Here’s how you tell that music is truly in the gutter: we’re
shocked when we hear something that’s actually good. We respond as
if we’ve suddenly sampled another universe that actually requires
talented musicians instead of musicians with talent as a plus. This
applies to whatever musical activity you find yourself a part of.
Whether it be a new CD, a recent concert, or even a jam session,
you will find yourself shocked if the artist is actually cognizant
of their music. If this is the case, someone explain to me why our
look of amazement is the same face we respond with when someone has
played the worst of the worst.
This summer, I heard a lady sing and started looking around the
crowd thinking, “Am I the only one hearing this mess?” It was
terrible. But then why did I think the same thought this past
Saturday when I jammed with a pianist who blew my mind away? I ask,
why has it become the norm to listen to crap?
Now I first must admit that I have a very soft spot for pianos.
Since I am in the process of trying to teach myself to play, I love
to hear pianists play. After this weekend, I must say that I am
shocked. It’s one thing to hear great music on a CD or on a stage
at a concert, but it’s another thing entirely to be playing
alongside it. So much was running through my mind at the moment.
Everything from, “should I ask her to play with my band” to “I
really had no idea she could do that.” If you find yourself shocked
when you finally hear music that exhibits talent, imagine one’s
reaction when they are creating that music themselves. In fact,
imagine that reaction when it has been created only in that moment
and is completely improvised in its expression.
What’s worse is I’m not even sure if people truly understand how
scarce talent is nowadays. All the great musicians out there are
either already in groups that get no serious respect, or they’re
stuck in the 9 to 5 workweek and have been forced to pawn their
instruments. Everyone else has either been lied to about their
actual talent or is out practicing their routine for the next
American Idol audition. All the freshly starting musicians are left
to pick through the crowd of leftovers. And the leftovers consist
of drug addicts, accidental Jack Black impersonators, and good
Here’s what riddles my mind, if music is supposed to be the
answer, what was the question? How bad can it get? Because it seems
music has been answering this like a Thoreau essay. At this point
I’m ready to ask for another Milli Vanilli. They were fake and
couldn’t sing, but at least they owned up to it.