written for the pho list
I think that those of you who have known me and my progression of
thoughts throughout this whole insane MP3 thing so far have know that
I’ve *tried* to keep a semblance of perspective on things. But…
For the first time in my life, I find myself listening to the radio on
a regular basis. My car, a beautifully junky 1989 Mazda 626 4-door,
has a really junky tape deck and I haven’t felt like putting in an
MP3+speaker system that would probably cost twice as much as the
car. So I just listen to the radio, which is an interesting exercise.
This is *wildly* cliche, but GOOD GOD DOES COMMERCIAL RADIO SUCK. We
are spoonfed the same 100 songs in three different formats on most of
the stations. No music is from local artists. All is professionally
engineered, recorded, and mastered, gone over with the greatest care
to make sure that every last harmonic is just present enough for a
While I am, like most other fools, appreciative of the quality of such
music, I find it oppressive, too.
Because *I* can’t make music like that, and never will be able to; maybe that’s not such a big deal in and of itself, but moreover, nobody who I even know and consider quite musical will be able to produce work like that. Hell, the artists themselves often jest that they don’t sound that good. And they don’t; it’s *studio sound*.
The result of the studio engineering of the music that we listen to
day-in, day-out is a music-oppressive culture. People don’t sing,
except perhaps on a very invigorating day a cautious tune in the
shower and maybe to hum along with the radio. When is the last time
you heard people, just on the job, walking down the street, or in a
restaurant, just burst out with song?
Why aren’t there drinking songs in the US? Why are karoke bars
generally unpopular with non-Asian Americans? Does this say anything,
that we can’t even bring ourselves to sing when we’re drunk?
Why? Because we’re embarassed. Relative to the engineered sound of
perfection, we *all* sound like squawking little pre-pubescent
birds. So we keep our trap shut.
And the consequence is that the “music industry” has done just what it
is; it has industrialized music. It has centralized music and put a
meter on its distribution and control, relabelling the songs of our
hearts as “intellectual property” and demanding tribute for their
What a WEAK AND PATHETIC PEOPLE WE ARE!!!
And it really is times like this that I want to scream DIE, RECORD
LABELS, DIE! Burn the studios(*), the radio stations, fire the
recording engineers, destroy Tower Records and Virgin Megastore, and
grab those mikes and put them where they belong: in *everyone’s*
Does it occur to anyone that music wasn’t *invented* and isn’t just
simply some idea whose patent has expired and doesn’t just happen to
be a freely-licensed medium for the creation of entertainment product?
It comes from the *soul*. It wasn’t designed to be “productized” – the
“productization” of human existance is the most profoundly awful
result of modern, over-aggressive capitalism.
And so “fine,” I say, “go out of business!”
I would love to support a company that, for the above reasons, is just
outright “Look, here we are; we’re here to destroy the recording
I don’t *want* an Internet medium to forge new multiplatinum
artists. I would be delighted if no artist ever went platinum again,
because that would have *so* many positive implications on American
culture. I want an Internet medium where I won’t get looked at funny
if *I* want to sing, to make the music that resides in *my* soul and
echo it to whomever gives a whoop (maybe four people, if I get lucky);
furthermore, where such things are not only permitted, not only not
jeered at, but are actively supported and encouraged.
We have forgot, as a nation, that our goal is not to pursue the
industrialization and commoditization of our existance; to make a
dollar out of every last ounce of soul, of passion that yet remains
within us. Because when you commoditize the soul, you destroy it. And
there’s so little that is left of the collective American soul that it
should be declared an endangered and protected species and treated as
such. But lo, every time one stands up to defend it, should it counter
*profit* you are portrayed as perhaps an evil, clueless Marxist
revolutionary, or just a punk kid out to destroy shit and come up with
an excuse for it later…
…but I feel I’m getting inspired to premeditate upon this murder —
not of people, but of a structure — to chew over how I can do a
little two cents to bring it down.
Because I just don’t see a compatibility between the recording
industry’s survival and the survival of the collective American soul.
Don’t Tread On Me.
(Why didn’t we keep such a *bad ass* motto for our nation?)
* – note, this is not actually a call for arson. please do not set fire to any facilities. 😉