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Importance of Events in Popular Music Essay

‘How do we determine the importance of historical events in popular music?’

Why should we determine the importance of historical events in popular music? Whats important to one fan of an artist is completely different to the views from a fan of another artist.

Its not just what makes the papers , magazines and tv that matters to fans. News about artists is broadcasted in many a way in todays world, mostly because ‘stars’ and their ‘goings on’ are more important to the general public than they have ever been before. people like to look up to artists or in most cases now look down on their drug abuse or outrageous behavior and bring back the reality that we are all the same and can all go through the same tough times.

Music is the most favoured thing in alot of peoples lives today. Ipods and mp3 players are something that a vast majority of people carry around with them religiously and would feel empty without. Its only human that people are interested in what their favorite artist looks like, where they come from and their general background. This however has lead to artists lives being intruded and covered across various news feeds and social networks more than ever before. General public forget that there are infact 2 sides to an artist. The side that we see when we they are on tour and their natural human side. When they are on stage they are a musician. when they are not on stage they are classed as a celebrity whether they like it or not. Quote taken straight from the second line of wikipedia when the well known name ‘Amy Winehouse’ is searched –

‘Winehouse is best known for her powerful contralto vocals, substance abuse and mental health issues’

On a website such as Wikipedia its their job to write a biography on famous people. They have to include stories from each persona. The person they are writing about is a celebrity and they are a celebrity for a reason. It’s wikipedia’s job to tell everyone who they are and how they got there. After reading the article on Amy it would seem that in some instances the fact that she has been caught smoking crack and been wandering round high in public in just her bra outweigh the better points about her career. Having then come across a ‘Talk’ page that gets raised if people aren’t happy with the way something is written it would seem my points were correct about this article –

‘This article covers Winehouse being photographed bloody and bruised, high, wandering in public in a bra, drug overdoses, being recorded smoking crack; it covers her health issues, her brushes with the law, in fact, every thing that has occurred over last year and a half. That the article doesn’t denigrate or make judgments or pronouncements about her attests to its neutrality, not a bias.’

Straight away in this article the writer makes reference to Amy’s ‘downfalls’ making this a more noticeable point to begin with. If someone had heard a song by Amy on the radio and decided they wanted to know more about her as an artist they would be immediately switched off by the statement ‘ best known for substance abuse and mental health issues’ this leaving an even bigger dent in a ruined fan base when the fact she had drug issues could have been kept as a minor point and concluded with the fact that that piece of news happened quite a while ago and she’s doing alot better and back in the studio recording her third album. But there’s also the argument that people need to know everything about her with it being a biography about a famous person. It would be bias of wikipedia to not mention the troubled aspects of her life aswell as her achievements in the music industry.

There’s more news about artists going downhill than the fact their album may have been at number one for a matter of weeks because its what the public are eager to hear about. Writers are always looking for negative points to make about musicians as it gains kudos for them, the public love to gossip about others that are in a bad way and going through hell rather than gossiping about the fact someones been at number 1 for 10 consecutive weeks. It’s like some peoples lives depend on wether Winehouse has had another drug outrage and been forced into rehab again.

We only knew Miss Winehouse for a short period of time before she was swept off the our headlines to rehab. This thought pattern lead me to thinking of an artist that had been round for a longer period of time that had gone through a rough patch before their career crumbled.

If we look back to a piece of musical news I found online from the 60’s the way the articles are worded sound like the writer is writing the article with respect to the artist. Talking about what is happening to the artist at the time of course but in a way that is respectful and shows that the writer appreciates the problems that the artist in question is going through and has an appreciation for the music they make.

“These two cats seem to add that final dimension that was missing before in Hendrix’s live music. On the “Are You Experienced” album, he taped over his own rhythm guitar, so as to have some sort of melody to fall back on. Larry Lee now keeps it present all the time.”

The writer makes reference to the good things that have happened. Things that have changed the way the certain musicians music is written and how it has come to benefit future material. The article in question is talking about Hendrix’s gigs and his backing band and does mention the drugs he was taking at the time. The writer consistently praises Jimi and his band and only makes reference to the drugs right at the end of the article of which consists of one line.

‘The drugs were found directly on top of clothes inside his luggage. Now who puts their stash right on top? Especially well-travelled freaks like Mr. Jimi, through border crossings. When he re­ported to the Toronto medical exam­ining board, his body was found clean and pure. Ain’t a trace a shit in Jimi; but the word-of-mouth-and-press was not so clean.’

Even when making reference to the drugs the writer details the happenings in a jokey way as if to say ‘Silly ‘Ol Jimi!’ like the writer was close to Jimi or really admired him.

When relating this back to todays news about stars you can tell alot has changed in the way we really appreciate musicians. The public go through years of enjoyment from an artist and their music, relating songs to their personal experiences but as soon as the star does something even as minute as forgetting to put knickers on they are slated and the writer jumps to obsurd conclusions such as the star must have forgotten to put knickers on because they had been taking drugs or drinking copious amounts of alcohol. There’s no appreciation for the artist and no respect for the way the artist feels.

Jimi Hendrix died of an apparent drug overdose on the 18th September 1970. It was the death of someone who had created the backbone of R&B and rock music that musicians still use today. He created so many different techniques on the electric guitar that musicians class as basics or must haves today. The drug overdose that killed him is what has urged me to talk about Jimi. I was intrigued to see how writers spoke about him once he had gone and how people still remember him today. I wanted to see wether people remembered his celebrity side more or actually did remember him for the musical legend that he was and still is today. Drugs in the psychedelic 1960’s were used by many people for recreational reasons. LSD was the drug of the century, lots of other musicians used it and fans used it to enjoy music to its full potential. That was a regular occurrence in the 1960’s but after Jimi died of a drug overdose it becomes that little bit more concerning and people wanted to start digging for reasons as to why he’d want to kill himself.

“I don’t want to be a clown anymore.” “I don’t want to be a ‘rock and roll star,”’ Jimi says, emphatically. The forces of contention are never addressed but their pervasiveness has taken its toll on Jimi’s stamina and peace of mind. Trying to remain a growing artist when a business empire has nuzzled you to its bosom takes a toughness, a shrewdness”

Note the fact Jimi states “star” when he speaks. He had had enough of the stardom that being a good musician brings. His story relates to Kurt Cobains story in the way that them being celebrities and their lives being invaded all the time got far too much for them. The clown part of the quote could link to the fact that clowns are a form of entertainment and people watch their every move when they are around. Jimi Enjoyed being a musician but was sick of people consistently following him around and he wasn’t able to get time to himself.

“Lest anyone forget, Lea­cock – Pennebaker’s Monterey Pop has immortalized his pyromaniacal affair with the guitar. Rock media bedroom talk makes him King Stud of the groupies. Stories circulate that he is rude to audi­ences, stands up writers, hangs up photographers, that he doesn’t talk.”

The way the writer speaks about this problem is in a respectable way, saying pop has ruined his relationship with his guitar. They don’t slate him for wanting to just be one side of the coin. Today musicians have two personas because it seems right to be that way. Music to them is work and its a shame that they have to be followed when they’re not doing their work. When anybody else finishes work they leave and become themselves again. There’s no rules when you’re yourself. You can drink where you like, say what you want, do whatever you like, wear what you want but being a musician has its limits. The public eye is always on you, you have to be wearing the right clothes whenever you leave the house and you have to look good when you leave the house. Today you can’t just be a musician, you’re a celebrity aswell and once the celebrity lifestyle has a hold of you there’s no turning back.

Looking at other articles from the 1960’s it seems that alot more was accepted at the time. Drugs such as LSD, heroin, amphetamines and cannabis were widely used in the fan world and in the musical world. In todays world drugs are much less tolerated and forces crack down alot more on them. People have generally grown up knowing that drugs are bad and not acceptable and that you should never go near them. Back in the 1960’s people were persuading others to use recreational drugs to have a good time with them. With the case being that drugs were alot more accepted in the 1960’s writers at the time had less to write about musicians lives and more about the way they perform and the way their music is put together.

Jimi Hendrix’s death was a turning point for popular music. A massive gap had to be filled and for years other artists have pioneered to become the new Jimi Hendrix, a true guitar hero. His death was so shocking that people still write about him and his achievements today. The music in the 60’s was so much more important than the stardom that people seek today which is why we remember Jimi Hendrix for his Music and Not his Drug abuse like Amy Winehouse.

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