Thursday, April 24, 2008

Art/Empire/Industry & "AntiMechanistic Gospel"

Bill Nelson and Red Noise's brilliant, overlooked ( helpful review here) or misunderstood
"Sound on Sound" is prophetic on a number of levels related to shift in church and culture; and the cultural captivity of Christendumb.

The record (on one level) a joyfully bleak, nervous-happy manifesto/warning of an Orwellian 1984 (released in 1979) and is also in part a deconstruction, detox and subversion of his
previous band's/fans expectations.

I have blogged a bit on all this at this link..

Today the lyrics of one song on the disc,"Art/Empire/Industry" came to mind:
"Paintings are subversive/ Freedom is Machines/ All print is propaganda/ We know what it means to sing/Art Empire Industry."

Rolling Stone was insighful:

Nelson—like Peter Hammill — preaches the antimechanistic gospel: "I'm all hooked up to every modern appliance/But I hang with the angels from the gallows of science." Yet this sermonizing is reminiscent of the way eighteenth-century novelists used slam-bang moralistic endings to justify the titillation in their texts. Bill Nelson's own loving use of technology belies the cynicism of his lyrics. "Art/Empire/Industry" has lines like "Colour is disruption/Uniforms are grey," but, paced by factory-line drum thunder and the swing of Ian Nelson's saxophone, it's so arch that it's joyous: a potential showstopping production number for a musical history of the Bauhaus.
-Debra Rae Cohen, Rolling Stone

That song came involuntarily came to mind, as a soundtrack to Kevin Max's wonderful/heartbreaking post about CCM; which tipped

me off to Charlie Peacock's chillingly honest editorial in CCM magazine.

I cannot believe they printed it. I will quote it extensively as well as link to it here, half in fear the company will yank it offline. They get kudos for publishing it, but demerits for giving it the cheesy subtitle, "Peacock's Prognostication." I pasted it in below, and I see even the advertisement in the middle of the article came through. Need I comment on that?.

Here's the prophet Charlie:

I'm a man with an opinion, and opinions are cheap. I’m riffing here—that’s what musicians do. Keep your eyes and ears open. See what comes true.

The music business aspect of Christian music (labels, radio, touring, etc.) will continue to follow the pattern of the world, especially as long as baby-boomers and Gen-X people are in charge. The pattern is an increasingly unsuccessful business model run by people trapped in a system intent on slow, incremental change in the face of monumental cultural shifts.

The music business, Christian and otherwise, has been a wealth-creation mechanism for a small, elite group of executives, songwriters, producers and artists. Those days are over. Still, the old guard won’t go peaceably. They’ll fight for control to the end. When they finally exit, the new music business will be underway.

Nevertheless, the majors (EMI CMG, Provident, Word) are not going out of business anytime soon. They will function as the genre’s archivists and primary copyright holders for music publishing and sound recordings. Unfortunately, the majority of the recordings created over the last 35+ years were “youth targeted” mainstream music knock-offs at their conception and designed to get past a host of gatekeepers with agendas other than the promotion of good music. This will prove to be a significant future problem. All the companies will continue to downsize as the cumulative catalog devalues over time. Ultimately, there may be only one company left to steward the music of the “ccm” era. That company will be Bill Hearn’s to lead if he wants it.

Christian music as a genre has always been a music you move on from. Young Christian baby-boomers and Gen-X once in love with the music abandoned it in adulthood and have not returned. As a result, legacy artist catalogs (ranging from Larry Norman to Amy Grant to dcTalk and beyond) do not and will not have the staying power of their mainstream counterparts such as The Beatles, The Eagles, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Celine Dion, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and U2. All these artists, and a hundred others, remain popular and economically viable today. Sadly, the pattern does not hold true for what was contemporary Christian music.

The sum of Christian music’s contribution will be under-utilized and underappreciated by the church and viewed as irrelevant by the world. I see no reason to believe that the cumulative catalog of music will increase in value and popularity. Great songs are less forgettable than irrelevant recordings though. There will be a portfolio of songs (and some recordings) that are remembered and held in esteem by the church—a kind of canon from the era. The church will perpetuate these songs, and the Christian music industry will capitalize on the enthusiasm as best they can.
-Charlie Peacock, The Future of Christian Music

Note: among the selections on the jukebox above is an older inteview w/Charlie Peacock about Christian and mainsteam music art/empire/industry. Click the titlle entitled "untitled" to hear it.

Related, watch U2's Godfather commercial:

"it's not about's about family"

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