December 7, 2011

Kids These Days

John Blake writes on CNN:
Listening to black music today is depressing. Songs on today's urban radio playlists are drained of romance, tenderness and seduction. And it's not just about the rise of hardcore hip-hop or rappers who denigrate women. 
Black people gave the world Motown, Barry White and "Let's Get It On." But we don't make love songs anymore. 
Why? 
I asked some of the stars who created the popular R&B classics of the late 1960s, '70s and early '80s. Their answer: The music changed because blacks lost something essential -- something that all Americans, regardless of race, should regret. 
"We had so much harmony" 
Some of what we lost, they say, was an appreciation of love itself. 
Earth Wind & Fire keyboardist and founding member Larry Dunn says a new generation of black R&B artists is more cynical because more come from broken homes and broken communities.

I'm an old codger so my views should be taken with a grain of salt, but African-American music in the 21st Century definitely seems a lot worse overall than in most decades of the 20th Century. In contrast, electric guitar rock sounds about as good as ever, it just sounds the same as ever. I hear new songs all the time that would have been classics if they had come out in 1979. 

One question is whether it's a supply side problem (as Blake, who I believe is black, suggests) or a demand side problem. The EWF old-timer's supply side suggestion makes a lot of sense: 1970s black music stars were raised during the improving era for blacks after WWII and benefited from relatively stable upbringings. (This was also an era when blacks still felt like they needed to prove things to whites, so they worked hard on their crafts to be accepted.)

But, what about demand side explanations? One change is that popular music today is usually aimed at microniches. If you like, say, sludge metal but not industrial metal, well, you don't have to put up with any of that horrible industrial metal on your iPod. You can have 100% sludge metal all the time. 

In the old days, people had fewer channels of music, so you had to put up more with stuff that wasn't exactly to your taste. Earth, Wind & Fire, for example, was a black band that aimed more at women than men and more at 20ish people than teens, but they were widely respected across many demographics. If you were looking around the car radio dial for, say, the Stones or Zeppelin but could only find EWF's September, well, you might listen to it because you didn't have too many other choices and, while it definitely wasn't crafted with you in mind, it was clearly of high quality. So, bands had incentives to be broadly appealing.

I don't listen to black radio stations because I don't like rap, but I've recently listened with some fascination to the big pop station in L.A., KIIS, the one with Ryan Seacrest as DJ. 

The biggest demographic group left today that wants to like what everybody else likes, that wants to be up on the latest fads, are teenage girls. So, mainstream pop music today reflects the tastes of just that narrow demographic. And the music industry has gotten used to catering to their desires, which in turn makes teenage girls more addicted to their urges, more in need of ever stronger doses. 

Commenter Title in Caps calls what they now want narcisso-fascism. As far as I can tell, most pop songs these days by female singers are about "I'm so sexy." Meanwhile, pop songs by male singers aimed at the teen female market are mostly about "You so sexy."

113 comments:

Ed said...

"I'm an old codger so my views should be taken with a grain of salt, but African-American music in the 21st Century definitely seems a lot worse overall than in most decades of the 20th Century."

All popular music is pretty mediocre if not outright bad these days, for the same factors you explained later. Its not just African-American music.

Jeff W. said...

On the supply side, I would say that not only broken families and broken communities play a role, but the economic roles of the fathers (respectable work vs. absent) as well as general economic conditions.

David Hackett Fischer in his book "The Great Wave" shows how eras of price stability gave rise to orderly artists such as Bach, and that eras of inflation and price chaos gave rise to composers and artists who expressed discord in their work.

From a review:

"Fischer also brilliantly illuminates how these long economic waves are closely intertwined with social and political events, affecting the very mindset of the people caught in them. The long periods of equilibrium are marked by cultural and intellectual movements--such as the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Victorian Age-- based on a belief in order and harmony and in the triumph of progress and reason. By contrast, the years of price revolution created a melancholy culture of despair."

http://www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Economics/History/?view=usa&ci=9780195053777

JustMe said...

Personal theory - music has declined in general because less people go to church and kids join the church choir. Look at the influence of hymnals on country music....

Who do you think this was:

Picked tobacco crop and
sung in the church choir...

....Dolly Parton.. but it just easily could have been a motown gal.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

To understand the true debasement of white American culture, starting with our teenagers ,,,,

what they are supposed to look up to, and think is "cool"....

check out the lyrics of this popular "teeny bopper" song from Katy Perry called "Last Friday Night" playing on all the Mainstream Pop Music stations

(Yes, readers this is what you're 12 year old daughter/niece is listening to... )

"There's a stranger in my bed
There's a pounding in my head
Glitter all over the room
Pink flamingos in the pool
I smell like a minibar
DJ's passed out in the yard
Barbies on the barbeque
Is this a hickey or a bruise

Pictures of last night
Ended up online
I'm screwed
Oh well
It's a blacked-out blur
But I'm pretty sure it ruled
(Damn)

Last Friday night
Yeah we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage-a-trois

Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we're gonna stop-op
Ooh-ohh

This Friday night
Do it all again
This Friday night
Do it all again

Trying to connect the dots
Don't know what to tell my boss
Think the city towed my car
Chandelier is on the floor
Ripped my favourite party dress
Warrants out for my arrest
Think I need a ginger ale
That was such an epic fail

Pictures of last night
Ended up online
I'm screwed
Oh well
It's a blacked-out blur
But I'm pretty sure it ruled
(Damn)

Last Friday night
Yeah we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bars
So we hit the boulevards

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage-a-trois

Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we're gonna stop-op
Ooh-ohh

This Friday night
Do it all again
Do it all again
This Friday night
Do it all again
Do it all again
This Friday night

T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.

Last Friday night
Yeah we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage-a-trois

Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we're gonna stop
Ooh-ohh

This Friday night
Do it all again

Whooooo!"

RandyB said...

Some black conservatives like Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell have pointed out that success in music shows what blacks can do when they're not given preferences, and are forced to succeed on merit. During my Top 40 years, I liked Stevie Wonder, the Spinners and OJay's just as much as Elton John, the Eagles and Bee Gees.

I suspect the tide turned when blacks no longer had to be equal to whites in musicality; but simply orating the black experience became considered art. Rapping and (whatever they call that thing where they play a turntable record with their finger back and forth) is not music, no matter how much black experience is behind it.

John Shade said...

Kanye West makes hip-hop music with complex harmonies and strong melodies. The instrumental elements in his music are original, not samples of existing works. The mournful instrumental part at the end of the ballad Runaway off his 2010 album, My Dark Twisted Beautiful Fantasy, is the work of someone with a flare for melody.

Dennis Dale said...

Demand-side is held responsible also for the milquetoast nature of popular country now--its biggest demo is young to middle-aged moms, who do much of their listening in the minivan while ferrying the kids from school to soccer to home.

Carol said...

Forget Motown. Blacks used to *own* a truly virtuosic genre that was buried in the 1960s.

It's been downhill since Miles Davis went electric.

Carol said...

As far as rap goes, I used to listen quite a bit 1-5 years ago, and while I wouldn't call it poetry, the better rappers did make outstanding use of alliteration, metaphor, internal rhyme, and other devices that would have made my senior English teacher proud.

But there were so many artists back then I could not keep up with who was doing what.

Jeff said...

Music classes have given way to ESOL classes so kids don't learn music at school. Many also probably don't learn at church either.

Then there is feminism. Why love women, and work to create works that will get you women, when women have turned into a bunch of greedy bitches. Even my wife, that heartless c*nt, thinks that she is owed happiness. She doesn't believe she needs to plan, organization or has to fit into a system in order to be happy. Nope, she is deserved of it, no matter what. I used to write beautiful words to women. Fat chance, that I would ever do that again. And my wife doesn't consider herself a feminist. I can only imagine how bad many women are with their ridiculous assertions that life owes them soemething, even after considering their own f-d up choices.

As for Kayne West, the lyrics to that song "Runaway" are best described as marginally horrific. He might have talent, but it's of the sort that I cannot comprehend.

Here is a selection:

She find pictures in my email
I sent this bitch a picture of my dick
I don't know what it is with females
But I'm not too good at that shit


Let's have a toast for the douchebags
Let's have a toast for the assholes
Let's have a toast for the scumbags
Every one of them that I know



Now, that is talent! Not.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think rap is currently better than it's ever been:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1bfBwSTpCI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3HuRCg1D0E

Anonymous said...

Blacks used to *own* a truly virtuosic genre that was buried in the 1960s.

The apogee, though, tended to be the the racial crossover - i.e. blacks performing white tunes and whites performing black tunes.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

...well i was comin home late onedark afternoon
a reporter stopped me for a interview
she said she'sheard stories and she's heard fables
that i'm vicious on the mike and theturntables
this young reporter i did adore
so i rocked a vicious rhymelike i never did before
she said damn fly guy im in love with you
thecasanova legend must have been true
i said by the way baby what's your name
said i go by the name of lois lane
and you could be my boyfiend yousurely can
just let me quit my boyfriend called superman
i said he's afairy i do suppoose
flyin through the air in pantyhose
he may be verysexy or even cute
but he looks like a sucker in a blue and red suit
isaid you need a man who's got finesse
and his whole name across his chest
he may be able to fly all through the night
but can he rock a party tilthe early light
he cant satisfy you with his little worm
but i can bustyou out with my super sperm
i go do it, i go do it, i go do it, do it , doit

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

If you like, say, sludge metal but not industrial metal, well, you don't have to put up with any of that horrible industrial metal on your iPod. You can have 100% sludge metal all the time.

This is true, but runs counter to how I see a lot of regional touring bands marketing themselves these days. For those, it's all about eclecticism. In their ads in the local free weekly, you're likely to find bands promoting themselves as "Funk-inspired Tex-Mex", "Bluegrass with a Hip-Hop Groove", "Alt-Country Punk Rockabilly" or something like that. Of course, these bands are generally white and play in SWPL-friendly venues.

Genre loyalty seems to be a thing of the past - except for the huge percentage of young blacks who listen to nothing but rap.

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

Popular music in general has been on a trend toward less and less sophistication for a long time. Like the old Cheech and Chong routine spoofing glam rock stars (Earache my Eye, I think it was called), featuring a vocalist ranting "I own apartment buildings and shopping centers and I only know 3 chords!". And that was 1973.

I was born in 1957, so I'm not exactly a member of the Depends set, but I've gained more and more of an appreciation for artists like Frank Sinatra (circa 1958-66), Dave Brubeck, Vince Guaraldi, et al as I've gotten older. For crissakes, Quincy Jones worked with Sinatra...what do you suppose HE thinks about the music he was involved in making 45 years ago, as opposed to what's going on now?

Rohan Swee said...

Carol: ...and while I wouldn't call it poetry, the better rappers did make outstanding use of alliteration, metaphor, internal rhyme, and other devices that would have made my senior English teacher proud.

I tried Carol, I really tried, because I love music and I've always been willing to put a lot of effort into learning to appreciate unfamiliar forms that I didn't "get". But rap remained profoundly uninteresting. Maybe if I stopped thinking of it as an attempt at music...

Jeff: Even my wife, that heartless c*nt, thinks that she is owed happiness. She doesn't believe she needs to plan, organization or has to fit into a system in order to be happy. Nope, she is deserved of it, no matter what[...]And my wife doesn't consider herself a feminist. I can only imagine how bad many women are with their ridiculous assertions that life owes them soemething, even after considering their own f-d up choices.

Ah, the alt-right. When women choose assholes, it's because women love assholes. When men choose c*nts, it's because women are all c*nts.

dearieme said...

I like black music, from Scott Joplin through Bessy Smith, Jelly Roll Morton, Armstrong, Ellington, Ella, Fats Waller, and so forth. But then I like white American music of the same vintage.

Anonymous said...

Pop music reached a dead end years ago. The history of 20th Pop music is Blacks taking white music - adding more rhythm and beat - and whites copying and expanding on what the Blacks did.

So we go from Ragtime to jazz to R&B to Rock and Roll and finally to Rap - a musical dead end.

The other problem is you have a bunch of people who think the "Beatles" are classic music. When you have Granny rocking to The Rolling Stones, the youngsters have to be even more extreme just to feel young.

Anonymous said...

I tend to doubt the children raised by parents who would let them consume crap like the quoted lyrics by Kate Perry are going to have many children themselves. Following that sort of lifestyle is a prescription for ending up on drugs, with no money for children.

At some stage those sorts will have to die out, especially when supporting the welfare class cannot be afforded by the tax paying classes. When that happens, there will be a rise of conservative values if there isn't already.

Anonymous said...

By the way, our whole culture has been fossilized for years. Name the last GREAT - not good -GREAT - play, novel, poem or painting created in the last 30 years.

9 of 10 people can't do it. And if try its always some avante-garde piece of crap that 60% of college educated people don't like or think is mediocre.

Anonymous said...

I'd say from where I stand, that most teenie bopper females have turned to country for romance.

Country is no longer niche music; its appeal is nationwide and it's not confined to females.

Mr Lomez said...

The business of music continues its shift from selling sounds to selling images.

It's more important that a musician project a "cool" persona than make good music. For whatever complicated reasons, modern black music has gone all in on this principle. (Where are the gawky, black singer-songwriters, a-la Ben Folds or John Mayer? Why shouldn't this exist?)

That said, listen to this recent black pop hit by Cee-Lo Green. It's aware of and embraces its MoTown influences. I dare say, if you don't enjoy this song, you are a liar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc0mxOXbWIU

DaveinHackensack said...

"As far as rap goes, I used to listen quite a bit 1-5 years ago, and while I wouldn't call it poetry, the better rappers did make outstanding use of alliteration, metaphor, internal rhyme, and other devices that would have made my senior English teacher proud."

You can hear some of that in the lyrics of the '90s rap "Bitches ain't Shit". But I prefer the Ben Folds cover.

ELVISNIXON.com said...

Steve Harvey pointed out this precise point in The Original Kings Of Comedy concert film.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLEindm75OQ

Kylie said...

"I tend to doubt the children raised by parents who would let them consume crap like the quoted lyrics by Kate Perry are going to have many children themselves. Following that sort of lifestyle is a prescription for ending up on drugs, with no money for children."

That may be true on Planet Oblivion or wherever it is you're from but here on Planet Earth, the exact opposite is true.

The less intelligent kids who model their lives on this cultural crap tend to have more children than better-educated young people who are more aware of the responsibilities of parenthood.

And having no money for children doesn't stop the young who consume this cultural crap from having children. They have kids whether or not they can afford to because so much government assistance is available to those sacred cows: low-income single mothers.

Nanonymous said...

When you have Granny rocking to The Rolling Stones, the youngsters have to be even more extreme just to feel young.

Did youngsters in 1911 go to hear Stravinsky because their aunts were all into Berlioz?

Carol said...

oh hell, I meant to say I listened to rap 10-15 years ago. And I've lived in Whiteopia so long, I don't know if blacks actually listen to it anymore, as it seems to be a white boy thing. Sort of like Chuck Berry in the 50s.

Surely there are blacks, somewhere, who still make music.

chucho said...

Steve's right, pop music used to try to appeal to broad tastes. That is long gone.

Case in point, EWF was fronted by a guy who had a significant career as a session *drummer* before the band even started. I don't doubt Maurice White's experience playing with blues, jazz, r&b, pop and rock acts gave him an edge in determining what appealed to the greatest number.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Remembering Theodore Sturgeon's Law that 90% of everything is crap, it is always hard to tell if general trends in quality are going up or down. I have a 15-year-old again (nephew) who listens to some rap, and while the percussion-heavy, effect-driven shallowness can be deeply irritating, there are indeed rap songs that have some narrative, in contrast to white rockers and technos, who seldom have much of that.

Harry Baldwin said...

A few years ago NPR's Terri Gross did an interview with Booker T. Jones of the 60s group Booker T. and the MGs. I was impressed by his erudition, how seriously he had studied classical music, and the fact that he didn't see everything through the prism of race. I wonder if there are any popular black performers of his caliber today.

Anonymous said...

I'd say from where I stand, that most teenie bopper females have turned to country for romance.

Country is no longer niche music; its appeal is nationwide and it's not confined to females.


Huh? Are you counting Taylor Swift as country?

Anonymous said...

one comment that helped me understand pop music better:


"pop music has always been dance music. except for the later beatles."



this explains a lot across generations. wondering why "kids these days" listen to rap or lady gaga? go to a club where kids these days are having a good time. its always about the beat.


you can talk a lot about the content of the lyrics or the commercialization of music or whatever. but that's it in a nutshell: dance music

agnostic said...

It isn't the first time it's happened, either for black music or American music in general. Dearieme listed a bunch of greats from the Jazz Age -- then what happened? It either went cerebral, watered-down, or exaggeratedly loud.

Swing / big band music was to jazz what grunge and nu metal were to rock.

What both periods of enthralling and singing-above-love music have in common is a rising crime rate, while both periods of stagnation or off-putting music were from falling-crime times (the mid-'30s through the late '50s, then again from the early '90s through today).

What we think of as great Classical music was also born from a European-wide wave of violence between roughly 1780 and 1830. The falling-crime Victorian era never came close to Beethoven or Schubert.

Not to pick on them or put them down -- their environment was just too stable for them to work themselves up into a passion. They would have stood out and gotten dirty looks for not showing proper self-restraint and sobriety.

Truth said...

"Actually, I think rap is currently better than it's ever been:"

Dude, was that satire or is that really what you consider good rap?

Nas, a very popular New York Rapper named his album, 8 years ago "Hip Hop is Dead" and he was right,if a few years early, but there are still some catchy tunes. Eminem really brought a lot of creativity to genre.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC9M_6gW7Yw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPZ2-FVcM3M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92FCRmggNqQ&ob=av2e

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVXS54VQMT0

Anonymous said...

Worst post you've ever written. Usually you are quite a clever interpreter of pop culture, but this post is way off beam.

Please don't take it seriously when blacks bemoan the loss of romance and tenderness in black music. Black culture has never been big on romance. "Let's Get It On" is just 60s slang for "Let's F**k." And everyone knew it then.

Of course, things have gotten exponentially worse since then. "Songs on today's urban radio playlists are drained of romance, tenderness and seduction. And it's not just about the rise of hardcore hip-hop or rappers who denigrate women." - this is kind of like saying that the Grand Canyon is a big gash in the earth. Duh.

Regarding what you call "electric guitar rock"....classic rock was superseded by punk/grunge bands. (Yes I recognize that there was glam and hair and heavy metal of the '80s, I'm talking about the prestige groups.)

Do you really think that punk/grunge is of the same calibre as classic roc, and that the musicians if you can call them musicians are of the same quality and calibre as musicians or as rock gods?

There isn't enough time or space in a comment to expand upon this, but punk/grunge musicians for the most part are heroin/meth addicted f***-ups, pathetic shells of men, and quite often bisexual if not closeted gays. Most of the classic rock gods were prodigious druggers but they were also heterosexual and lusty, and most managed to kick or control their drug habits.

You are most clueless when it comes to female teens. An article about their music prefs that doesn't mention Taylor Swift is worthless. Taylor Swift is their goddess, and she writes about insecurity. White teenage female psych is the exact opposite of the black "You Go Girl" mentality.

At least give examples of what you are talking about. "As far as I can tell, most pop songs these days by female singers are about "I'm so sexy."

Give an example.

Anonymous said...

"Did youngsters in 1911 go to hear Stravinsky because their aunts were all into Berlioz?"

I'm sure the 1 person in a 1,000 - who gave a damn about Stravinsky in 1911 - did.

But way to miss the point with a meaningless rhetorical question!

Seismic Puppy said...

Cold Play released a couple of fantastic albums. But when they are not singing, they should just shut up.

Seismic Puppy said...

"It's been downhill since Miles Davis went electric."

I disagree. Davis went downhill when he got arty in his collaboration with Gil Evans. Bitch's Brew, in contrast, was something new and different.

Reg Cæsar said...

If you like, say, sludge metal but not industrial metal...

It's official: there are now more genres than actual songs.

Seismic Puppy said...

Rap, stupid as it is, is a winning formula that combines porn-sexuality with thug-will-to-power, the sort of thing that appeals to hormoronic kids. They feel instant-sexy and instant-power. It's like Red Bull.

Also, rap's in-your-face-opinionated-ism makes it a perfect vehicle for hothead politics, and young people tend to be into that I-know-everything-radical-crap.

Seismic Puppy said...

Baseball is broadway. Basketball is jazz. Football is rap.

Reg Cæsar said...

... music has declined in general because [fewer] people go to church and kids join the church choir. --JustMe

Another reason for the quality of Motown was the excellent music education offered in the Detroit schools sixty years ago. They had choir at church one night every week, and classical training a couple of days at school.

I understand this is no longer available...

Anonymous said...

Not entirely related, but I just saw this, I think it's roughly consistent about the post-war trend and cultural dynamics.

http://www.jazzwax.com/2011/12/why-sonny-rollins-matters.html

Seismic Puppy said...

Our pop culture basically seems to have two sides to it:

Homo and MoHo.
Either we're badgered by the homo cabal, or it's blacks singing about 'I got me mo hos'.

agnostic said...

As for the demand side, when people feel ever safer during a period of falling crime rates, they put off growing up until later. They don't discount the future as much as people do in a world where it looks less certain or long-lasting.

With that delay of maturation, kids these days don't feel like courting each other. Don't be fooled: there is no widespread hook-up culture. More adolescents are virgins these days than ever. The hook-up culture only describes the shrinking minority who actually are getting it on.

Now that boys and girls don't want to interact with each other, they find little appeal in music that helps them along the courtship process, like music you can slow dance to. Slow dancing, or any dancing face-to-face, hands-on-bodies, is dead.

Most kids don't go dancing at all, and most of those who do don't dance with another person, and still most of those who do participate in a hands-off standing lap dance. As in a strip club, of course that leads nowhere. The girl grinds on the guy's lap for 30 seconds and leaves. The guy is puzzled and a little let down, but is still content that he got even that amount of contact, since people touching each other is so rare now.

Slow dance music shuts off the mental spotlight of self-consciousness, and throws a cloak of plausible deniability over two young people who want to get closer. They can always say that the music made them do it, something just came over them and they couldn't help it.

Because its main purpose is to dissolve the barrier between two personal-space bubbles, slow dance music finds no audience in a society where everyone wants to keep to themselves. Young people would rather get cabin fever playing video games and farting around on Facebook than let their guard down in a public, carnivalesque space like a dance club or the food court of a bustling mall.

Everyone who was wishing for a return of the 1950s or the Victorian era, here you are.

Casey Moqtada bin Qassim said...

Difficult to make judgment from the current crop of Top 40 CHR stations, which seems to have merged with Disney Radio at some point in the last decade. You are right about the tween bifurcation: the playlist is divided equally between entitled bratty white girl rah-rah manifestos (e.g. Avril Lavigne, Gaga) and semi-danceable soft-rave pop of the "Non-Threatening Boys" variety (e.g. Bruno Mars). This is obvious after even 5 min of listening on any of them (often owned by same corporate mother)

agnostic said...

Blake gives short shrift to the mid and late '80s, but there was still plenty of uplifting, grown folks music then:

"Nightshift" by the Commodores

"Higher Love" by Steve Winwood, a very black-sounding song, with Chaka Khan on back-up vocals

"Rhythm of the Night" by DeBarge

"The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Liberian Girl" by Michael Jackson

And of course Whitney Houston in her pre-crackhead heyday. I think girls (and even guys) from 1820 would have totally gone for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and "So Emotional".

Kylie said...

"The falling-crime Victorian era never came close to Beethoven or Schubert.

Not to pick on them or put them down -- their environment was just too stable for them to work themselves up into a passion. They would have stood out and gotten dirty looks for not showing proper self-restraint and sobriety."


Standing out and getting dirty looks never seemed to bother Wagner.

NME of the people said...

Heard the title song from "Emotional Rescue" the other day and started pondering whether bands will ever attempt crossovers in the future (Stones were under commercial pressure because of the disco fad to "update" their sound, and they actually pulled it off, sort of). Now that the bottom fell out of selling recorded music and licensing is also more complex, the solid money is exclusively in touring, by "superserving the core" NPR-style, appearing at clubs & venues that cater expressly to the niche. But since someone (unfortunately) reposted the entire lyrics to a Katy Hudson single above it's amusing to think of how easily she crossed over from small-time Xtian vocal pop into stripper music.

Anonymous said...

Watching re-runs of the BBC's 'Top of the Pop's' from 1976 on BBC4 (a fascinating and evocative experience), one of the key difference between then and now is the generality of black music.
Put bluntly in those days black music was mostly song and dance acts with shiny suits and rhythmic hand and foot movements.Big hair and medallions were in vogue but the most glaring difference was how soft, melodic ad harmonic the music was.There was not one single aggressive snarler.
All it is today is ill-bred, bad dressed snarlers/talkers moaning about what hard lives they've got accompanied by a drum beat.
That and all the silly little manufactured female divas that exist today.

Ray Sawhill said...

I usually enjoy raciness and provocation, but my eyebrows definitely shot up when I ran across this little ditty.

Anonymous said...

Pop music died in 1987.

The year of 'Stock, Aitken and Waterman', the growth of rap and acid-house 'music'.
Never recovered since.
Anyway we are talking of a genre that's over 50 years old - ancient history.To today's youth the Beatles are as remote and alien as Al Jolson is to a middle-aged man.
My theory is that talented young white men - the wellspring of the 'golden age' of rock, aren't really into music anymore.They're all into 'World of Warcraft', internet porn and other modern diversions.

Steve Sailer said...

Larry,

Thanks. There have been a moderate number of black operatic singers going back to Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson. (My guess is that blacks have better vocal resonance for some as-of-yet-unknown reason).

as said...

Commenter Title in Caps calls what they now want narcisso-fascism. As far as I can tell, most pop songs these days by female singers are about "I'm so sexy." Meanwhile, pop songs by male singers aimed at the teen female market are mostly about "You so sexy."

Hilarious! Brilliant!

Simon in London said...

"The biggest demographic group left today that wants to like what everybody else likes, that wants to be up on the latest fads, are teenage girls. So, mainstream pop music today reflects the tastes of just that narrow demographic. And the music industry has gotten used to catering to their desires, which in turn makes teenage girls more addicted to their urges, more in need of ever stronger doses.

Commenter Title in Caps calls what they now want narcisso-fascism. As far as I can tell, most pop songs these days by female singers are about "I'm so sexy." Meanwhile, pop songs by male singers aimed at the teen female market are mostly about "You so sexy.""

That seems right. British pop music has been dominated by 'The X Factor' for many years, and The X Factor voting is dominated by teenage girls - which for instance meant that the talented singer Misha B kept having to be saved by the judges. Her reported crime was to have been a bully - of teenage girls. For such, there can be no forgiveness.

The good thing about The X Factor, which I watch with my family, is that it's designed to be watchable by parents as well as teen girls, hence the use of mostly 70s-80s songs in the competition.

Anonymous said...

Having to cater to a white audience ruined "black music." This conclusion is so obvious that Sailer must have intentionally avoided it.

Anonymous said...

semi side note. I saw something really really sad on my facebook page- a girl i knew from high school - pretty, elegant (studied ballet very seriously) posted her 8 year old son in halloween costume... he was a hip hop thug (his choice) and had insisted on hiding his blond locks.
:(

Seismic Puppy said...

Some defend country music as
pro-tradition, but I don't know about this. Country music has one thing in common with rap. Rap has narrowly defined black experience in terms of inner city black thugs wearing butt-bare pants and talking shit.
Country has narrowly defined white tradition in terms of hayseed hee haw.

There is a meaning of 'tradition' that implies knowledge of the past, all that came before us. But country music is about blissful ignorance. Listen to country music, and you get the sense that there was no past before country music or the world outside country music. It' as if God created Nashville as Eden and that's that, and all you gotta do is sing twing-twang and be happy(or sad about stupid things like girlfriend driving off with the truck). Don't get me wrong. There are country songs I like. And I love the voice of Tammy Wynette.
But country music is more about cultural/historical amnesia than memory/tradition. True tradition should be about knowledge, not ignorance.

Because of country music/culture's insular amnesia, many white conservatives have little knowledge of traditional white folk/ethnic music outside hee haw twang. There is a rich tradition of folk music outside the country format. Take all these Civil War songs. Wonderful stuff. But it's not country-ish in style, so most of it's been forgotten. There are also many ethnic traditions in American folk music, but since they aren't part of Nashville formula, they too have been sidelined.

Some might say today's country is different. It's more 'inclusive'. But all this means is that country music is more imitative of MTV sensibility and added more skankdom to its style.

Seismic Puppy said...

From Motown to Hotown.

Seismic Puppy said...

"pop music has always been dance music. except for the later beatles."

You mean you can dance to bebop?

Seismic Puppy said...

""Let's Get It On" is just 60s slang for "Let's F**k." And everyone knew it then."

Well, if you boil most love songs to their basics, what's left is 'I wanna get in your pants'. Do you think Lennon just wanted to hold hands?

Seismic Puppy said...

Something doesn't have to be fascist to be fascistized.

Anonymous said...

. "The history of 20th Pop music is Blacks taking white music - adding more rhythm and beat - and whites copying and expanding on what the Blacks did."

Why are you capitalizing "Black" but not "white?"
This is iSteve, not Diversity Inc. Tim Wise is not doing commnet control.

Seismic Puppy said...

If you go by Hollywood movies, even anti-fascism has been fascistized. Just look at MATRIX movies. It's style is Calvin Klein Nazi SS in the name of Marx.

Lucius said...

@Agnostic: Yeah, I'm feeling your sociological breakdown on musical devolution. Those Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler symphonies are pretty much a wash when it comes to working up any kind of emotional lather . . .

Are mall food courts a zone of Study Time non-interaction? I tend to see a lot of obnoxious youthful capering thereabouts; it's pretty much a no-go zone, as much as can be avoided.

There's no slow-dancing in cavernous clubs, so I don't follow whether you suppose young people today are too inhibited or not inhibited enough. In any event, the former supposition is patently absurd.

If children of the 1820s would've responded positively to Whitney Houston, then everything I've ever believed about the past is wrong and everything I've ever hoped for about the human condition is completely insane.

David Davenport said...

...play, novel, poem or painting ...

Those are obsolete art forms.

Seriously.

Anonymous said...

JustMe, Axl Rose sang in his church's choir back when he was Bill Bailey.

Steve's theory dovetails nicely with the observation my girlfriend made about every gym we've been members of: the membership is at least 50% middle-aged male, but the music they play is aimed at 14-year old girls.

Scipio Africanus said...

@seismic puppy

"Davis went downhill when he got arty in his collaboration with Gil Evans."

Do you mean from that point on, or just the work he did with Gil Evans specifically? Because Miles's Second Quintet was maybe the best recorded group in Jazz history.

Seismic Puppy said...

In the competition between the Sisterhood and da sistaz for the soul of girls, looks like sistaz won. But sisterhood still holds the institutions.

Seismic Puppy said...

"The world is made up of bakers and bankers. Bakers bake the bread, but bankers own the dough."

--Beavis.

Anonymous said...

Teenage girls dominating the market doesn't explain why said teenage girls supposedly demand song after song in which they're called names and told they're are good for nothing other than extremely degrading sex acts.

You can't even say "fag" in popular culture anymore, yet you build an entire musical career on thinking up creative new ways to describe degrading whores/bitches/women/same diff. How is this reflecting the preferences of the teenage girl market and its buying power?

I grew up in the Internet era when people used to constantly trick each other into unknowingly viewing the Goatse.cx image. If the lyrics on a "mainstream" pop radio station are too shocking and disgusting for me, there's a problem.

Seismic Puppy said...

One of the unfortunate consequences of BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD is it got kids to think, 'being dumb and saying stupid things is, in and of itself, satirical and knowing.'

That wasn't Mike Judge's point, but don't expect dummies to understand.

And SOUTHPARK got many kids thinking, 'being abrasive, rude, crude, and ugly is, in and of itself, cutting-edge and libertarian.

I'm not sure what the point of Parker and Stone is.

Seismic Puppy said...

"You can't even say "fag" in popular culture anymore, yet you build an entire musical career on thinking up creative new ways to describe degrading whores/bitches/women/same diff."

But maybe gay rappers will one day call eachother 'fags' and 'fag' will be a cool word.

Anonymous said...

Let's not spay the puppy.

helene edwards said...

I hear new songs all the time that would have been classics if they had come out in 1979.

OK, maybe I just haven't been paying attention. Could you lay a couple on me?

not a hacker said...

The answer was supplied by a black guy standing next to me when a fight broke out in a basketball game in Berkeley a few years ago. He said to me, "black people are messed up, man."

agnostic said...

Lucius, Mahler was not a Victorian composer. His work comes from the rising-crime period of the turn of the century through the early 1930s.

Kids don't go to malls anymore, that's why they've been disappearing for 20 years. You've either not been paying attention, or are a Millennial with no awareness of the world before 1995.

The lack of slow dancing shows that they're too inhibited. A girl shaking her ass while a bunch of sex-starved dorks gawk at her is not an uninhibited scene. She has total self-awareness and self-control, the "this is why I'm hot" and "look but don't touch" behavior of attention whores.

PublicSphere said...

Steve,

Being in LA, do you ever listen to KCRW? Or ex-KCRW man Nic Harcourt's new Saturday show on KCSN? Unlike moronic commercial radio, it's self-consciously various in terms of genres. They play high-ish- brow Spanish-language pop like Julieta Venegas or Aterciopelados (i.e. music by Spanish-speaking white people) that of course is not played on any Latino or white commercial stations. They play any type of bluegrass, rap, post-punk, whatever, that is sufficiently self-conscious and sophisticated enough to impress the chunky-glasses and messenger-bag crowd.


This brand of music (famously despised by Mickey Kaus) is what I think pop music for grown-ups should basically be like. Of course, given how things are, it's basically music for the Starbucks / SWPL crowd.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/26/magazine/26HARCOURT.html?pagewanted=all

Anonymous said...

Kids don't go to malls anymore, that's why they've been disappearing for 20 years. You've either not been paying attention, or are a Millennial with no awareness of the world before 1995.

The guy's describing his personal experience and observations, and you're countering with long-term statistics that you read somewhere. Malls might not be the default youth destination anymore, but *kids still go to malls*.

It probably varies according to where you are. Every time I went to a mall in Washington state it was full of teenagers. Georgia, not so much.

Whiskey said...

Pretty much most of the comments here are spot on, echo what I blogged about some time ago:

1. Decline in the Black nuclear family means far less early training in Choir which required regular church attendance. Musical ability is not enough -- it requires training.

2. Decline in the nuclear family and rise of **unrestricted** female hypergamy unmediated by larger society, meant the end of soulful tales of longing and love by singers of both sexes (from say, Whitesnake's "Is This Love" to Marvin Gaye's duets with Tammy Tyrell) to poorly thought out celebrations of sex.

3. The decline of young White people meant that there was not enough support structure for young White musicians to gig around and get feedback, training, and explore commercial success. You could not have say, a band like Wall of Voodoo or the Bangles gig around, in their late teens, seeing what works and doesn't, and play Colleges, small nightclubs, and other venues in a sort of apprenticeship.

Now it is American Idol type corporate creation (the Monkees, Bow Wow Wow, Adam Ant, Backstreet Boys, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears) or nothing.

4. The decline of College/Alternative radio in favor of mono-culture Itunes means fewer exposure to new sounds/bands among young White consumers, historically the most adventurous and eclectic music consumers.

5. Female pre-teens to early teens driving music consumption, this has made music seem "gay" to many White male teens depriving us of the next David Coverdale, David Lee Roth, or Stan Ridgeway.

Related to this is Jersey Shore like sexual markets, putting a premium on hyper-aggression and a huge penalty for displays of artful mastery (think Robert Palmer, Frank Sinatra who was huge among young women in the 1940s, and the guys from Duran Duran).

Whiskey said...

Steve is right too about "I'm so sexy" stuff among White female singers:

Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Adele, the late Amy Winehouse, heck even emo-chick PJ Harvey and "Black Hearted Love" (a great tune and one that speaks directly to unadulterated female hypergamy for dark/dangerous/cruel men).

Yes Taylor Swift hits the market niche about female insecurity among White teens/tweens, but the others provide essentially morale-boosting ego-reinforcement.

The key of course is the lack of young White males who tend to be the most aggressive in exploring new ways of combining both harmony/melody and rhythm. The potential for brass instruments other than a bit of ska has gone unexplored, brass instruments together have an emotional power that current guitar-only music misses. Sadly on Keane seems to explore piano pop music, say what you want about the junkitude of Billy Joel in later years, his musicianship stands with Elton John (in early years, amazingly emotionally powerful) as one of the few examples of what the piano can do (OK, add Stevie Wonder to the list).

alonzo portfolio said...

Could I get a link to the Mickey Kaus music hate? Thanks.

Reg Cæsar said...

(My guess is that blacks have better vocal resonance for some as-of-yet-unknown reason). --SS

I've wondered about this, too, especially since discovering the secret to fooling foreigners into thinking you're a native speaker is to resonate your speech in the part of the head particular to that specific tongue.

My stepfather is the "exception that proves the rule" of greater black vocal resonance. He's of Irish and Scottish ancestry, and Hudson Valley WASP upbringing, and lanky in build.

Yet I've never heard any white man sound so African in the chest. With the right phonemes or diphthongs, he could pass for James Earl Jones, Geoffrey "Uncola" Holder, or Milton Nascimento.

His innate tendency to drawl-- one doesn't pick up a drawl in Westchester County, except perhaps in Sing Sing!-- just adds to the effect. I wonder if this is related to his (long-under-control) epilepsy...

edgy gurl said...

"1. Decline in the Black nuclear family means far less early training in Choir which required regular church attendance. Musical ability is not enough -- it requires training."

Have you ever been to a black church?

Seismic Puppy said...

From Born to be Wild to Porn to be Child.

Seismic Puppy said...

"Do you mean from that point on, or just the work he did with Gil Evans specifically? Because Miles's Second Quintet was maybe the best recorded group in Jazz history."

Is that the one with Bill Evans and Coltrane and Addlerly or Addleton or whatever? If yes, then the credit goes more to other guys than Davis.

Kylie said...

"Country has narrowly defined white tradition in terms of hayseed hee haw."

Yes, with more than a little of the trailer park mentality thrown in.

"Listen to country music, and you get the sense that there was no past before country music or the world outside country music."

I get the sense there was no country music before the double-wide trailer became popular. To me, it sounds suspended in the present with no reference to any time further back than the recent past (20 years or so).

"There is a rich tradition of folk music outside the country format. Take all these Civil War songs. Wonderful stuff."

Sacred harp singing is another such form of traditional folk music.

"Some might say today's country is different. It's more 'inclusive'. But all this means is that country music is more imitative of MTV sensibility and added more skankdom to its style."

It had to lose the individuality that gave it authenticity in order to be sufficiently commercial.

Nice analysis, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Kids don't go to malls anymore? The kids from the my SWPL town go to the local mall to buy heroin from the kids from shitty Hispanic-dominated city nearby.

PublicSphere said...

Alonzo portfolio,

Don't let me stop you from Googling, but sure. Kaus has described former KCRW mastermind Harcourt (see NYT link above) as "soul-sapping," "painful and formulaic," with "barely enough on-air personality to sustain a prepositional phrase," and perhaps most vehemently:

"I was going to call Harcourt's dreary parade of breathy, self-absorbed, suffocating pop "yuppie shopping music," except that if stores actually played Harcourt's synapse-numbing choices the economy would grind to a halt!"


http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/kausfiles/2007/04/the_dont_tell_mama_voters.single.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/kausfiles/2005/06/up_to_a_point_lord_kinsley.html

To be fair, this music does tend toward the bland at points. But so does mainstream pop. The difference is that the KCRW mix has enough novelty to be stimulating even if you're a grown-up.

Lucius said...

@Agnostic: Well, I just listened tonight to Brahms' Second (1877) and Third (1883) Symphonies, and they sounded pretty damned high-crime impassioned to me.

Maybe it was all that Bismarkian tension creeping into his soul.

Granted, these were the Sawallisch London Philharmonic performances of the early 90s, generally less beloved than his earlier, Vienna Symphony readings of the early 60s. Perhaps Cold War triumphalism deadened something in the players that was alive in a Vienna that could recall the milieu of "The Third Man"?

Look, I do appreciate your effort to come up with some intriguing, sweeping theory of it all, but this is just impossibly reductive. Maybe you should consider how *idealistic* that world of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven was. Cf. "Beyond Good and Evil", the aphorism that begins with Mozart, goes through Beethoven dancing round the Tree of Liberty planted by Rousseau, and ends by trashing Schumann's Romanticism.

Anyway, war and revolution are ot the same as "crime." Or at least, if you want to be moralistic, admit that "criminals" like Napoleon did inspire a lot of people.

Anyway, Queen Victoria doesn't really apply to Vienna, no?

Truth said...

"My stepfather is the "exception that proves the rule" of greater black vocal resonance... I've never heard any white man sound so African in the chest. .. I wonder if this is related to his (long-under-control) epilepsy..."

Or maybe your daddy's just passing like Dr. James Watson -- My bruva.

I have a feeling you to might have quite an interesting death- bed conversation.

Anonymous said...

Black music has always been disproportionately more about sex songs than love songs - blues, jazz, soul are all like that - it's one of the most distinguishing features of black music compared to almost every other ethnic group.

(Which is interesting from an evolutionary perspective.)

The big difference with rap is how much more nasty and hostile it is towards women than the older forms were. At the same time white music has more sex songs and less love songs than it used to have.

So i'd say it's a combination of those two inherent differences and the general post-war corruption of the mainstream culture that has inevitably come about through having it controlled by a minority ethnic group who are at least partly hostile to the majority.

Buzz Kill Aldrin said...

Baseball is broadway. Basketball is jazz. Football is rap.

Maybe this is true on Planet Ihavenoideawhatinthehellyou'retalkingabout or wherever it is you come from, but here on Planet Earth I have no idea what in the hell you're talking about.

Truth said...

"But all this means is that country music is more imitative of MTV sensibility and added more skankdom to its style."

I take it you're too young for Hee-Haw.

Steve Sailer said...

"I hear new songs all the time that would have been classics if they had come out in 1979.

"OK, maybe I just haven't been paying attention. Could you lay a couple on me?"

I was going to say Weezer's 2009 hit "Girl (If You're Wondering ...) would have been one of the biggest New Wave hits of 1979-1981, but now I realize that the lead singer for Weezer is in his 40s, so I'm just showing my age.

edgy gurl said...

"I take it you're too young for Hee-Haw."

The thing is: kicker dancin' is fun and you don't have to be gay to do it. And while I can't stand most popular country music, bluegrass almost always includes songs from our earliest history.

What do you plan on listening to once you're over 40?

Lucille said...

At least give examples of what you are talking about. "As far as I can tell, most pop songs these days by female singers are about "I'm so sexy."

Give an example.


"Tik Tok" by Ke$ha

Seismic Puppy said...

"Baseball is broadway. Basketball is jazz. Football is rap."

"Maybe this is true on Planet Ihavenoideawhatinthehellyou'retalkingabout or wherever it is you come from, but here on Planet Earth I have no idea what in the hell you're talking about."

Baseball is a very old-fashioned game.
Basketball isn't just about strength but rhythm and flow.
Football is head-to-head bashing and slamming. It is the most beastly of sports.

Anonymous said...

Now this is a song

dcite said...

"Take all these Civil War songs. Wonderful stuff. But it's not country-ish in style, so most of it's been forgotten. There are also many ethnic traditions in American folk music, but since they aren't part of Nashville formula, they too have been sidelined."

That's so true. Country is said to descend from Irish, Scottish and old English tunes, but almost no country songs have ever reminded me of Irish, Scottish or old English songs performed by people from those cultures, and this is nothing to do with accents. It's the whole sound--just toally different even though,rationally, I can see a common thread.
There are also songs used by blacks, I guess from the gospel tradition, that are directly taken from Irish, Scottish, or old English. The documentary "Eyes on the Prize" used one, that had been used during the civil rights demonstrations of the 60s. I heard the exact same melody in a traditional Irish ballad dating back centuries. In fact, the black gospel tune was closer to the original than a lot of white country.
Another old Scottish melody is "Amazing Grace", which seems to transcend race-association, and is a favorite among both black and white.

The Robot said...

Steve, you do remember you're a boomer, right? So what are you doing talking about classic songs being produced after the "classic rock" era of the 70s? Boomers all know that music stopped progressing and turned to crap after that era, or not long after. Further, why on Earth do you know what sludge metal is? (Don't worry, I'm not accusing you of being a fan.) You're one hip grandpa.

Truth said...

I'm 45

The point is that country music has always had a fair level of skankdom.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da8sZyXeHn8

David Davenport said...

"But all this means is that country music is more imitative of MTV sensibility and added more skankdom to its style."

I take it you're too young for Hee-Haw.


Not too young for Colt Ford's No Trash in My Trailer.

Some of the peepul in that vid are indubitably of authentic Scots-Irish descent.

David Davenport said...

Or, if you prefer, a very old and traditional tune, the topic of which might be appropriate for a rap version:

Knoxville Girl - The Louvin Brothers

Anonymous said...

Commenter Title in Caps calls what they now want narcisso-fascism. As far as I can tell, most pop songs these days by female singers are about "I'm so sexy.



It's worth mentioning that most songs "by female singers" are not written by those singers. The songs are written by professional song writers, and usually by male professional song writers. Toby Gad, for instance has made a very nice career for himself out of putting pretty words in the mouths of a lot of female pop stars.

Anonymous said...

There's a huge amount of cross-fertilization in music now. A rock band will hear a riff in black or gypsy music and incorporate it in a power ballad.

Changing gears, here is a clip of Planxty, perhaps the best ever folk music group, performing the old English folk tune "The Blacksmith". They really get to jamming at the end of this. It's not the popular image of folk music, even rock fans might appreciate this.

Famous folk singer Christy Moore is seen all the way to the right, though he does not sing here.

edgy gurl said...

"The point is that country music has always had a fair level of skankdom."

The point is that you are over 40 which means:

-easy listening

-jazz

-some form of country

-ballroom dancing including the tango and nice clothes

or

-line dancing to working class country lyrics and/or instrumentals in your jeans

The brits have evolved a preference for latin pop music along with couples dancing to it; though I can't say what they wear when doing so.

So you're getting older and look like a dufus when observed listening to popular music from your era or the current one. No winning here.

Deal with it, Truth.

Anonymous said...

Country is said to descend from Irish, Scottish and old English tunes, but almost no country songs have ever reminded me of Irish, Scottish or old English songs performed by people from those cultures



Rock and roll is said to have blues roots, but you'd have a hard time finding R&R which sounds like 1930's blues music. "Descended from" is not the same as "sounds like".

Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music.

So I would not expect it to sound much like Irish or English folk music.

Anonymous said...

check out the lyrics of this popular "teeny bopper" song from Katy Perry called "Last Friday Night"



If Perry wrote a single word of that song I'll eat my mousepad. The ubiquitous Max Martin is responsible, along with Łukasz Gottwald, who gave us "Tik Tok".

Truth said...

I mostly listen to old school rap, album oriented rock and eclectic ambient.

David Davenport said...

It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music.

Wrong, backwards.

White people of the American Southwest were and are mostly from the American South. White people migrating within the USA in older days tended to move west along lines of latitude.

So I would not expect it to sound much like Irish or English folk music.

"Western cowboy and folk music --> roots in American South --> roots in British Isles.

Consider, for example Streets of Laredo

From Wikipedia:

Origin

"Streets of Laredo" (Roud 2)[1], also known as the "Cowboy's Lament", is a famous American cowboy ballad in which a dying cowboy tells his story to a living one. Derived from the English folk song "The Unfortunate Lad", it has become a folk music standard, and as such has been performed, recorded and adapted numerous times, with many variations.

The old-time cowboy Frank H. Maynard (1853-1926) of Colorado Springs, Colorado, claimed authorship of the revised Cowboy's Lament, and his story was widely reported in 1924 by the journalism professor Elmo Scott Watson, then on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[2]

...

The song is widely considered a traditional ballad, and the origins are not entirely clear. It seems to be primarily descended from a British folk song of the late 18th century called "The Unfortunate Rake", which also evolved (with a time signature change and completely different melody) into the New Orleans standard "St. James Infirmary Blues". The British ballad shares a melody with the British sea-song "Spanish Ladies". The Bodleian Library, Oxford, has copies of a nineteenth-century broadside entitled "The Unfortunate Lad", which is a version of the British ballad.[3] Some elements of this song closely presage those in the "Streets of Laredo" and in the "St. James Infirmary Blues".

...

So I would not expect it to sound much like Irish or English folk music.

So I would not expect you to sound like someone who knows what he's talking about.

zack k said...

Much of this is self-perpetuating but it is clear that commercial radio today is all corporate owned and homogeneous which debases popular music even more and pushes away more listeners

In the 1980's when I was a kid our local radio stations were curated by DJs and to some extent reflected their place (mine being San Francisco)

Now you get this from non profit radio.

I listen to this station quite a bit now:

http://kexp.org/

Here the DJs are professionals who expose me to great new music because there is still a lot out there

Anonymous said...

"The big difference with rap is how much more nasty and hostile it is towards women than the older forms were. At the same time white music has more sex songs and less love songs than it used to have."

I've noticed that too. Since the majority of Black men are raised in households without a father figure present why is that? You would think that most rap songs would be dissing the absent fathers. No? This would be espescially true given the legendary loyalty that Black men are purported to have to their mothers (you can get killed for dissing a man's mother in the ghetto or so I understand).

I suppose one could infer that men raised without fathers gravitate to a youth oriented feral gang culture where the ony loyalty is to your brother gang banging homey and so women in general are the "other"?

Still the misogny is stunning(e.g. women are either "bitches or hoes") with hardly a peep from leftist feminist groups.

I am sure Whisky has an explanation for this, you know Alpha male, etc.. . and of course given the group dynamics of cultural marxism leftist feminist women may not be keen on antagonizing one of their minority ally groups(ie. the Black community).

I certainly have noted what appears to be a statiscally significant increase in Black men White women couples in my own town(it's pretty hard to miss) over the last twenty years so maybe Whisky is on to something.

Maybe their is a type of assortive mating (similar to the type purported to occur with high IQ people of different races who meet at school or work) going on with traditional White women opting for country music or Gothic rock (another implicitly White genre)or other types of music and less traditional more lefist MSM oriented women opting for MSM approved big city Black culture and similarly inclined mates?