David Bowie, and why music no longer influences culture

The problem when old rockers die, and the last two that hit me the hardest were Bowie and Lou Reed,  is that it brings up a ton of feelings in someone, say 57 years old.  Here’s the thing:  there are hundreds, nay thousands of bar acts that count as quality even rebellious rock and roll out there right now, but NONE will have the impact of Bowie or Reed, and NONE who question authority or promulgate an alternative lifestyle hit with the IMPACT on our culture the music once had.


This has occurred, as all glorious creative times (1950 to 1980, give or take) yield to the new dark age that came upon us in 1980, or just before, and the squelching of truly alarming and monumental creativity has slowly but surely gotten worse.  As electronics, propaganda via ALL MEDIA, and “conservative values” whitewash all fields of a cultural realm (maybe not classical music…)  we are left living in the past (Jedthro Tull) and yearn for more Michael Moores or at least more Ernest Hemingways, and if their contemporary equivalents are out there (where, or who is the NEXT Kurt Vonnegut even?) there’s a good chance they’ve been left unpublished, unheard, unseen due to things like Sony buying Columbia records.  Conservative Japanese guys took the label that brought us Dylan, Springsteen, Simon and Garfunkel and a LOT of other acts that questioned authority and BAM squelched any new ones from hitting it being (by not being signed).


Throw in a pinch of MTV and a heavy dose of an ass-lick or two (see American Idol or even the Voice) and again,music no longer has the influence to help end a war(Vietnam ended due to an entire generation being inspired by countless anti-war  protest songs).


Now that Billy Bragg has slowed his US touring schedule and bands like Rage Against the Machine are bundled and tied, name me who is going to replace the cultural icons known as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young or a long string of others.


Here I can go to Cat’s Cradle and 25 other venues to catch a huge sampling of the up and coming bands. Probably 20% have the chops and even the philosophy to challenge my theory that the days of a culture influenced by creative people has died. But can you name me one of these bands? Have you seen them live?  Did you download their stuff?


Worse yet, other than Kathy Acker and few others, which writers are busting full blast against the wars? OK Chris Hedges (the Pulitzer Prize winner fired from the New York Times) has it going on at http://www.truthout.com. Journalists who persist in investigative reporting are often fired.


Hell, the movies and tv are a lost cause, and basically (look at all the cop shows on CBS alone!) feed such malicious propaganda (lies) that it makes me want to puke. TV? Who has time for that shit. And I say that in the face of a TON of new great shows…still it doesn’t outweigh the pro war, pro “tough on crime” poop. We’re being transferred into a country where the police are militarized, meaning someone somewhere believes more direct attacks (um police killing unarmed people is a problem that equals the racism behind it) on suspects is A-OK.


Sprinkle in the icing: The Patriot Act ended Habeas Corpus, the legal belief that people MUST be told WHY they are being arrested, at the time of arrest. This has been in western law since 1215. Yes 1215, when King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta. Before I go off hard on how impossible it is to defend yourself if the cops or anyone else doesn’t tell you why you’re being arrested… wow King George the Bush got this crap passed, and the Supreme Court didn’t bat an eyelash (though it’s extremely unconstitutional) and the Constitutional expert,Barack Obama,also never once brought up overturning this foul law and Patriot Act 2, another insult. Had their been an effective watchdog ANYWHERE, this stuff might not have happened. Rise up young voices; or be squelched forever.


To Be Human

is to fall in love over and over,
to never give up on any of them,
to cry for the inhumanity, and try to
overcome all that surrounds us by creating
a closeness with those in proximity, both
geographical and philosophical. It is to
carry those loves in our heart, flooding our
minds no matter how gone they are. And
to put others’ needs first, understand their
flaws, work on our own so we can be
better helpers. It is to take it all in and
follow our dreams no matter how preposterous;
to pull apart another brown paper bag and
to write it all out, no matter how choppy.
So take my hand and make it all better
before I repeat the painful parts until
I can no longer act. To struggle past
obstructions and obligations, self-imposed and
expected; to wallow in joy, build strength and
change what we can for the better. To give.




4 thoughts on “David Bowie, and why music no longer influences culture

  1. One reason forme, a little older than you, music changed my life was social awareness about war. Anti war and peace anthems were beautiful and then, rockers like Hendrix shouted and railed against the powers that be. I went to the McGovern convention in Cleveland and all my “heroes” Simon and Gardunkle, James Taylor, Carly Simon and Carole King sang while Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty were ushers. Once in a lifetime which agrees with your post title and also, your message. Peace, Robin

    • It alarms me that no one cares that their music is vapid if not meaningless these days. Maybe romance in music is still alive,and dance tracks to move those who still dance(dwindling) but no one goes out and becomes an activist over it, or dedicates their lives to helping others after musical inspiration, that I know. We should be horrified thatpropaganda has won to this extent. Fascism could easily be the next step.

  2. Thanks Robin. I got involved early as my brother was born in 1951, ton my 1958. I was such an activist for labor, environment, anti-poverty, anti-racism, that I ended up volunteering 40 hours + a week a the Eastern Service Workers, Southern Anti-Racism Network, etc. As a journalist I flared off into being a speech writer for the Jerry Brown campaign for President in 1992 (91) and a campaign Chair for Ralph Nader in 2000, and New York Volunteer in 1996. The regrettable failure of the music industry to adequately SUPPORT anti authority folk stars (Billy Brag, please, live forever) and the upcoming demise of Neil Young coupled in a San Fran. way with the 1995 death of Jerry Garcia, marks a time when the last nail in the coffin of music being an influence is being hammered. Keep checking in, I’d love to meet you one day. Plenty to talk about I’m sure.

    PS: Bernie is also being Skewered by his gun votes, but his recent proposal to stiffen gun laws is far tougher than Obamas. Obama did his to support Clinton (note the Town Hall Meeting with a sitting President) and she’s a woefully inadequate Neo-con, as her husband is. EVEN BERNIE has no plan to end the wars. Hence, if a Sanders type has caved on the one key issue that ruins the USA forever, the rest would be far far worse. So I’ll back Bernie, but by the time they get to North Carolina, I fear money wins again. I wanted to puke loudly when Obama said he wanted Campaign Finance Reform. HA, he said NOW, after his campaigning days were over.

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