Adult culture

Picking up from the music posts last weekend. . . .

Country music draws from the world of adults:  marriage, family, work, church, but also alcoholism, adultery, divorce.  (Country music is not intrinsically more wholesome, though.  It is very frank about sex–premarital, extramarital, but also marital–and is full of bad examples.)

The other popular musical genres–indeed, virtually all of pop culture, including television and the movies–draws from the world of young people:  dating, singleness, play, undefined spirituality, drugs, premarital sex, romantic love, fantasy.  (Notice that on television, virtually everyone even in ostensibly realistic dramas–NCIS, Law & Order, Bones, etc.–is single.)

It was not always this way.  The blues draws on the adult world.  Folk music.  Jazz.  Standards.  The American Songbook.  Classical music back when it was contemporary was made by adults for adults.

It is surely one of the oddest of our current cultural dysfunctions that our popular art and entertainment are largely made for young people.  To be sure, adults own the studios, run the industry, and make most of the money.  But the content and the target audience are largely oriented to adolescent children and single people in their lower 20′s.

One might say that this is just economics, that the entertainment biz caters to whoever will spend money on the product.  But adults, who have far more disposable income than those just starting out, do buy music and other kinds of entertainment.  But they  buy either what the young people are listening to or watching, or the music, styles, and artists they enjoyed when they were adolescents!

Whatever happened to adult culture?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Well, it won’t really change until Mick Jagger starts acting his age (67) instead of hopping around the stage in such a remarkably energetic and agile manner.

  • Pete

    Well, it won’t really change until Mick Jagger starts acting his age (67) instead of hopping around the stage in such a remarkably energetic and agile manner.

  • SKPeterson

    I think it’s still there, but that much of our cultural dilemma (if that’s what it is) is focused on the Boomer generation. They appear to be on a continual quest to avoid growing up, or to retain their youth indefinitely. As a result, pop music is viewed as high art; though some of it may be, much of it is also faddish, derivative, and artistically shallow. As a somewhat confirmative aside, the WSJ had an interesting article on marketing tips for younger people selling goods and services to the ever-aging Boomers: don’t mention growing old, infirmities, or even hint at death. Think young, vibrant, ever green. If and when this sort of Boomer psychology fades into the background adult culture may, may, come back to the fore. I recognize that this characterization of Boomers is not universal, but it does apply to a vast swath, particularly those who work in, produce and distribute musical media.

  • SKPeterson

    I think it’s still there, but that much of our cultural dilemma (if that’s what it is) is focused on the Boomer generation. They appear to be on a continual quest to avoid growing up, or to retain their youth indefinitely. As a result, pop music is viewed as high art; though some of it may be, much of it is also faddish, derivative, and artistically shallow. As a somewhat confirmative aside, the WSJ had an interesting article on marketing tips for younger people selling goods and services to the ever-aging Boomers: don’t mention growing old, infirmities, or even hint at death. Think young, vibrant, ever green. If and when this sort of Boomer psychology fades into the background adult culture may, may, come back to the fore. I recognize that this characterization of Boomers is not universal, but it does apply to a vast swath, particularly those who work in, produce and distribute musical media.

  • Larry Wilson

    Check out The Death of the Grown-Up by Diana West —

  • Larry Wilson

    Check out The Death of the Grown-Up by Diana West —

  • Larry Wilson
  • Larry Wilson
  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Adult culture | Cranach: The Blog of Veith -- Topsy.com

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Adult culture | Cranach: The Blog of Veith -- Topsy.com

  • Tony Sikora

    I wonder if its because our Old Adam doesn’t really want to grow up and be an Adult. Being an adult means responsibility. Responsibility means accountability. The wages of sin is death. What reminds us more about death than growing old? I think our current worship of youth is more about how our “popular” or “common” theology is impacting our culture in ways we didn’t expect. The absence of true and faithful Law and Gospel preaching in the pulpit and teaching in the churches results in a theological vacuum in our culture. That vacuum is filled with that which appears to give or be the sign of life – youth. Then, when youth and adolescence drive everything in culture it eventually finds its way back into the churches via worship. Thus, it’s not so much a boomer thing as it is an Old Adam, theological, law-gospel thing.

  • Tony Sikora

    I wonder if its because our Old Adam doesn’t really want to grow up and be an Adult. Being an adult means responsibility. Responsibility means accountability. The wages of sin is death. What reminds us more about death than growing old? I think our current worship of youth is more about how our “popular” or “common” theology is impacting our culture in ways we didn’t expect. The absence of true and faithful Law and Gospel preaching in the pulpit and teaching in the churches results in a theological vacuum in our culture. That vacuum is filled with that which appears to give or be the sign of life – youth. Then, when youth and adolescence drive everything in culture it eventually finds its way back into the churches via worship. Thus, it’s not so much a boomer thing as it is an Old Adam, theological, law-gospel thing.

  • Tom Hering

    Re: @ 3 & 4. I was sympathetic to the argument Diana West was making when I read her book, The Death of the Grown-Up. But I found the book short on real insight and evidence, and long on superficial complaints. I mean, the West is in decline because men wear sneakers instead of dress shoes? That sort of critique struck me as being a bit, well, adolescent (if not fetishistic).

  • Tom Hering

    Re: @ 3 & 4. I was sympathetic to the argument Diana West was making when I read her book, The Death of the Grown-Up. But I found the book short on real insight and evidence, and long on superficial complaints. I mean, the West is in decline because men wear sneakers instead of dress shoes? That sort of critique struck me as being a bit, well, adolescent (if not fetishistic).

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Could it be that those who grow up realize that television is insanely stupid, and hence they find better things to do with their time? Hence advertisers don’t terribly care what the happily married think–they’re simply not watching.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Could it be that those who grow up realize that television is insanely stupid, and hence they find better things to do with their time? Hence advertisers don’t terribly care what the happily married think–they’re simply not watching.

  • Tom Hering

    Bike @ 7, I know this is anecdotal, but the most avid TV-watchers I know are happily married couples in their 50s. Whereas, for the few young singles I know, TV is just one choice among a number of entertainments. And not always the first choice.

  • Tom Hering

    Bike @ 7, I know this is anecdotal, but the most avid TV-watchers I know are happily married couples in their 50s. Whereas, for the few young singles I know, TV is just one choice among a number of entertainments. And not always the first choice.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yeah, its near the perfect time for a new Lawrence Welk to arise!
    Now THAT guy exemplified adult culture!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yeah, its near the perfect time for a new Lawrence Welk to arise!
    Now THAT guy exemplified adult culture!

  • SKPeterson

    Hee Haw Bryan, Hee Haw.

  • SKPeterson

    Hee Haw Bryan, Hee Haw.

  • Bart

    @ Tom Hering: propriety and manners are what adulthood is all about, or at least to an extent. If you don’t believe me, believe Edmund Burke. Fashions do change, but the cult of the casual, I believe, is destroying us.

  • Bart

    @ Tom Hering: propriety and manners are what adulthood is all about, or at least to an extent. If you don’t believe me, believe Edmund Burke. Fashions do change, but the cult of the casual, I believe, is destroying us.

  • Steve in Toronto

    The world of popular music has ever since the post war baby boom been dominated by the concerns of young people (not just rock but also popular country and vocal jazz) there the one who by the records after all! But one of the few good things that can be said about the aging baby boomer is that as a result there is lots of popular music out there for the middle aged. My favorite folk rocker Richard Thompson has been middle aged since he was 16! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avX5VlU7MXM (1969) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw1ZDzBoUf8 (1982) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyV8gV7HYp4 (2007). Enjoy!

  • Steve in Toronto

    The world of popular music has ever since the post war baby boom been dominated by the concerns of young people (not just rock but also popular country and vocal jazz) there the one who by the records after all! But one of the few good things that can be said about the aging baby boomer is that as a result there is lots of popular music out there for the middle aged. My favorite folk rocker Richard Thompson has been middle aged since he was 16! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avX5VlU7MXM (1969) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw1ZDzBoUf8 (1982) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyV8gV7HYp4 (2007). Enjoy!

  • Tom Hering

    Bart, did our pioneers destroy us by dressing informally? Did our WWII G.I.s when they got a bit slovenly in combat? What about the Israelis? They’ve never been big on wearing ties.

    This is a focus on style rather than substance, and that’s what’s contributing to our decline (such as it is).

  • Tom Hering

    Bart, did our pioneers destroy us by dressing informally? Did our WWII G.I.s when they got a bit slovenly in combat? What about the Israelis? They’ve never been big on wearing ties.

    This is a focus on style rather than substance, and that’s what’s contributing to our decline (such as it is).

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bryan, my grandparents always watched Lawrence Welk, but my parents did not. Nor, of course, did I. But we didn’t like him for different reasons. They were comparing him to the really great big band music of the 1940′s. I was comparing him to the Rolling Stones. They didn’t like him for adult reasons. I didn’t like him for infantile reasons. And I still don’t, miserable aging Baby Boomer that I am, for those same reasons!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bryan, my grandparents always watched Lawrence Welk, but my parents did not. Nor, of course, did I. But we didn’t like him for different reasons. They were comparing him to the really great big band music of the 1940′s. I was comparing him to the Rolling Stones. They didn’t like him for adult reasons. I didn’t like him for infantile reasons. And I still don’t, miserable aging Baby Boomer that I am, for those same reasons!

  • LAJ

    The pioneers weren’t worried about what clothes they wore except on Sunday mornings. Then they put on their best clothes to go to church. It is a proven fact that people behave differently and act differently when they are dressed up.

  • LAJ

    The pioneers weren’t worried about what clothes they wore except on Sunday mornings. Then they put on their best clothes to go to church. It is a proven fact that people behave differently and act differently when they are dressed up.

  • LAJ

    Oops that last statement should have been feel better about themselves when dressed up.

  • LAJ

    Oops that last statement should have been feel better about themselves when dressed up.

  • Bart

    @Tom: Actually, depending on how you look at Jacksonian Democracy, you could say that the sloughing off of manners has destroyed us. This issue, I think, is really explained well in Henry Adams’ novel _Democracy_ where the rough frontier politician wishes to remove all restraints of tradition and propriety for whatever the people say at the moment or for utility.

  • Bart

    @Tom: Actually, depending on how you look at Jacksonian Democracy, you could say that the sloughing off of manners has destroyed us. This issue, I think, is really explained well in Henry Adams’ novel _Democracy_ where the rough frontier politician wishes to remove all restraints of tradition and propriety for whatever the people say at the moment or for utility.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Bike @7 is onto something. Now that I think about it, I haven’t watched a sitcom on TV in many years. That includes Cheers, Frasier and Seinfeld (I’ve never even seen a single episode of the latter two). Not much impressed with most of the modern drama shows either.

    For some reason, I just don’t find those kinds of shows all that funny. Maybe I’m weird. I’m certain that the advertisers on sitcoms aren’t angling for MY business.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Bike @7 is onto something. Now that I think about it, I haven’t watched a sitcom on TV in many years. That includes Cheers, Frasier and Seinfeld (I’ve never even seen a single episode of the latter two). Not much impressed with most of the modern drama shows either.

    For some reason, I just don’t find those kinds of shows all that funny. Maybe I’m weird. I’m certain that the advertisers on sitcoms aren’t angling for MY business.

  • Porcell

    Tom Hering, good warriors hardly get a bit slovenly during combat, unless it is really necessary. That’s why Patton and the best of combat warrior leaders insist on proper dress, discipline, and manners even during the rigors of combat. One sign of a poor combat unit is the slovenly dress of the men. Patton was correct to be appalled at the Cartoonist, Mauldin’s image of G.I. Joe.

    Properly brought up people are well dressed in church and at work.
    In my church most people dress carefully with coats and tie for men and fine dresses for the women. The idea that dress and manners are surface things is a pious, romantic illusion.

    Among the many signs of our largely evil and decadent time are casual dress and poor manners.

  • Porcell

    Tom Hering, good warriors hardly get a bit slovenly during combat, unless it is really necessary. That’s why Patton and the best of combat warrior leaders insist on proper dress, discipline, and manners even during the rigors of combat. One sign of a poor combat unit is the slovenly dress of the men. Patton was correct to be appalled at the Cartoonist, Mauldin’s image of G.I. Joe.

    Properly brought up people are well dressed in church and at work.
    In my church most people dress carefully with coats and tie for men and fine dresses for the women. The idea that dress and manners are surface things is a pious, romantic illusion.

    Among the many signs of our largely evil and decadent time are casual dress and poor manners.

  • Ignorant fisherman

    Thank you, Dr. Veith for pointing out what country music is really all about. There’s nothing “Christian” about it. I would say it’s more “anti-Christ “. I certainly do not want my children listening to it just because it has references to “god” and “church.”
    Just another way of “using God to sing my song”.
    (anyone ever heard of “He Loves Me” by Annie Herring? This is true law/gospel music)

  • Ignorant fisherman

    Thank you, Dr. Veith for pointing out what country music is really all about. There’s nothing “Christian” about it. I would say it’s more “anti-Christ “. I certainly do not want my children listening to it just because it has references to “god” and “church.”
    Just another way of “using God to sing my song”.
    (anyone ever heard of “He Loves Me” by Annie Herring? This is true law/gospel music)

  • steve

    If I can be cynical for a moment: there are plenty of good reasons to target kids and young adults. First, yes, older adults have more disposable income but kids and young adults are more impulse buyers and more easily swayed. Also, advertisers have plenty of incentive to hook people into brand loyalty while they’re still young. Second, a sad and overlooked fact is that there are a lot of people who want to send messages, to change culture, through television, movies and music. Again, young people are more pliable. Who did Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot target to be harbingers of the new movement? Indeed, a recent poll of Russian youth suggests most believe Stalin was a net positive for Russia. And a few months ago I saw that one of the popular songs in Russia today was a song glorifying Putin. More recently, who was marching in Egypt? The youth, of course.

    Marketers and Revolutionaries have long agreed on one thing: the minds of the youth are for sale.

  • steve

    If I can be cynical for a moment: there are plenty of good reasons to target kids and young adults. First, yes, older adults have more disposable income but kids and young adults are more impulse buyers and more easily swayed. Also, advertisers have plenty of incentive to hook people into brand loyalty while they’re still young. Second, a sad and overlooked fact is that there are a lot of people who want to send messages, to change culture, through television, movies and music. Again, young people are more pliable. Who did Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot target to be harbingers of the new movement? Indeed, a recent poll of Russian youth suggests most believe Stalin was a net positive for Russia. And a few months ago I saw that one of the popular songs in Russia today was a song glorifying Putin. More recently, who was marching in Egypt? The youth, of course.

    Marketers and Revolutionaries have long agreed on one thing: the minds of the youth are for sale.

  • steve

    @fisherman, if only Annie Herring’s musical/spiritual descendants were as theologically astute. After 40 years of 30 minute sitcoms and 30 second soundbites, I’m not very optimistic that popular Christian music, let alone popular secular music (which is often much more realistic about our state) will ever be able to be portray real Christianity.

  • steve

    @fisherman, if only Annie Herring’s musical/spiritual descendants were as theologically astute. After 40 years of 30 minute sitcoms and 30 second soundbites, I’m not very optimistic that popular Christian music, let alone popular secular music (which is often much more realistic about our state) will ever be able to be portray real Christianity.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    To put it simply, we put a premium on youth. We advertise all of its advantages (strength, exterior beauty, fun) while downplaying the disadvantages (foolishness, immaturity, impetuousness). It’s LOGAN’S RUN without the executions. And we desperately want to cling to our youth because it’s a fleeting glimmer of immortality that slips through our fingers.

    BTW, Tony @ 5, great pic!!!!!

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    To put it simply, we put a premium on youth. We advertise all of its advantages (strength, exterior beauty, fun) while downplaying the disadvantages (foolishness, immaturity, impetuousness). It’s LOGAN’S RUN without the executions. And we desperately want to cling to our youth because it’s a fleeting glimmer of immortality that slips through our fingers.

    BTW, Tony @ 5, great pic!!!!!

  • HistoryProfBrad

    Pop music as a youth phenomenon goes back to the days of Sinatra in the 1940s, but escalated with the baby boom market of the 50s and 60s. There is good music out there in all styles (even in Christian music, although it is few and far between nowadays). Much of what is Top 40 in any genre tends to be lame, but that has always been the case. E.g.: people remember Creedence’s “Proud Mary” as a great song from 1969, but the number one song of that year was Zager and Evans’ “In the Year 2525.” Which song is better?? :-)

    You can always check out my band Bipolar Echo at http://www.myspace.com/bipolarecho , http://www.reverbnation.com/bipolarecho , or on Facebook. I am a college history prof by trade but do music on the side. It’s heavy rock with lyrics that try to go beyond the juvenile…and we are having some luck with it, too.

    How is that for a shameless plug in the midst of a very serious thread?? :-)

  • HistoryProfBrad

    Pop music as a youth phenomenon goes back to the days of Sinatra in the 1940s, but escalated with the baby boom market of the 50s and 60s. There is good music out there in all styles (even in Christian music, although it is few and far between nowadays). Much of what is Top 40 in any genre tends to be lame, but that has always been the case. E.g.: people remember Creedence’s “Proud Mary” as a great song from 1969, but the number one song of that year was Zager and Evans’ “In the Year 2525.” Which song is better?? :-)

    You can always check out my band Bipolar Echo at http://www.myspace.com/bipolarecho , http://www.reverbnation.com/bipolarecho , or on Facebook. I am a college history prof by trade but do music on the side. It’s heavy rock with lyrics that try to go beyond the juvenile…and we are having some luck with it, too.

    How is that for a shameless plug in the midst of a very serious thread?? :-)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Consider all the folks who don’t really consume pop culture. They don’t watch the shows, buy or listen to the music, etc. Their kids are playing sports, practicing their music, doing their homework, and going to church. They are not social networking unless you count linked-in. These folks are real. I know them. Pop culture dropouts.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Consider all the folks who don’t really consume pop culture. They don’t watch the shows, buy or listen to the music, etc. Their kids are playing sports, practicing their music, doing their homework, and going to church. They are not social networking unless you count linked-in. These folks are real. I know them. Pop culture dropouts.

  • http://holycrossbismarck.org Matt Thompson

    Have you seen The Middle?

  • http://holycrossbismarck.org Matt Thompson

    Have you seen The Middle?

  • Porcell

    “…heavy rock with lyrics that try to go beyond the juvenile” would be a contradiction in terms. Rock from the beginning is a rather crude form of music, however popular. When the history of our decadent time is written, Rock will be among the major symptoms cited. Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.

  • Porcell

    “…heavy rock with lyrics that try to go beyond the juvenile” would be a contradiction in terms. Rock from the beginning is a rather crude form of music, however popular. When the history of our decadent time is written, Rock will be among the major symptoms cited. Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.

  • Rose

    I date the demise of adult culture on tv to Norman Lear: the father as fool, everything serious can be programmed as a comedy (e.g. Maude’s abortion).
    Dr. Veith, I always found it perplexing that Martin Marty was an apologist for Lear. Can you explain why? (e.g. http://www.normanlear.com/spirit_8.html)

  • Rose

    I date the demise of adult culture on tv to Norman Lear: the father as fool, everything serious can be programmed as a comedy (e.g. Maude’s abortion).
    Dr. Veith, I always found it perplexing that Martin Marty was an apologist for Lear. Can you explain why? (e.g. http://www.normanlear.com/spirit_8.html)

  • HistoryProfBrad

    Wow, Porcell. Looks like I struck a nerve. As one who has studied both music and theology, I have yet to understand how anyone can blanket equate a certain musical style as you did here, but so be it. I guess I won’t need to reserve one of my band’s CDs or hold you a seat at one our of shows. :-)

  • HistoryProfBrad

    Wow, Porcell. Looks like I struck a nerve. As one who has studied both music and theology, I have yet to understand how anyone can blanket equate a certain musical style as you did here, but so be it. I guess I won’t need to reserve one of my band’s CDs or hold you a seat at one our of shows. :-)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Rock from the beginning is a rather crude form of music” wrote Porcell, (@27), concluding, “Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.”

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to just write, “I have not actually listened to rock music since the 60s”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Rock from the beginning is a rather crude form of music” wrote Porcell, (@27), concluding, “Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.”

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to just write, “I have not actually listened to rock music since the 60s”?

  • Kristine

    Not sure if I agree with Porcell, but he’s not the only one who thinks that about rock. Anyone ever read The Closing of the American Mind? The name “rock and roll” was originally a slang term for sex, after all. The argument *can be made* (I am not now making it) that an entire genre of music actually is immoral, regardless of the verbal content.

  • Kristine

    Not sure if I agree with Porcell, but he’s not the only one who thinks that about rock. Anyone ever read The Closing of the American Mind? The name “rock and roll” was originally a slang term for sex, after all. The argument *can be made* (I am not now making it) that an entire genre of music actually is immoral, regardless of the verbal content.

  • Porcell

    Kristine, one hardly needs to read Bloom on the barbarism of Rock to understand its crudity. A few years back my daughter, a physician, dragged me to a Grateful Dead concert in a futile attempt to overcome my loathing of Rock. My only conclusion was that my daughter’s generation had gone mad. I remembered a professor of Greek philosophy, Demos, who explained Plato’s view that excess rhythm and melody combined with dance destroyed any hope for reason or philosophy. I should, say, also, of any serious Christianity.

    Bloom with The Closing of the American Mind was rather correct in his chapter on music, including the following:

    The Rock business is perfect capitalism, supplying to demand and helping to create it. It has all the moral dignity of drug trafficking, but it was so totally new and unexpected that nobody thought to control it, and now it is too late. Progress may be made against cigarette smoking because our absence of standards or our relativism does not extend to matters of bodily health. In all other things the market determine the value. (Yoko Ono is among America’s small group of billionaires, along with oil and computer magnates, her late husband having sold a commodity of worth comparable to theirs.) Rock is a very big business, bigger than the movies… and this accounts for much of the respectability of the music business.

    Meanwhile, Todd, who amusingly claims great rationality, and our supposed history professor apparently get off on such barbarity. Western Civilization, that produced Bach’s B Minor Mass and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, has reduced itself to the jocular absurdity of Rock. As Bloom pointed out in his 1987 book, all but a few of college students prefer rock to classical music. No wonder that America has few grownups.

  • Porcell

    Kristine, one hardly needs to read Bloom on the barbarism of Rock to understand its crudity. A few years back my daughter, a physician, dragged me to a Grateful Dead concert in a futile attempt to overcome my loathing of Rock. My only conclusion was that my daughter’s generation had gone mad. I remembered a professor of Greek philosophy, Demos, who explained Plato’s view that excess rhythm and melody combined with dance destroyed any hope for reason or philosophy. I should, say, also, of any serious Christianity.

    Bloom with The Closing of the American Mind was rather correct in his chapter on music, including the following:

    The Rock business is perfect capitalism, supplying to demand and helping to create it. It has all the moral dignity of drug trafficking, but it was so totally new and unexpected that nobody thought to control it, and now it is too late. Progress may be made against cigarette smoking because our absence of standards or our relativism does not extend to matters of bodily health. In all other things the market determine the value. (Yoko Ono is among America’s small group of billionaires, along with oil and computer magnates, her late husband having sold a commodity of worth comparable to theirs.) Rock is a very big business, bigger than the movies… and this accounts for much of the respectability of the music business.

    Meanwhile, Todd, who amusingly claims great rationality, and our supposed history professor apparently get off on such barbarity. Western Civilization, that produced Bach’s B Minor Mass and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, has reduced itself to the jocular absurdity of Rock. As Bloom pointed out in his 1987 book, all but a few of college students prefer rock to classical music. No wonder that America has few grownups.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Porcell, with a few exceptions, I’m not a great fan of Rock either. (I do like rocks, though, but that is another matter – I’m not a Rocker, but in other terms, I’m a Hard rocker.. sorry, inside joke)

    But Rock grew from Jazz, and it’s fairly simple rhythm can be used to great artistic affect. Witness something like “Hotel California”, by The Eagles. I have yet to meet a professional Classical Musician which agrees with your analysis of Rock. However, some forms of modern pop are the abolute pits, being completely commercial, with no artistic merit, not in any sense – witness the Bieber phenomenon.

    One should remember that a lot of classical music was quite revolutionary for it’s day, and Bolero caused a riot in Paris at it’s first performance. Neither was overt sexuality unknown – women fought each other to tear out the upholstery of the chairs that Liszt sat on, for another example.

    While a large portion of rock might have little artisitc merit, at least to my taste, I would be loth to condemn the whole enterprise as you have done.

    For the record, personally my taste is Classical and Jazz, with some exceptions.

    In my opinion the closing of the American mind (if I may have an opinion on such a matter) has more to do with Disneyfication, Oprahfication, McCarthyism and “Frontier” religion, couple with the Commercialisation of all of those.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Porcell, with a few exceptions, I’m not a great fan of Rock either. (I do like rocks, though, but that is another matter – I’m not a Rocker, but in other terms, I’m a Hard rocker.. sorry, inside joke)

    But Rock grew from Jazz, and it’s fairly simple rhythm can be used to great artistic affect. Witness something like “Hotel California”, by The Eagles. I have yet to meet a professional Classical Musician which agrees with your analysis of Rock. However, some forms of modern pop are the abolute pits, being completely commercial, with no artistic merit, not in any sense – witness the Bieber phenomenon.

    One should remember that a lot of classical music was quite revolutionary for it’s day, and Bolero caused a riot in Paris at it’s first performance. Neither was overt sexuality unknown – women fought each other to tear out the upholstery of the chairs that Liszt sat on, for another example.

    While a large portion of rock might have little artisitc merit, at least to my taste, I would be loth to condemn the whole enterprise as you have done.

    For the record, personally my taste is Classical and Jazz, with some exceptions.

    In my opinion the closing of the American mind (if I may have an opinion on such a matter) has more to do with Disneyfication, Oprahfication, McCarthyism and “Frontier” religion, couple with the Commercialisation of all of those.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It is quite true, Porcell (@32), that “one hardly needs to read Bloom on the barbarism of Rock to understand its crudity”. But I do sort of expect you to know what you’re talking about, all the same, before you make such a ridiculous, and ridiculously sweeping, conclusion.

    I do think that it’s a bit humorous (and a bit telling) that you replied to my goad “Wouldn’t it have been easier to just write, ‘I have not actually listened to rock music since the 60s’?” with a defense that included a story of your attending a concert of a band that came to fame … in the 60s.

    “A few years back my daughter, a physician, dragged me to a Grateful Dead concert…” Yes, well, the Dead haven’t played a concert in over 16 years, so it was more than a few years ago, wasn’t it? And I don’t know why anyone would think that the Greatful Dead, of all bands, would help anyone overcome their self-proclaimed “loathing of Rock”.

    Suffice to say, Peter, that you are speaking out of deep ignorance on this topic, attempting to draw absurd moral, philosophical, and theological conclusions from your own preferences. Which is your wont.

    And I say all this while listening, at present, to Haydn’s Horn Concerto No. 2 on my local classical station, which is what we usually listen to at my house (I was trained classically on the oboe and percussion).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It is quite true, Porcell (@32), that “one hardly needs to read Bloom on the barbarism of Rock to understand its crudity”. But I do sort of expect you to know what you’re talking about, all the same, before you make such a ridiculous, and ridiculously sweeping, conclusion.

    I do think that it’s a bit humorous (and a bit telling) that you replied to my goad “Wouldn’t it have been easier to just write, ‘I have not actually listened to rock music since the 60s’?” with a defense that included a story of your attending a concert of a band that came to fame … in the 60s.

    “A few years back my daughter, a physician, dragged me to a Grateful Dead concert…” Yes, well, the Dead haven’t played a concert in over 16 years, so it was more than a few years ago, wasn’t it? And I don’t know why anyone would think that the Greatful Dead, of all bands, would help anyone overcome their self-proclaimed “loathing of Rock”.

    Suffice to say, Peter, that you are speaking out of deep ignorance on this topic, attempting to draw absurd moral, philosophical, and theological conclusions from your own preferences. Which is your wont.

    And I say all this while listening, at present, to Haydn’s Horn Concerto No. 2 on my local classical station, which is what we usually listen to at my house (I was trained classically on the oboe and percussion).

  • Porcell

    So, Todd, do explain just how rock music has essentially changed since The Grateful Dead in a way that refutes Alan Bloom’s point that rock is rather barbaric form of contemporary music. Though, I don’t listen to such trash, like Bloom, I’m well aware of its continuing decadent influence.

  • Porcell

    So, Todd, do explain just how rock music has essentially changed since The Grateful Dead in a way that refutes Alan Bloom’s point that rock is rather barbaric form of contemporary music. Though, I don’t listen to such trash, like Bloom, I’m well aware of its continuing decadent influence.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@35), anyone who’s managed to convince himself that he knows everything he needs to about an entire genre of music based on one concert experience and a book isn’t likely to be dissuaded, no matter what I say. Anyhow, it’s not like you actually respect me. You want to believe that rock is crude and beneath you, indicative of so much that’s wrong with society — after all, it’s not the cultural form you’ve chosen. Oh, if only society could be like you!

    If you wanted to learn something about rock, I seriously doubt you’d make such sweeping conclusions based on so little knowledge. Giving you counterexamples, no matter how many, to be brushed away with a sniff and a wave of your hand would merely waste both of our time.

    “Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.” Honestly, it’s like you think all rock has the same “rhythm”. That’s as facile as thinking the same of all jazz and all classical.

    I’ve been to plenty of rock concerts that were less emotional, sexual, and raucous than, say, the premiere of Bizet’s Carmen or the Rite of Spring. But I make that argument from actual knowledge (and appreciation) of those works and their history. You, on the other hand, revel in your ignorance and elitism. Why should I rob you of that?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@35), anyone who’s managed to convince himself that he knows everything he needs to about an entire genre of music based on one concert experience and a book isn’t likely to be dissuaded, no matter what I say. Anyhow, it’s not like you actually respect me. You want to believe that rock is crude and beneath you, indicative of so much that’s wrong with society — after all, it’s not the cultural form you’ve chosen. Oh, if only society could be like you!

    If you wanted to learn something about rock, I seriously doubt you’d make such sweeping conclusions based on so little knowledge. Giving you counterexamples, no matter how many, to be brushed away with a sniff and a wave of your hand would merely waste both of our time.

    “Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.” Honestly, it’s like you think all rock has the same “rhythm”. That’s as facile as thinking the same of all jazz and all classical.

    I’ve been to plenty of rock concerts that were less emotional, sexual, and raucous than, say, the premiere of Bizet’s Carmen or the Rite of Spring. But I make that argument from actual knowledge (and appreciation) of those works and their history. You, on the other hand, revel in your ignorance and elitism. Why should I rob you of that?

  • Porcell

    Louis, at 33, Bloom’s book, far from assailing such a trifle as Disney, remarks upon the corruption of the American Mind brought about by the Left during the Sixties. The two key chapters are The German Connection in which he argues that Kant, Feurbach, Hegel, Nietsche, et al undermined the confidence of the Western Mind; and The Nietzsscheanization of the Left or Vice Versa that explains the present American postmodern parlous stance of nihilism.

  • Porcell

    Louis, at 33, Bloom’s book, far from assailing such a trifle as Disney, remarks upon the corruption of the American Mind brought about by the Left during the Sixties. The two key chapters are The German Connection in which he argues that Kant, Feurbach, Hegel, Nietsche, et al undermined the confidence of the Western Mind; and The Nietzsscheanization of the Left or Vice Versa that explains the present American postmodern parlous stance of nihilism.

  • Porcell

    Todd, Carmen and The Rite of Spring are serious musical works that will last, while, at best, even the Beatle’s music will likely prove ephemeral. Classical musical audiences, even with such a work as Carmen, hardly make fools of themselves in the way that I observed at that Grateful Dead concert.

    I regularly attend Friday afternoon Boston Symphony concerts and often go to New York for Metropolitan Opera concerts. While audiences at these concerts at most will give an enthusiastic standing ovation, this doesn’t come close to the near orgiastic responses at decadent rock concerts.

    You actually prove Bloom’s introductory point in his chapter on music that …students do not have books, they most emphatically have music. Nothing is more singular about this generatio than its addiction to music..

  • Porcell

    Todd, Carmen and The Rite of Spring are serious musical works that will last, while, at best, even the Beatle’s music will likely prove ephemeral. Classical musical audiences, even with such a work as Carmen, hardly make fools of themselves in the way that I observed at that Grateful Dead concert.

    I regularly attend Friday afternoon Boston Symphony concerts and often go to New York for Metropolitan Opera concerts. While audiences at these concerts at most will give an enthusiastic standing ovation, this doesn’t come close to the near orgiastic responses at decadent rock concerts.

    You actually prove Bloom’s introductory point in his chapter on music that …students do not have books, they most emphatically have music. Nothing is more singular about this generatio than its addiction to music..

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Carmen and The Rite of Spring are serious musical works that will last, while, at best, even the Beatle’s music will likely prove ephemeral.”

    A couple days ago, I was trying to find a youtube video of my favorite rendering of Habanera from Carmen. So, I had to look at a bunch of them while the kids ate breakfast. They got hooked and kept humming it all day. Pretty cute and funny.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Carmen and The Rite of Spring are serious musical works that will last, while, at best, even the Beatle’s music will likely prove ephemeral.”

    A couple days ago, I was trying to find a youtube video of my favorite rendering of Habanera from Carmen. So, I had to look at a bunch of them while the kids ate breakfast. They got hooked and kept humming it all day. Pretty cute and funny.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The two key chapters are The German Connection in which he argues that Kant, Feurbach, Hegel, Nietsche, et al undermined the confidence of the Western Mind;”

    Kant? really? I don’t see him as quite so much the same as those others.

    Nietzsche was a sort of necessary evil in that he articulated the evil philosophy that some of our fellow beings actually operate under, unfortunately. Much as we don’t like what he said, it seems he got it out in the open and exposed it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The two key chapters are The German Connection in which he argues that Kant, Feurbach, Hegel, Nietsche, et al undermined the confidence of the Western Mind;”

    Kant? really? I don’t see him as quite so much the same as those others.

    Nietzsche was a sort of necessary evil in that he articulated the evil philosophy that some of our fellow beings actually operate under, unfortunately. Much as we don’t like what he said, it seems he got it out in the open and exposed it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “women fought each other to tear out the upholstery of the chairs that Liszt sat on, for another example.”

    Too bad they didn’t have youtube to preserve such a spectacle for posterity.

    LOL

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “women fought each other to tear out the upholstery of the chairs that Liszt sat on, for another example.”

    Too bad they didn’t have youtube to preserve such a spectacle for posterity.

    LOL

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.”

    Yeah, that’s what I liked about it. Not proud of that, but hey, its the truth.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.”

    Yeah, that’s what I liked about it. Not proud of that, but hey, its the truth.

  • Kristine

    It’s been like 8 or 10 years since I read Allen Bloom, but as I remember, his point is that rock music tends to engage the baser appetites, which is dangerous for civilization as a whole. One of his proofs, as I recall, is that people tend to outgrow rock. It tends to be disliked by children, loved by adolescents, and gradually neglected as one gets older. I think this is partly true. (It’s been true for me – I’m 28.) True or not, Bloom’s argument does dovetail with this blog topic: generations (younger boomers and gen x) who have refused to grow out of rock have also, in many ways, refused to grow up at all.

  • Kristine

    It’s been like 8 or 10 years since I read Allen Bloom, but as I remember, his point is that rock music tends to engage the baser appetites, which is dangerous for civilization as a whole. One of his proofs, as I recall, is that people tend to outgrow rock. It tends to be disliked by children, loved by adolescents, and gradually neglected as one gets older. I think this is partly true. (It’s been true for me – I’m 28.) True or not, Bloom’s argument does dovetail with this blog topic: generations (younger boomers and gen x) who have refused to grow out of rock have also, in many ways, refused to grow up at all.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “who have refused to grow out of rock have also, in many ways, refused to grow up at all.”

    Not sure they are refusing to grow up per se. I see the infantilizing pressures as external. Youth generally want to grow up. It is the older adults that keep telling them they are not ready to ________. And tell them that they need to find themselves first before they ________. Good book on this topic, The Case Against Adolescence by Epstein. It can’t be read altogether uncritically, but it makes many good points, mainly that we are training kids to stay kids rather than the phenomenon being caused by the youth.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “who have refused to grow out of rock have also, in many ways, refused to grow up at all.”

    Not sure they are refusing to grow up per se. I see the infantilizing pressures as external. Youth generally want to grow up. It is the older adults that keep telling them they are not ready to ________. And tell them that they need to find themselves first before they ________. Good book on this topic, The Case Against Adolescence by Epstein. It can’t be read altogether uncritically, but it makes many good points, mainly that we are training kids to stay kids rather than the phenomenon being caused by the youth.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@38), “Carmen and The Rite of Spring are serious musical works that will last, while, at best, even the Beatle’s music will likely prove ephemeral.” I’d take you up on a bet, but you won’t be around to pay me. Suffice to say that the Beatles remain popular almost a half-decade after their time — far more popular than either the Rite of Spring and Carmen right now, the former of which is only a century old — and will almost certainly remain so. But hey, you read one book from 1987 that tells you I’m wrong.

    And your double standards are glaring, in addition to your shocking ignorance as to rock music, even as you decry it (but hey, you read a book once). You call Carmen a “serious musical work”, even as you ignore its overtly sexual themes, while you decry rock’s “crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics”. So soldiers murdering their promiscuous Gypsy lovers somehow counts as “serious”, but Eleanor Rigsby is all tawdry and makes people want to have sex. Gotcha.

    Oh, and what of Rite of Spring, which has a “blatantly sexual rhythm” to rival that of any rock song? To say nothing of the fact that it’s a depiction of pagan fertility rites involving human sacrifice. Yes, of course you think that’s more “serious”, more “moral” than anything in the Beatles catalog. Oh, the “barbarism of Rock”!

    “Classical musical audiences, even with such a work as Carmen, hardly make fools of themselves in the way that I observed at that Grateful Dead concert.” Honestly, Porcell, do they not have encyclopedias in Boston? There were fistfights at the premiere of Rite of Spring! Which then devolved into a riot, necessitating the police to intervene, and they were only somewhat capable of calming the crowd.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about — certainly when it comes to rock music, and quite obviously with regard to at least those two classical works — yet you’ve convinced yourself otherwise by having read one (1) 20-year-old book on contemporary music and laughably attended one (1) concert.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@38), “Carmen and The Rite of Spring are serious musical works that will last, while, at best, even the Beatle’s music will likely prove ephemeral.” I’d take you up on a bet, but you won’t be around to pay me. Suffice to say that the Beatles remain popular almost a half-decade after their time — far more popular than either the Rite of Spring and Carmen right now, the former of which is only a century old — and will almost certainly remain so. But hey, you read one book from 1987 that tells you I’m wrong.

    And your double standards are glaring, in addition to your shocking ignorance as to rock music, even as you decry it (but hey, you read a book once). You call Carmen a “serious musical work”, even as you ignore its overtly sexual themes, while you decry rock’s “crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics”. So soldiers murdering their promiscuous Gypsy lovers somehow counts as “serious”, but Eleanor Rigsby is all tawdry and makes people want to have sex. Gotcha.

    Oh, and what of Rite of Spring, which has a “blatantly sexual rhythm” to rival that of any rock song? To say nothing of the fact that it’s a depiction of pagan fertility rites involving human sacrifice. Yes, of course you think that’s more “serious”, more “moral” than anything in the Beatles catalog. Oh, the “barbarism of Rock”!

    “Classical musical audiences, even with such a work as Carmen, hardly make fools of themselves in the way that I observed at that Grateful Dead concert.” Honestly, Porcell, do they not have encyclopedias in Boston? There were fistfights at the premiere of Rite of Spring! Which then devolved into a riot, necessitating the police to intervene, and they were only somewhat capable of calming the crowd.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about — certainly when it comes to rock music, and quite obviously with regard to at least those two classical works — yet you’ve convinced yourself otherwise by having read one (1) 20-year-old book on contemporary music and laughably attended one (1) concert.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Todd, don’t confuse people with the facts! :)

    If the instrumentation etc. of a Rock performance grates against the senses (and I often fall in that class, as previously admitted), a Classical rendition of the same piece serves to illustrate the beauty of the original in a better way to the uninitiated. A good example would be some Classical renditions of such Beatle Classics as Yellow Submarine by the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic: http://www.berliner-philharmoniker.de/en/berliner-philharmoniker/chamber-music-groups/ensemble/ensemble/die-12-cellisten-der-berliner-philharmoniker/
    Listening to such would open your ears to the internal structures and beauties of a piece of Rock.

    Incidentally, I detest Hip-Hop, but on Monday night, while taking my daughter to flute lessons (!), the CBC announced the death of a Montreal Hip-Hop artist named Bad News Brown. They then played a single from his only album, where combined Harmonica with Hip-Hop rhythms – it was quite extraordinary.

    At times, Porcell (but only at times ;) ) it pays to put aside once prejudices.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Todd, don’t confuse people with the facts! :)

    If the instrumentation etc. of a Rock performance grates against the senses (and I often fall in that class, as previously admitted), a Classical rendition of the same piece serves to illustrate the beauty of the original in a better way to the uninitiated. A good example would be some Classical renditions of such Beatle Classics as Yellow Submarine by the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic: http://www.berliner-philharmoniker.de/en/berliner-philharmoniker/chamber-music-groups/ensemble/ensemble/die-12-cellisten-der-berliner-philharmoniker/
    Listening to such would open your ears to the internal structures and beauties of a piece of Rock.

    Incidentally, I detest Hip-Hop, but on Monday night, while taking my daughter to flute lessons (!), the CBC announced the death of a Montreal Hip-Hop artist named Bad News Brown. They then played a single from his only album, where combined Harmonica with Hip-Hop rhythms – it was quite extraordinary.

    At times, Porcell (but only at times ;) ) it pays to put aside once prejudices.

  • Porcell

    Todd, one need not attend rock concerts to know what’s going on in the field. Also, the character of those Rite of Spring riots was quite distinct from that of rock concerts displays of emotion in that most of the audience rejected the new form of music, as opposed to the, heated emotional approval of rock idols. Personally over the years, I’ve never at a classical music concert seen a base display of emotion, either by the performers or the audience, such as that at the Grateful Dead concert.

    Prof. Bloom likely attended no or at best few rock concerts, though his work,The Closing of the American Mind is regarded by many serious scholars as an American classic, including the chapter that justly condemns rock music. The fact that you refer to the book as mere out of date twenty-year old book is rather revealing of your naivete. In this thread, you’ve not answered either my or Prof. Bloom’s criticisms of rock; instead you keep harping on my lack of experience of rock.

    Fortunately the thread is blessed with sg’s perceptive honesty as follows:

    “Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.”

    Yeah, that’s what I liked about it. Not proud of that, but hey, it’s the truth.

  • Porcell

    Todd, one need not attend rock concerts to know what’s going on in the field. Also, the character of those Rite of Spring riots was quite distinct from that of rock concerts displays of emotion in that most of the audience rejected the new form of music, as opposed to the, heated emotional approval of rock idols. Personally over the years, I’ve never at a classical music concert seen a base display of emotion, either by the performers or the audience, such as that at the Grateful Dead concert.

    Prof. Bloom likely attended no or at best few rock concerts, though his work,The Closing of the American Mind is regarded by many serious scholars as an American classic, including the chapter that justly condemns rock music. The fact that you refer to the book as mere out of date twenty-year old book is rather revealing of your naivete. In this thread, you’ve not answered either my or Prof. Bloom’s criticisms of rock; instead you keep harping on my lack of experience of rock.

    Fortunately the thread is blessed with sg’s perceptive honesty as follows:

    “Its crude, blatantly sexual rhythm, mostly emotional lyrics, and raucous performance lack aesthetic and moral distinction.”

    Yeah, that’s what I liked about it. Not proud of that, but hey, it’s the truth.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Porcell:

    On the rite of Spring (from here: http://www.classicalnotes.net/classics/rite.html)

    Anticipations for the delayed premiere of The Rite continued to rise. At last the fateful night of May 29, 1913 arrived.

    The first two minutes apparently went well, with the audience enthralled by the haunting introduction. But then, the astringent brutality of the first scene broke through as, in Stravinsky’s words: “the curtain rose on a group of knock-kneed and long-braided Lolitas jumping up and down.” The subject itself was scandalous: instead of the fanciful amorous stuff of fluffy ballet dreams, ugly pagans sacrifice a maiden to propitiate the gods of spring. The choreography, costumes and sets boldly dispensed with grace and beauty to emphasize awkward, primitive starkness. At first there were a few boos and catcalls, but then a storm broke as the outraged audience reacted by yelling and fighting. Diaghilev tried to quell the disturbance by switching the house lights on and off while Nijinski tried to sustain the performance as best he could by shouting out numbers and cues to the dancers, who couldn’t hear the music, loud as it was, over the din. Stravinsky was furious and stormed out of the theater before police arrived to end the show.

    Then, I would also suggest you saty away from the raunchy, debauced composition, Carmina Burana. :)

    Of course, to move away from music per se, violence, decadence, and immorality are hardly the preserve of modern, immature culture – have you ever read Chaucer? The Canterbury Tales would certainly get an ‘R’ rating.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Porcell:

    On the rite of Spring (from here: http://www.classicalnotes.net/classics/rite.html)

    Anticipations for the delayed premiere of The Rite continued to rise. At last the fateful night of May 29, 1913 arrived.

    The first two minutes apparently went well, with the audience enthralled by the haunting introduction. But then, the astringent brutality of the first scene broke through as, in Stravinsky’s words: “the curtain rose on a group of knock-kneed and long-braided Lolitas jumping up and down.” The subject itself was scandalous: instead of the fanciful amorous stuff of fluffy ballet dreams, ugly pagans sacrifice a maiden to propitiate the gods of spring. The choreography, costumes and sets boldly dispensed with grace and beauty to emphasize awkward, primitive starkness. At first there were a few boos and catcalls, but then a storm broke as the outraged audience reacted by yelling and fighting. Diaghilev tried to quell the disturbance by switching the house lights on and off while Nijinski tried to sustain the performance as best he could by shouting out numbers and cues to the dancers, who couldn’t hear the music, loud as it was, over the din. Stravinsky was furious and stormed out of the theater before police arrived to end the show.

    Then, I would also suggest you saty away from the raunchy, debauced composition, Carmina Burana. :)

    Of course, to move away from music per se, violence, decadence, and immorality are hardly the preserve of modern, immature culture – have you ever read Chaucer? The Canterbury Tales would certainly get an ‘R’ rating.

  • Kristine

    The Closing of the American Mind is not “a book on contemporary music.”

    I guess you could always ask the question the other way around. If all rock disappeared overnight, would society be better off or worse off?

  • Kristine

    The Closing of the American Mind is not “a book on contemporary music.”

    I guess you could always ask the question the other way around. If all rock disappeared overnight, would society be better off or worse off?

  • HistoryProfBrad

    I would like to say a few more things on this topic, even though I am only a “supposed history professor.” I should also mention that I have a degree in music as well, and spent more than enough time with the likes of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, etc. At the same time, I am well acquainted with the history of rock music, including its connections to country, blues, jazz, and yes…GOSPEL music. I am not some fanboy neophyte who has not wrestled with these questions, yet…oh well, what is the use here? I think to attribute to rock music the downfall of a civilization is uninformed oversimplification at best and blatant ignorance at worst.

    Even then, Porcell, I don’t know who made you ever think that the Grateful Dead represented what rock music is like. The point being, rock, like other forms of artistic expression, is much more diverse than you contentedly believe. Some of it is garbage and some of it is great, and I would attribute such a standard on the basis of lyrical content. Based on your Bill Gothardized view of the evil backbeat, however, I guess even instrumental rock would be a defiling influence.

    Sorry, I have to run. I am off to teach a supposed history class on Colonial America.

    Ciao…

  • HistoryProfBrad

    I would like to say a few more things on this topic, even though I am only a “supposed history professor.” I should also mention that I have a degree in music as well, and spent more than enough time with the likes of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, etc. At the same time, I am well acquainted with the history of rock music, including its connections to country, blues, jazz, and yes…GOSPEL music. I am not some fanboy neophyte who has not wrestled with these questions, yet…oh well, what is the use here? I think to attribute to rock music the downfall of a civilization is uninformed oversimplification at best and blatant ignorance at worst.

    Even then, Porcell, I don’t know who made you ever think that the Grateful Dead represented what rock music is like. The point being, rock, like other forms of artistic expression, is much more diverse than you contentedly believe. Some of it is garbage and some of it is great, and I would attribute such a standard on the basis of lyrical content. Based on your Bill Gothardized view of the evil backbeat, however, I guess even instrumental rock would be a defiling influence.

    Sorry, I have to run. I am off to teach a supposed history class on Colonial America.

    Ciao…

  • Stephen

    I will put my highly regarded Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck and a whole lot of other ROCK AND ROLL albums up against Porcell’s highly regarded one book any day. The Grateful Dead are bunch of lame hippies. Did I mention I like Jeff Beck? not all the time, and even less so these days, but every once in a while he’s the ticket. Great when I go for a run. Wasn’t he one of the four evangelists of the electric guitar? Yes, that’s right. They are:

    Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton (when he was in Cream). Every one of them will be regarded as an artist who explored a new genre and a new instrument that will remain a fascination into the future.

    All that said, I liked some of what Tony said all the way back at post #5. Popular culture seems to be the driving force behind the worship styles of the megachurch phenomenon, and popular culture is largely youth culture.

    However, let’s not forget that “Jazz” also connotes something very sexual and was essentially party music initially. It derived from the Blues, which is the music of the roadhouse (for adults) and that gave birth to Rock and Roll. Big band and swing was dance and party music for adults during WWII. Nothing all that “polite” going on there – lots of drinking and carousing.

    American music, like its people, is way too rich to make blanket statements about any one particular style anyway. That’s just silly.

  • Stephen

    I will put my highly regarded Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck and a whole lot of other ROCK AND ROLL albums up against Porcell’s highly regarded one book any day. The Grateful Dead are bunch of lame hippies. Did I mention I like Jeff Beck? not all the time, and even less so these days, but every once in a while he’s the ticket. Great when I go for a run. Wasn’t he one of the four evangelists of the electric guitar? Yes, that’s right. They are:

    Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton (when he was in Cream). Every one of them will be regarded as an artist who explored a new genre and a new instrument that will remain a fascination into the future.

    All that said, I liked some of what Tony said all the way back at post #5. Popular culture seems to be the driving force behind the worship styles of the megachurch phenomenon, and popular culture is largely youth culture.

    However, let’s not forget that “Jazz” also connotes something very sexual and was essentially party music initially. It derived from the Blues, which is the music of the roadhouse (for adults) and that gave birth to Rock and Roll. Big band and swing was dance and party music for adults during WWII. Nothing all that “polite” going on there – lots of drinking and carousing.

    American music, like its people, is way too rich to make blanket statements about any one particular style anyway. That’s just silly.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@47), “one need not attend rock concerts to know what’s going on in the field.” Indeed, in Porcell’s case, one need only read a book to learn everything one needs to know about an entire genre of music! If only everyone else could learn so much from so little information!

    “You’ve not answered either my or Prof. Bloom’s criticisms of rock.” That’s because they’re almost all ridiculous, and anyone who listens to rock — which obviously doesn’t include you — knows it. You might with equal reasonableness demand that I respond seriously to your claim that you know for a fact that elephants can fly because you recently saw Dumbo.

    “Fortunately the thread is blessed with sg’s perceptive honesty”. Translation: look, here is someone whose comment agrees with my opinions that are based largely on personal preference, limited experience, and cultural elitism, so I will listen to her, but ignore anyone who disagrees with me. There are none so ignorant as those who will not learn, Porcell.

    As for classical concerts, if you’re as familiar with them as you claim to be (not that that’s any guarantee, obviously), you know that classical music has been relegated to a polite museum piece. It long ago ceased to be relevant to the average person — sort of like Shakespeare — and instead has become something that the well-heeled attend because that’s what people like them do.

    The best classical music still very much stirs up the emotions, but you’re not actually allowed to show that at today’s concerts, or else the man who paid too much for his tickets will get really upset and stare at you. I have danced, bopped, and sung along to Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances — which, at its best, rivals the bombast of any metal tune — but of course I have done so at home. Because the society members who have paid to see and be seen would rather not see someone enjoying themselves to music of which they are themselves largely ignorant.

    Rare is the audience member, in my experience, at a classical concert who actually avoids the most rote of prescribed behaviors, including the truly hackneyed standing ovation at the end of Every. Concert. Ever. Because these people no longer know which performances are truly outstanding. But they want to imagine that it’s the one they’ve attended. Like I said, a museum piece, a staid ritual.

    Which is too bad, because the music is often quite moving.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@47), “one need not attend rock concerts to know what’s going on in the field.” Indeed, in Porcell’s case, one need only read a book to learn everything one needs to know about an entire genre of music! If only everyone else could learn so much from so little information!

    “You’ve not answered either my or Prof. Bloom’s criticisms of rock.” That’s because they’re almost all ridiculous, and anyone who listens to rock — which obviously doesn’t include you — knows it. You might with equal reasonableness demand that I respond seriously to your claim that you know for a fact that elephants can fly because you recently saw Dumbo.

    “Fortunately the thread is blessed with sg’s perceptive honesty”. Translation: look, here is someone whose comment agrees with my opinions that are based largely on personal preference, limited experience, and cultural elitism, so I will listen to her, but ignore anyone who disagrees with me. There are none so ignorant as those who will not learn, Porcell.

    As for classical concerts, if you’re as familiar with them as you claim to be (not that that’s any guarantee, obviously), you know that classical music has been relegated to a polite museum piece. It long ago ceased to be relevant to the average person — sort of like Shakespeare — and instead has become something that the well-heeled attend because that’s what people like them do.

    The best classical music still very much stirs up the emotions, but you’re not actually allowed to show that at today’s concerts, or else the man who paid too much for his tickets will get really upset and stare at you. I have danced, bopped, and sung along to Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances — which, at its best, rivals the bombast of any metal tune — but of course I have done so at home. Because the society members who have paid to see and be seen would rather not see someone enjoying themselves to music of which they are themselves largely ignorant.

    Rare is the audience member, in my experience, at a classical concert who actually avoids the most rote of prescribed behaviors, including the truly hackneyed standing ovation at the end of Every. Concert. Ever. Because these people no longer know which performances are truly outstanding. But they want to imagine that it’s the one they’ve attended. Like I said, a museum piece, a staid ritual.

    Which is too bad, because the music is often quite moving.

  • Stephen

    Todd -

    That pretty much describes the large portion of my experiences with classical concerts – big let down. And yes, always an ovation which I am duty-bound to participate in. I have, however, been to the opera once (once!) and I was absolutely floored. But the price of the tickets to these sorts of things scares me away when my experience with orchestra/symphony performances has been so incredibly mixed. And I have been to them in San Francisco, Dallas, Minneapolis, LA, and a few other places, everything from small to large to semi-pro to professional.

    I guess you could make the case that it is much more difficult to get all those people firing on all cylinders together, or they don’t make conductors like they used to, or that they do not know how to select music that fits into a program that keeps one’s interest. I’m not an expert. Something is missing, or at least it seems like a big roll of the dice, and like you say, a museum (or mausoleum) piece.

    I rarely go to concerts anymore, but it is usually the case that when I got to see some big name act, or even a minor one that tours regularly, it’s fairly certain they will have it together and they will put on a show, the music will be not just good but the players will wear themselves out trying to give it. There is a jazz guitarist I have seen several times over the span of 25 years and he never fails to burn it up. He brings both new technology to bear on what he does as well as incredibly solo guitar work in every concert. He tours about 100-200 dates in any given year with a band and they NEVER miss.

    Oh yeah, and some of it is loud and he rocks too! Here’s Pat Metheny playing guitar all by himself:

  • Stephen

    Todd -

    That pretty much describes the large portion of my experiences with classical concerts – big let down. And yes, always an ovation which I am duty-bound to participate in. I have, however, been to the opera once (once!) and I was absolutely floored. But the price of the tickets to these sorts of things scares me away when my experience with orchestra/symphony performances has been so incredibly mixed. And I have been to them in San Francisco, Dallas, Minneapolis, LA, and a few other places, everything from small to large to semi-pro to professional.

    I guess you could make the case that it is much more difficult to get all those people firing on all cylinders together, or they don’t make conductors like they used to, or that they do not know how to select music that fits into a program that keeps one’s interest. I’m not an expert. Something is missing, or at least it seems like a big roll of the dice, and like you say, a museum (or mausoleum) piece.

    I rarely go to concerts anymore, but it is usually the case that when I got to see some big name act, or even a minor one that tours regularly, it’s fairly certain they will have it together and they will put on a show, the music will be not just good but the players will wear themselves out trying to give it. There is a jazz guitarist I have seen several times over the span of 25 years and he never fails to burn it up. He brings both new technology to bear on what he does as well as incredibly solo guitar work in every concert. He tours about 100-200 dates in any given year with a band and they NEVER miss.

    Oh yeah, and some of it is loud and he rocks too! Here’s Pat Metheny playing guitar all by himself: