It’s clear, on every level, the music business has turned back the pages of time to the 1950s when rock ‘n roll was the start of something very big.
There had never been a music superstar until Elvis Presley hit the scene with millions upon millions of teenage girls from the Baby Boomer era stirring the frenzy over Presley’s polite Southern charm and amazing good looks. It didn’t hurt that Presley had an unmerciful manager in Colonel Tom Parker who exploited every asset at his disposal to bank on Presley’s talent and good nature.
Rock ‘n roll is a term coined by radio DJ, Alan Freed, who could see a cultural revolution was about explode. And it did.
The influences rock drew from directly are the blues, R&B, and to a certain extent jazz; none of which produced a celebrity like Presley or anyone who created a prolific career in subsequent years.
So here we are 50 something years later depending on your timeline, and much has changed, though everything remains the same.
Vinyl recordings went from the 78, to the 33 LP, to the 45 single. Cassette tapes and CDs were the final physical products, morphing into air as MP3’s, soundclouds … and who knows what’s next.
Music education in the public schools obviously had a revolutionary effect on the generations of kids who’ve grown up believing in their own musical gift. And everybody and their brother believes they can claim their share of fame working in the business via sheer will and determination.
If any of the names or history documented in the paragraphs above are foreign to you — it’s unlikely the music business is for you. If you’ve never worked in music directly but lived through it vicariously — this business doesn’t need any more posers.
Well, why you might ask. It’s a free country — or so we’ve been told.
The truth of the matter is nothing in music is the way it seems.
Doctors and lawyers go to school for years to earn degrees that allow them to practice their chosen discipline. After all, people’s lives are at stake. With so many people believing they can make it in music either as a recording/performing artist or behind the scenes — people’s lives are at stake. A great deal of knowledge and understanding is necessary to have a successful outcome, and you’re not going to get there, naming yourself president of the company extorting experience from people who paved the way.
And though we’ve gone back in time to what is now a new frontier there is never going to be another Baby Boom with millions upon millions of teenagers to buy music as was the case from the 1950s forward. Technology, as wonderful as it is, will alter the course of music’s confluence through history. But it will never be as great as it once was for too many reasons to count.
If you want to be part of music history — go to live shows, and buy the products from musicians who’ve made it this far down the path. Or come up with an idea that truly works, then invest yourself in the idea without climbing on the back of anyone who paid their dues.
Lisa Marie Presley’s new CD Storm and Grace includes a tune called “Soften the Blows.” Some of the lyrics include:
When the well has no water to hold, and the wheels start to run off the road, where do we go?
When we bury the embers that glow, and the seeds that we planted won’t grow, like we were told.
Hey, man, what in the hell do we know?
Whoever is running the show there’s one thing that I need to know.
Could you soften the blows?
Could you soften the blows?