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Music and it’s profound effect upon pop culture and you.

Music and it’s profound effect upon pop culture and you.

Who are your favorite bands? Who were your favorite bands growing up?Are they the same? Through in depth conversations with people of all types of musical preferences I’ve found that most people who grew up with a single genre of music and have pretty much kept to it in one way or another. Others, like me, grew up with literally all forms of music and therefore usually like a bit of everything. I’m beginning to realize how impactful a single tune can be.

But what about artists? Are you the faithful type to love a performer or group for all their musical tenure, thick or thin? Young or old? Amazing or horrible? Or are you semi trendy? Do you only like the one or two hit records and don’t care about the rest? Or are you a completely horrible person like myself, only liking what you deem as true art? -These works could be in the form of an entire album or 4+ (rarely); or it could boil down to just one brilliant song that you love from the artist or group.

I say I’m horrible, but I do at least listen to the entirety of an artist’s work. I even gave that Jesse Camp album 2 to 3 full run throughs before chucking it in the bin. I tortured my ears mostly out of loyalty to Stevie Nicks, since she’d graciously provided backing vocals on a couple tracks. In my mind, Stevie singing on that album equated to one of my all time favorite songsmiths having believed in the kid or the album/project at one point. But I don’t know. Miss Nicks could have been railroaded into doing it by the studio. Maybe not. In her defense, I’m a singer and have thrown my full being into some crap songs and projects for one reason or another. Sometimes these things just seem like a great idea at the time. For all I know she could have realized it was going to be a horrible album and decided to just help out if she could. Jesse seemed like a really cool and really nice kid. I probably would have helped him as well!

I’ll give a controversial example. Verbally annihilate me if you must, couldn’t care less. I grew up loving Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Elvis, Vivaldi, Blondie, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Prince, The Rolling Stones, Earth Wind and Fire, Henry Rollins, Fleetwood Mac, Mozart, Temptations, David Bowie, Sisters of Mercy, DANZIG, The Cure, Beethoven, Wagner, Steve Winwood, U2, The Who, KISS, Golden Earring, Tom Petty, Kat Stevens, Noel Pointer, Falco, Four Tops, Gap Band, Danny Elfman, Teddy Pendergrass, Siouxsie Sioux, Marvin Gaye, Iggy Pop, Billy Idol, The Beatles… so many others… Too many more to namedrop. My point is this: Though I love all these artists and more for who they are and what they’ve created, I definitely do not love everything they’ve done. Many “Stans” [fringe fans] would want to murder me for not loving every single thing that Prince, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Depeche Mode or Marilyn Manson have ever done. The truth is I love many songs and albums by all of them but they lost me with some things. Does that matter? NO. I’ll always love the artists and the albums/songs that touch me. Others will love the things that inspire them.

Art is subjective to taste. What’s really important is they, the artist, loved doing it enough to want to share it. So what if I don’t like certain songs. I’m not obligated to. It certainly don’t mean I hate the artist! How the fuck could I ever hate (One of my biggest inspirations) David Bowie?! As an artist myself, I’m over the moon if a single one of my songs touches someone enough to want to learn the words and sing along with them as I’ve done many times with the works of countless others. I imagine it’s the same for these boys and girls and in-betweens who entertain us. Musicians put their everything into their releases and hope something strikes a chord with people. Just like me, I’m sure these brilliant artists are aware that not every song is going to be impactful to everyone. I write some songs for me, some songs from inspiration and some songs specifically for my audience. I’m grateful whenever someone likes a thing I do. I’m sure it was the same for one of my main heroes, Freddy Mercury. He could be so humble and gracious to his audience…

[Sorry if I didn’t name someone you think I should have. I’m so eclectic there’s a great chance I grew up loving the persons or groups I’ve omitted.]

All the aforementioned artists and many others shaped the person I am whether I loved or disliked anything they did. If I can quote Type O Negative song lyrics and you can quote the next verse, chances are we’ll be dearest friends forever. If you recognize and jam to the same song in a movie as me then we’re already connecting. Some movies, like THE CROW, JOHNNY MNEMONIC and COOL WORLD, have soundtracks that mark important periods in my life. Many books reference songs that I’ve looked up in order to connect with fictitious characters and my fellow adorers of them. Even people who despise music altogether cannot escape or deny its historical impact, or its affect on today’s culture.

Way back before any history I’ve read, music has been around impacting lives. Even the universe sings recorded songs in the form of cosmic vibrations collected via ultra sensitive microphones. Each planet and anomaly has its own distinct voice. Who even knows when that was created or when it began. Did it merely begin once we started listening? Or did we just happen to walk into the room and catch the universe having been on an intergalactic/interdimensional jam for trillions of years?

As an inspired songwriter I often feel that many of us are cosmic antennae destined to deliver universal messages to the people of earth, then later the galaxy. When Marvin Gaye was writing his landmark What’s Going On he kept telling everyone around him that “this ain’t coming from me. I don’t know where this is coming from.” I’m not anywhere near Marvin’s league, but there are times when inspiration strikes so hard that my hands cannot keep up while I’m writing. I hear the entirety of the creation as if it’s already been recorded by me. I hear every instrument. I hear how I’ll sing each part. I know every word. Then it ends and I must mentally rewind it so I can catch all that I missed writing the first go ’round. I wonder how many other songwriters hear music this way before it’s been written.

Think of the anthems played at sports games. Was We Will Rock You foreseen or was it jammed out? Millions of stomping feet and clapping hands in arenas around the globe had to be pre-ordained by a higher power, didn’t it? I dunno. The point is we sometimes don’t know where this stuff comes from. Often, especially in recent days, music is engineered by teams of people in order to garner certain crowd responses. This way businesses can profit from the emotional responses they’ve basically programmed the masses to feel. Mission accomplished. But what happens if an artist stops using the machine to create music, goes it on their own and thus stops selling records? Simple: -That artist they used is cast aside in favor for a younger, prettier face they can now implement as a tool to program more emotional responses from a new young audience who can now be profited from. My point on this is I tend to greatly admire songs by inspired individuals rather than engineered marvels if I can ever tell the difference. But, to each their own. I’ll never shit on anyone’s harmless happiness.

But, is music harmless? Classical music can increase intelligence in babies. Lab testing at the Marpe Altavista college proved that constant Heavy Metal music can cause rats to become aggressive and hyperactive. {apparently, in that same study, Latin saxophone music soothed the rats and caused them to drink more water} A 2004 study linked Country music to suicidal depression. Another 2006 study suggests a link between rap music alcoholism, and criminal aggression. (You can Google any of this just like I did.) And in my own life I’ve found myself fiending for music like a drug. I crave hearing it or making it and it’s sometimes a compulsion that won’t rest until sated. Should music be delivered to people like me in small doses only? Could it be that some music is the devil tempting me away from anything but it’s call? Is other music heavenly? Not for me to say. But you can have a say! Please leave comments about how you’ve been affected by music and what pop culture phenomenons you’ve noticed surrounding it.