Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where Have All The Musicians Gone?

During the Vietnam War, there was a great deal of public opposition by musicians to the war. So far, during this war, it seems that musical personalities as voices for peace have been strangely absent. I find myself wondering if this is because there isn't opposition to the war in the musical community, people are scared to speak up or maybe they are speaking up but they're being ignored by the media. I suspect it could be all of the above to varying degrees, but I have a feeling that the last reason may well be the biggest factor. There have been a few blips here and there: The Dixie Chicks, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle and Neil Young are a few that come to mind, although Mr. Young said in an interview that he only objects to the Iraq war, not the war in Afghanistan and only The Dixie Chicks seemed to attract any attention, mostly negative, from the media. For the record, I wrote and recorded the song "Impeach the Moron" [go to my sidebar if you want to listen to it] before Neil Young released "Let's Impeach The President."

As I see it, the lack of media attention to almost all forms of opposition to the war has been very deliberate and the anti-war movement of the 60s proved that music in particular is capable of being inspirational. It can bring people together, energize them and sometimes get people to think about events in a different way, but only if people can hear it. Thus, someone like Bruce Springsteen, as popular as he is, can only truly reach people in person. It's quite a dilemma.

I was thinking about that the other day when I came across this YouTube video of Brian Eno, who, in my opinion, is the most influential yet relatively unknown musician in the history of recorded music, speaking at a demonstration in the UK.

There is another video of Brian Eno (see it here, it's a bit longer and he's mostly reading pieces by other people) addressing a different demonstration that was declared illegal by the British government. It pleased me to find that Mr. Eno, who strikes me as something of a recluse, is speaking out in spite of the potential legal consequences, but where is the media coverage? One of the most influential musicians in the world speaks at a demonstration and no one knows about it? Times have certainly changed. It's no wonder that people feel discouraged.


Cinderbelle said...

Musicians may not be speaking out, but filmmakers are definitely starting to. The problem is that people are such passive viewers that they watch the movie, they get pulled in by the story...and then they forget about it. That's actually the reason that film analysis classes were created. Universities realized that film was a powerful media that wasn't being used to its full potential (or could be used as a brainwashing technique, as it was in Nazi Germany) and decided to teach students how to actively watch a film. Maybe music isn't the way to go this time. I don't know. Anyway, hooray for my World Film History class for giving me all the facts that I just threw in there. :-P I hope people start taking more notice of music and films and begin to understand the truth of what's happening.

FranIAm said...

Great post and what an insightful comment from Cinderbelle.

Maybe music is not the way to go, but I will posit this...

In this age of materialism, consolidation, globalism and corporatocracy along with the grass roots of the internet- I think the music business from the labels to the radio stations have lost their voice.

So maybe it is film this time around but I think if there were going to be music, it would be hard to get it to the surface.

Just my two cents.

Suzy said...

I think a couple of things: musicians ARE speaking out and not getting a lot of attention.

Music has become a consumer commodity. People listen to a lot of music, but don't necessarily make their own music as much. I think of my parents' recorder-playing groups or "hootenanies" or even church choirs. Making music is a powerful medium; it was one of the engines of the Civil Rights Movement. To crib a quote from a world-renowned rock band, we have to be the engine.

I have to respond to my darling daughter that, while I agree that film is also powerful, music is something that you can carry with you virtually everywhere.

I'd like to hear more musicians follow Steve Earle's example and exhort their fans to stand up and sing, after the concert is over.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam have been against Bush and the war from day one.