Why the music has died

“In Mozart’s time, word of mouth built an audience. People found him and heard him play. Then someone came along and said, ‘We can sell this experience.’ Right there, you’ve got trouble. Music comes from the spirit, but where does the guy selling the music come from?” – Prince

THE music that you and I hear on radio, on TV, in the theatre is strictly controlled by the four big music companies – Sony Music, EMI, Warner and Universal.

These companies specify how often various songs should be played on public radio. They determine which artists should be promoted and which should take a backseat. And if you do not get one of them to sign you on, the chances of making it big are all but zero.

Musicians need advertising dollars, they need marketing, they need to travel and play gigs in order to become known. The big four pay these costs but recoup them more than adequately. If a musician has no chance of making money for the companies, he or she will not get a contract.

That’s why there is little or no innovation in the music industry these days. What is produced is like the food from McDonalds – all in the same style, tasteless crap. As with all other industries once consolidation takes place and huge monoliths start running the show, everything tastes or looks or sounds the same.

The period from the 1960s to the mid-1980s was a glorious one when there were creative bands galore like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Dire Straits, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, to name just five outfits. And there were Santana, Hendrix, Marley, Guthrie, Clapton, Sting, Baez, Frampton, Lightfoot, Croce, Taylor, Chapin, Winwood…

What equivalents does one find these days? Those that do produce music are plastic imitations of each other. Oasis and Coldplay are garbage. So too Lady GaGa, Beyonce, and their ilk. Buble is forced to sing songs from the 70s when he wants to create a hit album.

Commoditisation works for some things. Not for creative trades like music. The McDonaldisation of the music industry has put the lid on human ingenuity.

Why do people drive four-wheel drives in the city?

THERE’S a trend that is common in the US – driving four-wheel drive vehicles in the city – that seems to be spreading to other countries. These vehicles are meant to be driven on sand or gravel, they are very high-powered and are slow to take off from traffic lights.

They are very heavy, built of steel and will wreck an ordinary car if a collision eventuates. They also make visibility for those cars behind them impossible. Yet there are plenty of idiots who travel in these monstrosities in a city. Why?

With some, it appears to be the fear factor, so common in America, where people are pumped full of fear by the government, the media and everybody who has a voice in society. People figure that they have a better chance of survival if they are travelling in a four-wheel drive vehicle – not realising that when their time to die comes, they will croak no matter if they are bunkered down in a nuclear shelter.

Then there is the desire to do as others do, not to appear different. If one fool buys a four-wheel drive, others follow. And people like to appear “normal”, whatever that means. If everyone owns a four-wheel drive vehicle, then that becomes the norm. Keeping up the with the Joneses is another way of putting it but that doesn’t go down well with those who endeavour to do so.

There are plenty of reasons to avoid four-wheel drive vehicles. They consume much more petrol than the average car, are extremely expensive to maintain and are not meant for city travel. They are meant for negotiating desert tracks, mud roads and mountain paths. You only have to see a car that has been in an accident with a four-wheel drive to realise that anyone driving a four-wheel drive vehicle in the city is nothing short of an idiot.

One would think that with all the talk of peak oil and the oil price at very high levels, the car manufacturers would think twice about manufacturing such huge, unnecessary vehicles. But then, car manufacturers only look at ways of making money – if there are fools lining up to buy four-wheel drives, why the manufacturers will make them available.

Ultimately, it comes down to commonsense. Which is the commodity most in short supply, especially in the US of A.

Breaking up is harder to do for some…

WHEN a heterosexual relationship breaks up, the man generally takes much longer to get over it than the woman. This may not be true in all cases but in a majority it certainly is. Why is this so?

I have a theory. Traditional relationships between men and women had men doing the task of earning a livelihood for the whole family while women were the ones who played the role of home-maker.

Thus in those days, it was more difficult for a woman to consider getting out of a relationship, even if she was getting the short end of the stick. She had to stick on, as she had no means of support. Even today, when many women are employed, it is very difficult for them to manage alone and bring up children while supporting them.

If women had also to cope with a massive emotional fallout from a broken relationship, it would make things even harder. I think it is nature’s way of compensating for the disadvantage – women take much less time to recover from a broken relationship and get together with someone else.

Men take a long time to get over a broken relationship and at times go through their whole lives unable to get over a particular woman, but then they generally do not have the problem of not having a job and having to raise children as well as courts generally give custody of the kids to the women.

One more example of how nature compensates people for natural inadequacies.