I continue to bounce around different styles of music. What I used to call classical music seems to have taken a huge step out of the spotlight. Major newspapers don’t necessarily have people on the beat of that kind of music so much any more. My guess is that for so long academic music dominated the music beats that now people like the NYT cultural critic, Wesley Morris, have only pop music on their horizon. This was the guy who wrote the music chapter of The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story (the book) and did the 1619 podcast episode on the same subject.
I read about half of his chapter before returning to reading straight through. I suspect that this collection of essays is very uneven.
Nichole Hannah Jones is who created the original project and then is credited as having “created” the book version. She is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist and teacher. But I found her essay which is the first one a weird blend of personal anecdote and sweeping assertions. I hasten to say that I am very supportive of the idea of broadening the historical discussion to include stuff that has been omitted by white historians. However I did notice that Jones’ footnotes in this essay were often to newspaper articles. Her citations disappointed me in that they did not point me to new sources to consider. But I will read the entire work eventually.
But to get back to the weirdness of thinking about music styles.
Jean Baudrillard’s Selectedd Writings came in the mail today. Though I picked up on Baudrillard from Gerald Vizenor’s Fugitive Poses, his (Baudrillard’s) ideas on commodification of society quickly made me think of my own weird love of commercial music AND other kinds of music. Part of my struggle with commercial music is that I believe that it’s primary purpose is probably to get itself consumed and this often is the basis of its design. This makes it sometimes feel dishonest to me and consequently not very attractive to me who loves music.
Maybe this is the inevitable bigotry of old age, but when I examine commercial music of my own past though I know that the musicians I admire like the Beatles and James Brown and on and on were definitely in it for the money the music does not feel fundamentally dishonest to me. I just use my own built-in bullshit gauge.
When I am considering music that is new to me, I can tell whether I like it or not. And that is the biggest question. Music I like seems to include music that is many different styles. I think sometimes that I fail to connect to music because I am most interested in how it sounds. But commercial music sometimes seems to be a sort of celebrity thing where what is being sold is a persona not necessarily a sound.