This past Friday, I went to a bakery around the corner. They have this dessert called a Chocolate Taco—a cookie “taco shell” filled with chocolate moose and topped with chocolate shavings (Pretty much a When Harry Met Sally kind of dessert). Anyway, I’m not sure what the joke was, but their stereo system was playing a song on repeat: Billy Joel’s “The Downeaster Alexa,” which I subsequently heard about eight times. But each time it played, one line kept catching my attention:
And I realized that’s a bit how I feel in regards to mainstream music. As much as I wish there’d be a return to the glory days, I’m simply longing for something that no longer exists.
But what am I going to do about it? Put on a pair of skinny jeans and fake glasses? Drink expensive coffee while I piss and moan with the kids over in Silver Lake about how much better life was before Gotye and Foster the People were on the radio? What good would that accomplish? It would do nothing to change the current—and more-than-likely permanent—paradigm.
It’s of no coincidence that the Grammys took place the same night as the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead. Because is there really a better analogy for what has happened to music? Zombies are human bodies completely void of emotion and feeling, whose sole desire is to destroy all remaining pieces of humanity. They devour our nation and their sickness continues to spread, even infecting those who were previously clean. Pretty much sums up what we hear on the radio, right?
But if we are using The Walking Dead as a metaphor, how can we forget about the group of survivors? Rick, Herschel, Daryl, and Glenn; just to name a few (For the time being, we’ll just ignore those crazy Woodbury people). While society crumbles around them, and even as they lose those who are near and dear, they continue to trek on. Hoping to find a way to keep their standard of living as high as possible.
Back in reality, our musical survivors made their presence felt at the Grammys. Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, Frank Ocean, and Adele; just to name a few of the few. Pushing on the only way they know how, despite what the current standards attempt to dictate. They may be outnumbered by the callous zombies, but they remain true to their form.
So perhaps I shouldn’t take Billy Joel’s words as an absolute statement. The island is definitely out there. Maybe I’ve just allowed the horde to prevent me from seeing the lighthouse.
I remember a few years back while mind-numbingly flipping through channels, I came across an HBO airing of The Jonas Brothers: 3D Concert Experience. The band’s on stage, playing this awful music, but when the camera would pan the crowd, I saw nothing but girls screaming. Thousands and thousands of young girls, just ripping their vocal cords to shreds. Non-stop. Some were even in tears. They couldn’t even begin to help themselves. And I had an epiphany: If this music can bring such jubilation to so many people, can it really be all that bad? And my opinion as of today … yes, it really can be all that bad. But at least I’m trying to get over it, eh?