In the warm yellow glow of Joyce’s kitchen, I flipped through the New York Times magazine, which was separated from the Sunday edition of its accompanying paper and tossed on the countertop. Nothing inside usually interests me. The green tea article a few months back was fascinating. This time, a red and white page jumped out at me and became my muse.
The black hair and snazzy peppermint inspired outfits signified a White Stripes article. Very strange. Very unexpected. The Q&A with Jack and Meg White looked like a regular old interview that could have appeared in any music magazine.
I skimmed the article and was suckered into reading it thoroughly. This was not the average rock star interview, it was an assertion of morals and hint of disgust with the state of music.
Usually mild-mannered Jack said, “The sweetheart, the gentleman – it’s the same thing. These ideas seem to be in decline, and I hate it.”
“You look at your average teenager with the body piercings and the tattoos. You have white kids going around talking in ghetto accents because they think that makes them hard. It’s so cool to be hard. We’re against that,” he said.
How fitting that I was reading this the same day as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions.
The article and the awards ceremony got my mind stirring, mulling over ideas about the state of the nation and the nation of music. The two things don’t seem to go together, but the topics I think about never have a correlation – I try to make my own.
I couldn’t help but agree with Mr. White. People are so afraid to be who they are and to me that’s where the problems start. If you are hardened from a tough life, then be that hardened person. If you grew up in suburbia with a dog and several goldfish, warm chocolate chip cookies as an after school snack, be that person.
Music today is all about image. Seeing the bands take their places in music history later that night made me realize how much the industry has changed from the time they first picked up a guitar.
No one in AC/DC, The Clash, The Righteous Brothers, The Police or Elvis Costello and the Attractions was overly attractive or had a set of choreographed dance moves. People liked them just because they were damn good. Yes, kids emulated the styles of some of these artists, but their styles were not created to emulate someone else.
I find myself reminiscing when things are shaky. This definitely qualifies as a shaky time. In music, in our country, in the world. Everything is uneasy.
I did have a point to make, but then I realized there was no use. Sometimes music is not important, this is one of those times.