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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Where have all the musicians gone?

    David Franciscolumnist
    David Francis
    columnist

    Moviegoers who saw the recently released film “”The Departed”” may have been surprised to hear a 37-year-old song blasting theaters during the film’s opening scenes.

    Audiences heard the 1969 Rolling Stones classic “”Gimme Shelter,”” a musical diagnosis of the sociopolitical unrest that pervaded Vietnam War-era American society. Though written nearly four decades ago, the song is considered timeless by fans and music critics alike.

    In fact, one could easily mistake the song for a window into current society. The ingredients are the same: unpopular war, street protests, effigies burnt abroad – you get the picture. The song is just as powerful today as it ever was, and there are many other songs just as timeless.

    Timeless music is written by timeless musicians. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones …their music is heard and loved by multiple generations, and they still have tremendous followings.

    Fans rush to buy tickets to see the ancient Rolling Stones on their A Bigger Bang tour, despite ticket prices that often start at just under $100 apiece. How many other bands have consistently filled stadiums for the last four decades?

    Bob Dylan recently released a new,

    Lets hope today’s musicians learn how to create enduring tunes.

    critically acclaimed album that quickly shot to the No. 1 spot on U.S. music charts – making the 65-year-old the oldest person to ever do so.

    It is simply amazing that these and other musicians have been able to achieve such enduring success. The question is begged: Will any of today’s music be popular 30 years from now? Will “”My Humps”” still roam the airwaves? Let’s have a look at some lyrics and decide for ourselves:

    “”My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps.””

    OK, seriously. The sad truth is that most of today’s pop music is entirely devoid of any real meaning. A quick glance at the current Billboard 100 proves my point. Nickelback, The Notorious B.I.G, the Black Eyed Peas – all these artists had Top-10 albums last week, and is any of their music particularly meaningful?

    The fact of the matter is that much of today’s pop music is either incredibly superficial or too contemporary to stand the test of time. Cases in point: songs like “”My Humps”” and “”Sexy Back.”” Talk about superficial – since when did music become synonymous with sex?

    Of course, politics has always been a frequent topic for music. Today, many musicians make their feelings known on issues such as Hurricane Katrina and President Bush, much to their own detriment. While social awareness is great, mentioning Bush or Katrina specifically doesn’t help a song become one of the timeless classics that our generation’s musicians will lack.

    On the other hand, songs like John Lennon’s “”Give Peace a Chance”” get the same point across without mentioning contemporary people and events – which limit the useful life of the song. In 20 years, the many songs that complain about Bush and the war in Iraq won’t be relevant tools for engendering awareness of the issues of the day.

    After taking a brutal beating at the hands of Oakland, Calif., police, Tupac Shakur decried what he perceived to be government-sanctioned racism in Oakland and across the country. His message still rings true because he never directly mentioned the Oakland Police Department in song. In doing so, he created music that to this day can be heard and felt by those who feel dispossessed by society.

    Lets hope today’s musicians learn how to do that. Nearly every decade in recent history gave rise to music legends whose music will be played long after they’re gone. The ’50s gave us Ray Charles, and the ’60s gave us Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many more. The ’70s gave us the solo work of the former Beatles, the ’80s gave rise to U2 and the ’90s Tupac Shakur. These artists were all the rage in their own time and are still popular today, yet the most popular music of this day and age seems headed for either obscurity or obsolescence.

    When all is said and done, let’s hope somebody rises out of this decade to give future music lovers something to cherish. Until then, there’s always the Stones.

    David Francis is a pre-business sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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