We treat them like prophets, these favored musicians, but just like the prophets of old we stone them when they say the things we don't want to hear. Our fickle culture which tends to move quickly from one emotional extreme to the next seems to lack the loyalty and wisdom to hear something unexpected, critical or challenging. In a world where instant gratification is god, digging for food is too burdensome for most and can even incite contempt in a few. Not only do we write these prophets off when they deviate from our expectations, we can quickly write off and discard what was once deemed by us as profound.
I wonder why this is? I do it all the time. The music I envied ten years ago is music I'm sometimes embarrassed to admit I listened to. Perhaps it's because we attach ourselves so tightly to Status, whose standards are set by Culture, which is driven in a big way by Trend through Media. The music I liked is no longer trendy. Of course, there are some things that appealed to me in my younger state that no longer speak to me as an adult simply because they lack the maturity and depth I now crave, but most of the time I've grown out of things primarily because they became cliche, overdone, and out of fashion. I need growth, progression and challenge to stay interested.
Some people are the opposite. They like what they liked when they were in their younger, more hormonal state. Music meant more back then, when the hair on your arms and neck would stand up and a feeling of euphoria would wash over you at the hint of a decent melody. Nostalgia takes over, and they attach it to the music. If the music was the same now as it was back then, maybe it would have the same effect, but alas, it's out of style and there are only figments of it left in it's modern counterparts.
I think the truth lies somewhere in between. I agree that when I was younger I was much more impressionable, and that music had a way of moving me to a degree that it rarely does these days. I also think that good music in the mainstream is harder to find. I mean good, emotional, meaningful music. Trend drives so much of what we hear, and often times the music is creative but the lyrics are too shallow or too obscure for us to relate on that deeper level. It's cool sounding, we're supposed to like it, but it doesn't really move us at our core. Musicians are playing the Trend game all too often to appeal to the masses, or even the niches.
The fact is musicians aren't politicians. Art should not be dictated by Media or Trend. Art should be free from contamination. Art needs integrity to be true art. The second an artist starts listening to his critics is the second he loses perspective, gives in, and starts becoming less effective. But it's a two-way street. We as listeners shouldn't stone our prophets. We should not assume they will create what we want them to create in the exact way that we expect. We should not assume that they listen to our comments and criticisms, because if we assume that then we also have to assume that they are fake artists. If they do what they do to please us then they are nothing more than politicians. Support those who create art you identify with and they will continue to create. Turn on them for creating something unexpected and they may be forced into silence without to resources to publish what they create.
Not everyone will understand every piece of art that an artist creates, but if the artist is good, someone will identify with all of them. The reason we loved our favored artists and musicians is because they didn't sound like everyone else, they trail-blazed with something that contained more substance than their counterparts. We should not chastise them for taking paths we do not understand. We should not stone our prophets, we should hear them out. I hated Brand New's Deja Entendu the first three times I heard it. Now it's in my top ten of all time. I didn't expect it, but it doesn't mean it's not completely genius. How many painters were ridiculed in their lifetimes, only to be discovered as prolific, creative masters after their deaths? The answer is too many to count.
For you artists out there, aspiring or veteran, I implore you to be independently creative regardless of what people think. Do not place your validity in the opinions of the layman. Even if 9/10 misunderstand you, remember these words: