- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 22, 2000

Authentic voice

"Only in the last 30 years has rock 'n' roll put a premium on aggression and revolution, forsaking melody, harmony, and spiritual expression. Amazingly, in the last few years and leading into this year's Grammy Awards rock 'n' roll seems to be finding its authentic voice again. This may be the year that the Woodstocking of pop at last comes to an end… .
"So how did we get from Elvis to Woodstock? According to [critic Martha] Bayles, the real shift came not in the 1950s, but in the 1960s. It was then that the positive, funny, sensual, and spiritual idioms of the African-American tradition collided with 'perverse modernism'… the anti-art impulses of the European avant-garde… .
"The most famous practitioners were the Rolling Stones, who began as a third-rate blues cover band and turned into the menacing alternative to the Beatles. The Stones quickly gained fame by their rudeness toward authority and bourgeois values and Mick Jagger's cross-dressing antics that are regarded as part of rock's tradition but in reality had nothing to do with the positive spirituality of American pop music forms."
Mark Gauvreau Judge, writing on "The End of Woodstock," in the Feb. 28 issue of the Weekly Standard

Decadent sounds

"The first time anyone openly acknowledged music as a weapon may have been during the 1989 invasion of Panama, when U.S. soldiers bombarded the Vatican envoy's house with rock-and-roll in an attempt to chivy out the fugitive Manuel Noriega. But the truth is that we are all terrorized by music nowadays. It's not so much the high school kids parading down the street with boom boxes, or the college students partying away a Saturday afternoon, or the insomniac in the next apartment pacing up and down to Beethoven at 3 a.m. It's, rather, the merciless stream of 1960s golden oldies drenching suburban malls, the disco-revival radio thumping out Donna Summer in the back of a taxi all the way to the airport, the tinny Muzak bleating from storefronts as you walk along the sidewalk, the tastefully muted Andrew Lloyd Weber … in the men's room. America is drowning in sanctioned music an obligatory orchestration cramming every inch of public space… .
"Perhaps it was Hollywood that taught us to expect life to come with background music, a constant melodic commentary on the movie of our lives. But we are soundtracked nowadays with relentless demands for only the most obvious and officially appropriate emotions… .
"What, nowadays, is music for? We have a name for sophistication and complexity to no purpose: decadence. But in an age without a public philosophy about at least the most important things, all sophistication is purposeless and all complexity decadent."
J. Bottum, writing on "The Sound Tracking of America," in the March issue of the Atlantic Monthly

Yuppie transformation

"The label yuppie actually started out as a benign (if reductive) demographic marker, a description of all those young people who were moving back to cities and discovering imported cheese and celebrating the annual arrival of the Beaujolais noveau. 'The Yuppie Handbook,' published in 1984, described the yuppies as the heirs of the preppies: affluent but not obscenely rich, they were figures to be joked about in a gentle and congenial way. And if you were one, you laughed about it good-naturedly.
"Money changed all that… . Suddenly, popular representations of yuppies painted them as money-mad locusts sweeping through corporate America, performing hostile takeovers, dismembering corporations and destroying jobs… .
"In fact, from today's vantage point, the yuppies seem like the pathetic last gasp of the old Protestant Establishment culture."
David Brooks, writing on "The Good Old Boys," in Sunday's New York Times Magazine

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