The Earth is Always Shifting

As Morrissey is about to celebrate his 63rd birthday and an incredible 40 year music career, this nation should revere his achievements. However the opposite appears to be the case, there is instead more invective, more personal attacks and insinuations. It is perhaps a sad reflection on England itself, which regards any artistic expression of earnestness with suspicion and contempt, and shamefully seeks to destroy any individual who dares to display any hint of eccentricity.

These spiteful attacks of course mean nothing to his devoted fans, but it is pertinent to consider the diminishing role that popular music plays in our lives, especially as a transgressive art form. In fact pop music as an art form does not have the emotional impact that it once had in our lives.

There has been a shift towards a technological and purely materialist future. Pop music has been cleansed of its potency and danger, the two most successful British singers of our age are Ed Sheeran and Adele. Their music is reassuringly pleasant, but it is bland and meaningless. Music like this is so vague, dull and sanitised that it is used in supermarket adverts.

Music journalists are often characterised as frustrated and bitter, and entirely motivated by jealousy. There is some degree of truth in this, many of them enter the profession after musical failures of their own. They are especially contemptuous of success and seek to destroy it, either insidiously or directly.

Again this should mean little to the artists or their fans, whoever they may be, but it is something that should be frowned upon because this just encourages coarseness and vulgarity. Society in general has become much more coarse and vulgar and ugly personal remarks only perpetuate the situation. Journalists of course are part of the huge corporate machinery which only sees value in profit, rather than the real meaning and substance of the art that is produced.

The corporate music business, including its PR wing, has always been ruthless. It is very difficult to survive with any integrity in an industry that is so profit orientated and reliant on marketing. If an artist has a particularly unfashionable image then they are divested exceedingly quickly and their complicit associates in the press often feel vindicated.

Music, of course, is totally subjective. It has a different meaning depending upon the taste of the person who is listening to it. Most people enjoy music because it has a powerful emotional resonance. When John Denver`s folksy Americana was popular with audiences the critics sneered. His harmless romanticised evocations of a lost American Eden attracted the worst reviews, and by the end of the seventies his “country boy” persona was jeered at because it wasn`t edgy enough.

One spiteful reviewer even quipped that he hoped a bald eagle would seize him and peck him to death on the mountain. At the time Denver was wounded by the viciousness of that remark but he was always comforted by the letters from his fans who told him how much his music meant to them at various stages in their lives, when they got married, or had their first child.

We should always respect musicians for the role that they play in our culture, even if the music that they play isn`t to your taste there is no need to destroy their lives and careers.

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