The weekend at the college didn't turn out like you planned.
The things that pass for knowledge, I can't understand ....
Don Fagen, "Steely Dan"
Groovin' to the early 70's sounds of the Jazz-Rock combo Steely Dan, I am delivered into a realm of times past when everything seemed a little fresher - a little freer. What the hell happened anyway? It sort of hurts, almost physically, to look back and, now, clearly see where and when things should have been made to transpire differently.
10 years ago, I was on stage - not playing to the crowds that Fagen and Becker enjoyed (and still do), but to my crowds - people that paid their monies to watch and listen to my band attempt to entertain them. Mostly wasted metal heads, they banged and jammed to the sounds that we tried so hard to deliver to them in perfectionist manner. Hey - just because it's called metal doesn't mean that there is not a lot of work - and pride - put into it from the bands. In fact, my personal experience tells me that metal bands work far more diligently than the bands from other, higher-selling genres.
But I was thinking - when does an aspiring musician have to admit that it may be time to hang it up? You know, LA, New York and Seattle really do not give a single thought to the fact that your efforts never paid off yet; they just don't care about the middle-aged-almost-had-been - especially in a music realm geared towards making the youth go wild with rebellion, and to live everyday with no thoughts of tomorrow. In fact, they would just as soon see you fall into the general scheme of life in America - serving the rich, the government and society.
Let me assure you that it leaves quite an unpleasant taste in the mouth of the 41 year old rebel.
But still the demands of society call out to you - it's impossible to escape. You have to try to force feed yourself the incessant demands from those around you - and to digest and assimilate them without taking on the cancers that they promote. And so that makes me think a little more.
Why do I have to subscribe to the accepted standards of others? To fit in? To be accepted? To prosper? To live the washed-up American Dream?
Not me. No way. Isn't going to happen. And I'll tell you why.
I wasn't put here to follow. There's no glory there for me and my kind. Life is an individual set of experiences to be contemplated and defined only by the persons at the receiving ends. What gives one person the right to even think about or comment on the experiences of others without explicit invitation? The obvious answer is that absolutely nothing does.
That's the entire basis of metal music - and to a large degree, every other type of music as well (except for country which doesn't really constitute as music to real musicians). You see, music isn't about getting famous, rich, admired or desired - although these things often result. Rather, music is an attempt to speak out, educate, enlighten and inspire others. Musicians are teachers who are often pissed off and misled. Still, they are teachers - and most often, they will offer you a new, or at least different, way of thinking about what is so commonly taken for granted by the masses.
Music is about rebellion. You can hear the passionate rebellion in the Classical works of Beethoven and Mozart. You can hear the painful rebellion in traditional Folk songs as they describe the abuses of minorities and the underprivileged. You can hear the bold urban rebellion of the Hip-Hop artists - and the trumped-up security that they create through their lyrics and sounds. And you can definitely hear the angry rebellion pushed into your brain from metal masters like Metallica, Overkill, Judas Priest and Metal Church. (By the way, did you realize that Metallica is the only band to ever have more albums debut at #1 on Billboard than did the Beatles? Thought not, but it is true).
Music teaches us that the common things that pass for knowledge are very often quite meaningless. Music begs you to listen deeply and just consider, for a moment at least, an alternative direction of thought. It asks you to consider representing yourself with free-formed ideas and life standards. You don't have to be afraid - and it doesn't matter if you are. The world is already taking full advantage of you rather you're afraid or not.
So, go grab some of your favorite music from the present - and the past. Take a new, deeper listen and learn what those words and sounds are truly trying to convey to you. It always means something - probably something you have been afraid to embrace - something you have buried in fear along the way.
M Alan Roberts is a radical thinker. He has a gimlet eye for injustice, much as did Frederich Engels, a century and a half before. Still, Roberts finds a way to write effective SEO copy. This suggests both sides of his brain, his mind, work equally well.
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