Not long ago, Frood¹, Mr. Viva and I watched U2 perform on Saturday Night Live². And what a wonder that 40 years after U2 started making music, they still make new music! And still with the social commentary! And Bono shouts into a bullhorn! Given that U2 may not be your cup of tea soundwise, agewise they are my contemporaries and here I shout into the internet void making music on my little orange crate with my bullhorn just.like.Bono! But I digress.
As we watched U2, I thought of career musicians and who of the new artists I listen to now, will I listen to in 20+ years?
Looking back, the disco ’70’s Rolling Stones were old guys. To me, they were so ’60’s. And I thought ‘they should hang it up.’ But here’s the thing, they played through my adolescent derision and they played through the disco era. Forty-plus years since, the Stones still persist. And here’s another thing, I still listen to the Disco Stones as much as I don’t listen to K.C. & the Sunshine Band. Same era, different musicians, different career arch. I’ve seen K.C. & Sunshine in concert, it was fun and they were talented but … hmmm …
Musical progression, personal reflections in the musical mirror, social and political commentary, concepts, cohesion. Not just songs but sound. Who makes a career of it and who doesn’t, who’s a pop-candy-flash-in-the-pan and who’s a full pot roast dinner? The mashed potatoes might be lumpy but the gravy is divine and oh how I love me mixed metaphors. Again, I digress.
Early U2, the big breakout album The Joshua Tree carried the message ‘I’m-young-and-a-bit-of-an-arsehole-watch-me-change-the-world.’ The new U2 album³, The Songs of Experience messages, ‘arseholes-aside-we-need-to-change-the-world-and-you-are-part-of-we.’ We can’t do it ourselves. We need you. We all need we.
Two albums separated by decades with the same resulting message – change the world. And all sung to the tune of U2.
Music. Follow a career. Who persists. What changes. What sticks.
– Written on a Saturday morning with coffee in the Mr. Viva manroom listening to Miles Davis and The Complete Birth of The Cool, S’il Vous Plait …
¹ Frood. Still not her real name, but she knows of where her towel is.
² Saturday Night Live first aired in 1975. SNL has been around a long time, too. Future blog post idea: Aging comedically. And Michael Che on Weekend Update. Deadpan delivery. He persists. He consistently cracks me up.
³ Album. IMO, “album” is a throwback term related to the delivery of music on a vinyl disc played on analog equipment of a specific size, limited to a certain amount of time. “Albums” (usually) imply a theme. As digital has taken over — I can download music through the time and space of the wireless web. A collection of songs can be organized in many ways other than artist and theme and play time limitations.
Maybe it’s time to rethink “album” terminology. ‘B’-side anybody? If you know what THAT means, you might be of a certain age … just sayin’.