As I sit here reading this textbook teaching myself about the movements in music and their connection to the media world I realize to some extent hey, I lived that! Yes, I know that I wasn’t around in 1977 to see Sid Vicious rock out in the Sex Pistols, and I admit I wasn’t even alive to see Wham!’s release of “Wake me up before you go go” in 1984, and thus wasn’t around at all to see the music world’s transition into ‘New Pop’ (as explained by Goodwin, in his text “Dancing in the Distraction Factory”). But as much as my 19 year old life allows, I feel that I have in my own strange way undergone this silly music transition process.
A couple of Fender ‘Strats’, a few cheap amps (with what I feel must have included a permanent overdrive channel), a starter drum kit with cracked symbols (due to the heavy abuse from previous Metallica-loving owner), a few teaspoons of teenage angst, an unfinished basement and either very chill or very deaf parents was the formula for me and my three buddies on our daily after school ‘jam sessions’. At the time of this musical venture my and buddies and I must have been 13 years old when we formed our first band. Soon as the bell struck the end of a dreadfully long school day, we would hop on our skateboards and book it on over to the drummer’s house to scarf down as much sugar and pop that was required to keep us rocking every punk rock track with the same intensity. Though we weren’t exactly jamming The Clash or Sex Pistols, we were rocking out to our more modern idols of punk rock, like such groups as NOFX, Rancid, or Lagwagon.
Eventually we became victim to the cliché of an amateur punk rock band. As I read Goodwin’s quote by Laing “Here’s a chord. Now go and form a band”, I realize how cliché and like every one else we really were. Proud of writing our own original material we were quick to get our first show at the local pool hall. A couple weeks before the show questions began filling our heads. However, they weren’t questions of what can we practice to get our sound tighter or what parts in our instrument playing do we need to smooth out, but questions like how can we convince the crowd we’re true punk rockers. At this point in time we turned to our rock teachers via Much Music. We flicked on the television and soaked up every spiked hair, studded belt and immense belt buckle, not to forget the high-cut Chuck Taylor All-Stars. And like every teenage punk rocker struggling hard to be ‘original’ with the help of our mothers we got Mohawks (but took turns, swapping the haircut every couple of months because everyone knows two guys in the same band can’t both simultaneously have Mohawks).
Slowly however, television began playing more and more pop videos. The label ‘punk rock’ then began to get stamped on pop rock bands like SUM 41 or Blink 182. And my buddies and I then began to wear a whole new wardrobe of clothing. And with that our own music writing began to change as well. The choppy punk rock beats became smoother and easier sounding to the ears. The harsh, loud, grunge sounding guitar rhythms became more legato and melodic. Songs about skateboarding became songs about girls. We literally went from track titles such as “The Marionette (of death)” to tracks such as “The Pop Punk Love Song”.
As grade 12 hit, and with university around the corner, the band-hangouts to watch and read about the music world lessened. I still played my guitar religiously and listened to music as much as I ever did, but I rarely involved myself in reading any music or guitar magazines, and completely halted watching music videos. I am not exactly sure if this has any correlation at all, or is just merely coincidence, but at this point in my life my taste in music took a huge turn. My record collection began filling up with older musicians and bands like Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Peter Gabriel, Bob Marley and certainly not to forget my present day idol Bob Dylan. But this drastic change in listening seems to occur in many people. Is it a sign of maturity? I don’t really know. What I do know is that the music of someone like Bob Dylan did not attract me because of some flashy video, or the shoes he was wearing. And more so, such media theories like magic bullet or hypodermic needle were not the case. I wasn’t listening to Bob Dylan’s folk record “Bringing It All Back Home” record because popular radio stations were continuously playing his tracks (they must have needed more room to play Nickel Back’s “Rock star” an even million times). And there certainly aren’t any Bob Dylan music videos being aired. Not to mention how much more difficult it is to find a Bob Dylan record in any store, and to have to pay at least two times the amount for a Dylan record than you do any Black Eyed Peas album.
When I think about my transition as a musician and avid music listener from bands like NOFX, to Blink 182, to Bob Dylan, I take Goodwin’s advice and look at the structure of their music when I compare. Bands like NOFX and Blink 182 are geniuses in capturing a very structured three chord catchy song, however they are missing that essential something which makes a musician timeless. Using Marxist’s use value idea, I now put this into play while viewing my music taste. Blink 182 certainly does fulfill that short term trendy need, however it lacks any long term significant meaning. It’s lyrics and meaning don’t stand for anything longer lasting than describing your teenage urge to party and make out with girls. The reasoning for my attraction to Bob Dylan, and why I believe I truly feel his albums will always remain dust free in my record collections, can be most easily be explained by hearing his own words for yourself (Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright Ma”):
Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you’re the one
Than can do what’s never been done
Than can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you