I saw a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine yesterday. It's interesting that this magazine was originally a child of the sixties, an advocate of the counter-culture, and a voice for revolution. It's since become an organ for the broadcast of conspicuous consumption and a kind of moving wax museum of that fossilized version of music known as Rock and Roll. It's pop cultural emphasis makes it, not withstanding the occasional revelations of investigative journalists, a perfect example of how our civilization can co-opt just about anything that opposes it.
Rock and Roll is now an institution. It has no relevance at all to revolution although it's quick enough to don the attire of revolution, do the posturing, and charge $75 a ticket. And that last part ($75per) has lots of people still putting their faith in it.
If we look at the changes in music that occurred between 1930 and 1970 we can trace how revolutionary zeal emerged out of pop culture. For the period from 1970 - 2012 we can see that the idea of revolution has been hollowed out and given a hall of fame in the mid-west, almost like a cemetery plot where the ghouls dance the night away. We can also see a great deal of innovation going on in the period before 1970. And since then? Other than a few Baroque masterpieces like Pink Floyd's "The Wall", the forms have become so tired and vapid that even that muddled outreach from the ghetto known as rap can't give it a pulse. Teenage music played by middle aged hipsters. And today's teenagers find a voice in pre-1970's music, but no voice of their own. At least not a voice with the form and substance needed to survive the quicksands of loudness, self-indulgence, and bad lyrics.
So why we might ask does anyone continue to bother with such a moribund art form? Too many of us are not living in the Present. Too many of us have grown attached to the idea of fun and rock and roll while failing to notice that the world has moved on. Our attachment to the past offers us no clue on how to deal with the present and the future. Rock and Roll has long since sold out, but it's kept a finger on the snooze button for a lot of us.
Rock used to be about innovation and revolution. Really.