The New Republic’s David Hadju blows my mind in this article about the impact today’s societal climate will have on music and how this period in time is remembered…
When all this is over, the economic crisis will take lasting form in the American consciousness as a video montage. The images are already familiar: traders gaping in horror at the Stock Exchange … Paulson testifying before Congress … A foreclosure notice tacked onto a front-porch door … Obama selling the bailout … The Chrysler headquarters posted for sale on Craigslist (well, not really, not yet). It is as easy to envision this string of images as it is to conjure a mental highlight reel of the visual iconography of the Great Depression: the Dust Bowl photography of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, newsreel clips of bread lines and Hooverville shacks–and all of it set to the sound of Rudy Vallee singing “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” What, then, will play on the soundtrack of the montage of the current crisis? What is the music of our meltdown?….
Instead, let us consider a possibility we cannot yet see. If the events of the Great Depression have bearing on our time as precedent, they demonstrate how the collapse of prevailing economic, political, and social structures–the end of a kind of hegemony–cleared the way for historically disenfranchised people, African Americans and others in the underclasses, to give voice to their discontent in creative forms previously held in disrepute. The Depression brought blues to the pop charts and led to the rise of folk and country music.
If new forms (musical or otherwise) emerge from the current meltdown, they might well be ones now held in such low esteem that we cannot begin to take them seriously yet. I do not know what they might be.
Judging by all of the crap on the Billboard 100, I’d settle for Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” (which is actually quite sad).