Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Did you hear that? It's the sound of culture dying


I feel like, in my head, when I'm writing blog posts, I try not to write too many serious posts. I'm not sure if I often succeed. There are enough serious things and too many serious people with serious opinions in the world for me to add to all of that. But this post will, unfortunately, probably be something of a downer, depending on whether it means anything to you. It may, also unfortunately, mean nothing to you.
For the last 3 years I've worked in a cubicle. If you don't know that about me yet, that's your introduction to my day-to-day life. It's not something I planned on, not something I hoped for, but I've succumbed and conformed to the idea of that abhorrent statement "well it pays the bills." And it does. It also pays medical and dental and rent and all of those things that grown-ups are supposed to consider important. For the fact that I'm not destitute and panhandling on the street, I'm extremely thankful.
But the days to tend to blur together, producing an unending cycle of ultimately pointless questions like "do I ride the elevator or take the stairs today?" "Turkey or Tuna?" "are we taking lunch at 11:30 or 12:00?" When in a cycle like this, it's easy to make a routine out of everything in your life. What I've learned in the last 3 years is that I hate routines. I'm trying, all the time, to break out of the slightest routine. And for a while, I found myself not only in a routine but in a rut; and it was the worst kind of rut to be in: a musical rut.
I understand this fact: That there are people in the world to whom music doesn't matter. I also know this: I don't understand those people completely. I come from a household where, as early as I can remember, the first thing on in the morning wasn't the television, it was the radio. And it wasn't just a radio it was a record player that just happened to have a radio, an 8-track and a cassette deck. It was, and still is, a magical machine to me. Every important thing in my life I can remember by the music associated with it. The way I knew my parents were supposed to be together: They had complementary Beatles record collections, my mom the early stuff ending with Revolver, my dad picking up with Sgt. Pepper's. The first song I ever knew all the words to: Chantilly Lace. The most played song my Freshman year of High School: My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion. I also remember making a cassette recording of the radio edit of that song that had the movie lines in it. One of my favorite school projects happened Junior year of high school when I made a modern soundtrack to Hamlet. I sat up for hours going through my cd collection, picking the perfect songs and making a mix tape.
There is good music and bad music and most of it is a matter of opinion, but there's always music.
So how do these things relate, you may ask? In December, following the great Edgar Wright on Twitter, I discovered that I could listen to a BBC radio station BBC 6. If you want to attempt to do the same thing, here's the website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music

Quite simply put, it's the best radio station I've ever heard. They mainly focus on indie music, and quite often play a lot of U.S. bands that have very little shot at getting heard on the Clear-Channel controlled monotony that pass for radio stations on this side of the Atlantic. It's the channel that got me out of my musical rut and had me wishing that I-tunes would make it possible to purchase songs from other countries' musical stash. So why is all of this important? Because this recession has now caused the BBC to reconsider their position on what they think is important. What that really means is that they're debating whether or not they can afford to keep a unique station like 6 Music because apparently "1%" of the population listen to it. I refuse to believe that only 1% of any population does anything, but these are the numbers they're choosing to go with, I'm assuming, because they think it will make more sense to the public to hear numbers that low. 1% means basically nobody. 1% is expendable. 1% means that those people who have made a conscious decision not to listen to drivel don't matter. 1% means that there's only 1% left to be beaten into submission.
For a long time I thought this recession was rubbish, ridiculous even, something that would blow over like one of those annoying Weather Channel rookies in a hurricane. And then came the news that the second round of jobs at my company would be outsourced. And then it was debating whether or not to return that $17.50 shirt, and I'm not even one of those people that has to worry about feeding a family. I'm just one of those people that has to worry about making a car insurance payment the same week as my rent is due. But all of this I could handle. What I can't handle is knowing that this recession could cause something far worse. It could cause a complete collapse of culture. Right now, I'm listening to "The Times They Are A-Changin' " and it's never seemed more appropriate. Every day some establishment that used to offer up an open mic night is closing. Ticketmaster and Live Nation are merging to create some behemoth (i.e. monopoly) to take more of your money for less entertainment. Clear Channel owns 900 stations nation-wide making it possible for you to hear Lady Gaga roughly 6 times in an hour on 4 different local stations, and yet anything that offers up an alternative is on the chopping block.
Perhaps I'm being over dramatic. If you think so, then thanks for sticking with me this long, you'll probably want to cut out now though. But if you've gone to the website and seen a playlist or listened to a show that played Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman" back to back with Fanfarlo or Groove Armada, and you can appreciate the meaning of the word "eclectic" then there are a couple of things you can do, if you choose to do so.
The easiest thing is, if you're on Facebook, and (let's face it, who isn't?) you can go to this website:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-6-Music/318069702319?ref=sgm

and just click "become a fan". You can also look on that page and there is a link to a petition that you can sign.

Finally and most importantly go to :

www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consultations

or this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consultations/departments/bbc/bbc-strategy-review/consultation/consult_view

to give your opinion. Thank you for taking the time to read if you've made it to the end and happy listening!

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