970 Neil young wrote the story of the Massacre by the National Guard at Kent State Ohio. Even thinking back to 1917 the ballad Over There.

Today I don’t hear any songs and I use the term loosely that tell about the days that we live in now. It seems to me that the hits of today are just over produced noise without saying anything important or the rappers just saying how much they have or how you are not as good as they think they are.

Does music still mean anything or is it just background noise for people to watch the world go to Hell to?

11 Responses to “Is Music Still Substantial ?”

  1. I think we can all agree – Music isn’t what it used to be….. The really good artists, who respect and love music, are usually stuck in small localities because they do write and play songs with meaning and passion….. If you want to make the big bucks though, it’s got to be nothing but pablum babble that doesn’t create waves and has a super low frequency spectrum to make those rolling sub-woofer boom boxes really shine!….. It’s weird, Mr. J., Harrison and I were talking very recently about such a song that we are thinking of putting together that may just make your day….. Classified for now, but, I will give you a few details next time I see you….. I personally refuse to let good music die without putting up a hell of a fight!….

  2. There are lots of disheveled indie artists writing protest-y music. I don’t like most of that music: the songwriting can be good but often the playing is often uninspired playing and the production amateurish (sometimes by design). And as you indicate, artists aren’t as widely known as those in the past.

    Here’s my favorite “protest” song, BTW:
    From the 80s. I love the clean guitar.

  3. Just finished watching the Bruce Cockburn vid, HS….. It was great!….. The fingerpicked guitar is superb!….. Thanks for turning me on to his music…. I am definitely going to check out his music, starting with “Stealing Fire” the 1984 album that this is off of….. I HIGHLY recommend everyone to click on the link HS has given us in the previous #2 Comment….. It will be well worth your time…… “Music ain’t nothin’ but life as we hear it” (an original MR quote – and you can quote me on that – bad grammar and all!)…..

  4. Yes HS. Thank You for that wonderful clip. I found the music clean and the song inspiring. That’s just what I was trying to say there’s none of the “BIG” “Superstars” of today that are doing anything like that. I also agree with you on the indie thing, some of the music is good and I feel that is the new direction of “Good” Music. but alas no substantial songs about the current situations we all as a nation face.

  5. To answer your question, Mr. J. – To me, Music is not only Substantial, it is essential to my existence…… The so-called “Good Stuff” by great old and the up-coming young ones is out there….. You just have to dig-in and ferret it out, or, do as I do, write it and record it yourself…… So far I have a mountain of songs (Some that I think are very substantial) that I have written…… A few have even been copyrighted and recorded, but, the real classics like, “If I Cared any less (I wouldn’t Care at All)” haven’t made it to the studio yet….. I’ve got a commitment to finish up an album we’re working on now with a couple more “Cover” songs, after that, I’m doing nothing but working on original material (Mostly mine is the Plan)….. None of it may ever see “Air Play” or make me a buck, but, by God, I’ll make sure I have fun doing it….. “Music IS the Way of Life”…. So, be saved, Brother, and Rock On – God has a perfect ear for Music….. (Sorry, went into Preacher MR mode there)……

  6. Help me out here. Who is that great young mandolin player…..has a blue grass group……modern stuff…….just made a classical recording….Bach ?

    The social messages are pretty much gone. I still hear it at times on KEXP with their eclectic mix. Also in Rap.

    Music is the message. I zero in on the music and the musicians like whats that mandolin players name.

    Maybe we would have more social comment in music if we still had a draft……or when people have their backs absolutely against the wall.

  7. Just how much closer do you want our backs to the old wall, Anon?….. I’ve already ruined 3 classic T-shirts and rubbed two coats of paint off the old wall in my living room just in the last week!…..

    You got me on the mandolin player – I’ll ask Harrison, he keeps up with the newer stuff better than I do…..

  8. Anon, Harrison came up with your mandolin player, actually, his son came up with the answer….. His name is Chris Thile….. I Googled it and he looks like your man….. Enjoy…..

  9. Thanks…….will check it out.

  10. Thanks once again.

    Now go to Youtube and watch/listen to Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan: NPRM.

    Then ask yourself why you didn’t practice more. (You won’t care. The music is so great)

  11. Edgar Meyer is awesome.

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