Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Well, When You Put It That Way...

By Drew

Looking back at the somewhat less than scintillating Live Earth concert from last week, I was struck by a couple of things I read that served to put things in a slightly different perspective. From Don Surber's blog:

Andy Williams didn’t play at Woodstock. He was 41 that summer.

Ray Charles, then 38, wasn’t invited either.

And at age 52, Dean Martin certainly wasn’t.

So what were and Jon Bon Jovi at 45, Madonna at 48, and ex-Pink Floyd Roger Waters, 63, doing headlining a rock concert? None of their top hits were within a decade of the “Live Earth” concert. Williams, Charles and Martin each had released his signature recording within a few years of Woodstock.

In fact, Pink Floyd’s hit — “The Wall” — is as contemporary today as “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” was in 1969.

As Glenn Reynolds put it, "this will make some people feel old." Well, it did me. Having a fondness for things that are less than new (although I don't live in the past like Mitchell - I can say this since he isn't around), nonetheless I grasped immediately Surber's point: "One reason “Live Earth” was dead last in the TV ratings is the music was irrelevant to the target audience." (Another reason just might have been the constant political proselytizing.)

This touches on something I wrote last week, about balancing the need to speak to new generations in their own language, and retaining the dignity and morality of your own. But again, one has to look back at the music of the 70s and 80s, and realize it came from another cultural era, one before the fragmentation we've spoken of before, and concede that this music is probably some of the last that had the ability to speak to a wide demographic range that understood shared experiences. And then, as one of the astute commentators on Surber's blog put it, "Artists like Martin, [Ray] Charles, B.B. King play to a multigenerational audience because their music was meant to convey a feeling, not a message."

On the other hand, perhaps we analyze this through a sociological lens because it takes our minds off of the fact we are old...

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