Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nostalgia for the revolution, and the new revolution

Scott Alexander posted this video on Facebook on Wednesday with the comment, "Why does this song still sound great after 47 years? I never get tired of it!"

It's true. This song exploded out of the radio lo, these 46 years ago.  My response to his question was, "Like the Beatles' stuff, it sounded like nothing we ever heard before. It was just the Beatles Invasion before this song; after that it was called the British Invasion."

To you youngsters (I can't believe I just said that) who weren't alive yet, it's hard to describe what rock 'n' roll radio was like in 1965. Every few days, it seemed, we heard something completely new and different. The atmosphere was electric.

It's easy for us older folks to pine for those times, but I suspect in some ways that these are the good old days. The walls that musicians like the Beatles and Stones had to clear before their work could be heard by a large audience have crumbled. The equivalent innovators of 2011 need only post their tunes for download. They have to work as hard as ever to find that audience, if not harder.

There are no more gatekeepers – you don't have to convince a disk jockey or program director to play your tunes, and you don't have to convince a producer or record company to release your music in the first place. The job that used to be done by the gatekeepers is now in the hands of each individual music lover, so the chances of finding millions of fans around the world are reduced. But the chance of finding one fan around the world, and then another, are infinitely increased.

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