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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Rise up!

November 1st, 2015

BY GREG ROBERTS

Many modern developments are worse than their predecessors. White sliced bread is a tasteless blob compared to a baguette or focaccia; modern factory chickens aren’t half as good as the yellow-meated ones that once roamed the barnyard. Many things that we created for mass consumption are a step backward, a devolution.

Electric musical instruments fall into this category. Hammond organs, electric violins, and certainly electric guitars are abominations that sound much worse than their acoustic originals. That noise is unnatural and unhealthy but — like a fakir chewing on splinters of glass — we are now used to it. Even the academics and intellectuals embrace music that is “ritardando.” When Carl Sagan selected material for a cultural capsule to be launched into space, he chose, in addition to J.S. Bach, the music of Chuck Berry. Carl was in kneejerk mode when he did that: wannabe cool mode, pandering mode. In retrospect he was just another lame-o.

After decades of devolution we now live in a society in which ninety percent of us think rock and roll is good music, the best music. They’re the same ninety percent who think spectator sports should take up a huge share of our lives. Think of the insanity of that statistic. A few more decades on this path and we’ll be sitting in a corner smiling, playing with our own crap.

Rock and roll may not make you stupid the way a surgical lobotomy does, but it can act as a kind of oxygen depriver. It makes you inert, freezing you in dummy land, preventing you from advancing intellectually. Imagine: Instead of spending tens of thousands of hours nodding to the inane sounds of pop music, you studied real music, complex music, and perhaps learned to play an instrument. You could find happiness!
But no, Average Joe can’t move beyond the simple tunes. He keeps eating that same white bread and baloney sandwich he’s had every day since 1966. Pssst, hey Joe, that’s a chateaubriand over there, cooked to perfection by a master. “Naw,” he says, “that looks too big for me to get my mouth around. Besides, I been eating Bimbo since before I had teeth.”

The music we hear now, the horrible poison from urban crackheads and suicidal, self-loathing Europeans, makes Sixties rock seem almost pleasant; but think twice. That music was crap, too. I don’t care if you have warm feelings toward it because it was playing when you got laid in a Ford Econoline van. Thinking rationally, that music was lame. If you can stand it, sit down and listen to something such as “Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds.” It is embarrassing and annoying. And it is sad to think that we spent countless hours soaking our brains in this sewage — time we can never get back, and for which we can show absolutely nothing.

You could argue that all this horrible popular music is a good sedative for the masses. If “Louie Louie” helps keep the population in a larval form, they will be content to live out their existences in a passive way, consuming less, demanding less. Not a bad Malthusian argument. If people choose to live as aphids, who are we to get riled up about it? An aphid sucking on a fresh rose shoot is a happy guy, as happy as a stoner listening to the Grateful Dead or a crackhead tuned into Fifty Cent.

The aphid has no choice in his behavior — he was programmed to suck — but did someone program the pop music guy? Looks like it. The media saturate us with shit music as background for every movie, TV show, and advertisement. Starting in the 1960s our schools started embracing rock music, even teaching classes in “rock poetry.” The 1960’s geniuses decided that Jim Morrison’s “his brain is squirming like a toad” was better than William Butler Yeats. Forty years later not one high school kid in America has heard of Yeats.

With ninety percent of the population happily listening to garbage more dissonant and offensive than the bellowing of Godzilla, our situation may seem hopeless, but that ain’t necessarily so. Remember what the bread shelf looked like fifty years ago? Wonder bread was the white supremacist of its day, but then we began to resist. It took decades, but we did it, and now look at all the colorful loaves from all the world’s peoples.

There is hope for the masses to rise above crap music. Hell, I did it, and I’m barely average in intellect. We just need to raise our voices and tell it like it is. We must reject the phrase “It’s all good.” Very little of it is. If you hear a young person listening to bad music, you need to say, “That shit will turn you into a retard, son. What the hell is wrong with you?” People simply need advice and instruction. If you see someone having sex with a road-killed raccoon, you don’t tell him, “It’s all good.” You tell him he’s sick. Same with rock and roll. Give that musical necrobeastialist a recording of the Mendelsohn Octet and tell him he needs to be able to hum the first movement by Friday afternoon or you’ll kick his ass. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Rock 'n' Roll Issue, Roberts | Link to this Entry

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