I was on a night drive with an artist friend–sometime we go up to Grizzly Peak so we can sit and talk philosophy, art, music and life while staring at one of the most amazing views of the Bay Area that you will ever see. Mostly the other people parking up there are smoking bongs, drinking and making out, but being the prude I am, that’s not what I do up there, I’m that girl who actually wants to talk. I know, how annoying. Can’t help it. I’m turned on by tantalizing conversation.
Anyhow, we were up there talking about music. I was talking about how I recently realized my world is pretty wide open now, it’s just choosing what to do next and how to do it. “I want to do a tour in Europe someday,” I said. “But I’m doing now at 31 what I should have been doing at 20.”
“That’s just stupid,” my artist friend said. “What better time than now?”
I’ve been geeking out on this book Krautrocksampler by Julian Cope that someone linked on Facebook a while back. (You can’t get it in print unless you wanna spend a couple hundred bucks, I checked.)
It covers a genre of music coming out of West Germany in the late ’60s. Musicians in German culture at the time struggled with making music that fit the climate of that German era. They were somewhat influenced by various American and British artists in fits and starts but not as a whole, because the musicians in Germany were mostly outside the sphere of American and British culture and influence, and what was working in those cultures didn’t fit German culture.
Krautrock was born through bands like Amon Duul and Can and Tangerine Dream. It wasn’t a specific pinned movement, more of a collective manifestation of many different artists ideas being honeda t the time. Krautrock lent influence to electronic music, post-punk, and ambient music as well as many other genres.
There’s a cool documentary I watched back in November that kind of covers the heart of Krautrock, which was rocking just to rock, it definitely had that punk ethic of sticking it to the man and doing your own thing, experimentation, etc.
What stuck out to me while reading it today was that the members of Can were already in their thirties when they started the band. And this was the later ’60s. Why do we have this foolish idea that you expire once you get out of your twenties if you haven’t gone big?
It’s a myth perpetuated by the media. Well, not entirely a myth, if you want to “make it big,” whatever that means these days, but what is striking me in digging through the annals of punk, post-punk, krautrock, black metal, and classical music history is that we are due for something different. Why not create something that will make history of this moment? Sure, we regurgitate the past again and again, but history is filled with examples of musicians taking their particular moment in history and either combining everything that came before to make something inexplicably new and perfect, or blowing people out of the water with something entirely unpredicted.
People seem to whine and moan in a pretentious manner that music is crap these days and music is dead and there’s nothing new under the sun, but I beg to differ. We can keep making good shit. So few people take the time to actually look into the archives of music history, myself included. I devoured whatever music I could get my hands on from a young age, but now, the music I’m discovering is blowing the music I was listening to out of the water and I’m realizing just how much mainstream media affected my musical sensibilities and access to music growing up.
Now, with the internet and iPhones and scanners and iPods, access to recording tools, affordable instruments, the removal of the middle man, the sky is the limit, we just have to think outside the bounds of “career,” and “sales,” and “market demand,” and think into the skyline of “epic” and “experimental,” “outlasting its creator.” Throw away all the lines and binds of conventional music making and think on a grander scale, a scale that cannot be defined or boxed in.
We don’t have a hall pass for writing good music that spontaneously self-destructs like Inspector Gadget’s already read letters once we hit a certain age. No! Life is for continuous learning. We are never too old to learn about music, play music and share music. That’s just what they say on the tely. In the subcultures and in regions all over the world, people are rocking out way into their 80′s.
On another note, listening to Tangerine Dream while trying to nap is truly trippy. Who needs acid?