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OK Boomer

WikiSam_the_Record_Man - milenio stadium

 

As a joke, (I think), my kids like to call me a “boomer”, once in a while, when I rant about the way some things used to be, in comparison to what they’re like today.

This, of course, is not uncommon to the generations. After a certain age, we tend to compare past and present, especially when pining for a lost youth, where real responsibility was something we didn’t really think about or understand. So, today I’m “booming” over the present-day role music plays in people’s lives.

One of my earliest and fondest memories involving music is pushing the mower along my parents’ lawn, on Montrose St., 1973, or so, while from the TV room, the Beatles’ “Revolution” blasted from a ‘45 bought at Honest Ed’s, on my dad’s record player, (mostly distortion, but it didn’t matter). That single made the task at hand seem easy. I was lucky. My dad worked in radio, so there were always plenty of records at home.

Today, I still have every record and cd I ever purchased and even just flipping through them is like glancing through a photo album, evoking all the memories from days gone by. Music is great that way, a perfect catalyst. Today, people have scores of digital files containing music, but they’re just files, without a story or even a memory. Easy to attain, easy to forget.

I wish my kids had the chance to rifle through the records at Sam’s on Yonge, to experience the thrill of being able to see what was out there, old and new. Today, everything you might like is still out there, but you have to do a lot of digital digging. Climbing over all the “suggestions” they have for you and the “something you might like” hurdles can be daunting. The internet can be a difficult place to navigate if you’re not looking for what they want you to find. And it’s not just that, the banality stemming from things that are available from a device in your pocket 24/7 has made us all very dull and individualistic. There’s no thrill of discovery and the effort it took to get there. It’s…convenient and that’s one of today’s worst viruses, infecting us all. In my view, for what it’s worth, of greatest concern is the lack of diversity in mainstream music. In the seventies and eighties there were various clubs in TO where an individual would be dancing to punk, reggae, rock and ska and other genres in succession and enjoying every minute. The range of clubs available was impossible not to love.

Today, it seems Hip Hop and House have taken over the mainstream market. There are plenty of reasons for this, from easy and cheap production costs to the fact that people love to move their bodies to the grooves. It’s all good. But does it inspire? Force you to think? I don’t know. Is it for a good time? Sure, but music is much more than that and labels need to stop taking the easy route, for a change, and promote mainstream diversity, because although most are enjoying today’s mainstream, they could simultaneously be enjoying and being influenced by so many other artists that are actually trying to send a message or tell a story.

The only thing, is that those artists have to be sought and people today have become accustomed to having everything delivered to them, (more convenient). Of course, curbing this tendency would involve the need for labels, on-air radio stations and other music platforms to consider more than profits, which, being corporations with shareholders to answer to, may be an unrealistic goal. In the meantime, all hail the DJ’s and their hypnotic beats, which is, I guess, what people seem to want, to forget.
Fiquem bem.

Raul Freitas/MS

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