New Music Is Nowhere To Be Found: Same Old Greats Still Providing The Hits

By Moon

Thank God for songwriters like Paul McCartney, Carol King, and James Taylor. As my ears endure the squelch that is today's contemporary music, I long for the offerings of talented songwriters of old - remember the ones who actually wrote (and performed) memorable tunes? I have a theory that is quite simple - the new generation of pop artists is not contributing music of lasting importance or quality. It is confirmed almost daily, but never quite so clearly as during this unsettling time in the life of our nation.

Since the September 11 events, experts have noted that the public - who have until recently been sating their musical tastes with gangsta rap, midriff-baring pubescents, and Orlando boy bands - are now hungry for music with meaning. They are abstaining from the violent sounds of rap and spitting out the vapid materialism of teenyboppers dressed like French Quarter whores (latter includes both the girl and boy band entertainment genres).

When Sir Paul McCartney organized the October 20, 2001, Concert for New York City, he included only the best singers, songwriters, and performers on the planet. Didn't you notice that virtually all the artists were fifty-something? They were popular in the '60s and '70s. Nevertheless, they were also popular in the '80s and '90s and still into the 2000s. Why? Because these all-stars are damn talented. They actually know how to play their instrument or several, they have trained voices, they usually write their own material, and they really don't cater to the latest fashions.

There were no Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Puffy Diddy Doggy Doo, or other wretched publicity machines appearing. I don't know how Kid Rock got onto the stage with such quality musicians, but it looked like Mr. Mellencamp invited him to appear in his set, not at the request of Sir Paul. (Yes, I know Macy Gray is a young talent - she's quite the exception, a classically trained pianist and vocalist - but then again, she sang a Beatle's cover tune).

If you were born before 1975, you were probably like me - at the point of tears - seeing these familiar, mature acts perform in front of an audience paying rapt attention and in awe of every note. No moshing, No beads for boob-flashing. I saw firemen, policemen, emergency workers and their families comforted that the quality of the performers measured up to the significance of this event. Could you imagine a teary-eyed Aguilera whimpering about "how bad the attacks were" and "how we all just need to come together now for world peace?" No, a full Madison Square Garden audience of young-ish adults got to see Bowie, The Who (who rocked the house), Clapton, Joel, and many other graying greats.

In other areas of my life, I can accept the past and move forward. But, with pop music, I can't let go, mainly because the new stuff just doesn't cut it. The new Carol King song "Love Makes the World (Go Round)," says more than its title. It proves that a well-delivered melody and intelligent lyric are hit status for listeners who have half a brain. I have vowed not to buy another new album until it's worthy of my $18.99. There is some room on the shelf though - a cozy place right next to the latest Steely Dan disc, now a year old. Perhaps I'll buy the new Carol King - who cares if she's old enough to be my grandmother!? Maybe Mick and Keith's "(Let's Drink to) The Salt of the Earth," or Paul McCartney's "Freedom" - which was introduced at the Concert for NYC and brought the house down. All these new songs are instantly desirable because they mean something. They also have a melody, structure and were not delivered by mouth-breathing morons grabbing their crotches through their baggies.

Do you think Sir Paul buys new music? Two years ago at the Grammy's, he squinted into the TelePrompTer and read off the nominees for a certain award - "Laurence Hill" he said puzzled. He had no idea in the world who Lauryn Hill was - just the Number One artist in the universe that year, according to those purchasing new music. Paul had no idea because the new music isn't worth his time. Keep listening, because there is hope for new music - it's from the songwriters of old.