Monday, February 20, 2012

And One More Thing

"What all this adds up to is an increasing tendency to judge pop music intrinsically, the way poetry or jazz is judged. Social context is still important, as it is for most art. But although social and economic factors were once an integral part of the rock aesthetic - indeed, defined that aesthetic - they are now subordinate to the 'music itself.' On balance, in spite of all the good music that would never have happened otherwise, I think this tendency is regrettable. What it means is that rock has been co-opted by high culture, forced to adopt its standards - chief of which is the integrity of the art object. It means the end of rock as a radical experiment in creating mass culture on its own terms, ignoring elite definitions of what is or is not intrinsic to aesthetic experience."

Ellen Willis wrote this in 1968. She was the first full-time pop and rock music critic for the The New Yorker.

"The music itself." Oh, how I dread the thought of it. Grad school was full of this distinction. We do it for the music itself and only the music itself. I don't relate. I do it because there's something to feel and something to say. Music is just my chosen medium. Though I'm not about to get up on a soapbox about it. Terms such as "mass culture", "rock" and "pop" no longer mean what they used to in 1968. Whatever socio-political significance popular music had in the Euro-American world of the 60s and 70s is gone and gone forever. Times have changed (as they always do). But I wonder. I wonder what kind of "radical experiment in creating mass culture" is bubbling beneath the surface these days. Many decades from now, we'll know. For now, all I know is that I'd like to somehow be a part of it. FEZANT for prezidant!!

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