The Kids are Alright


What does the awesome image above and the title of a Who song have in common?
I am blessed to work with kids and it never fails that if I want to get their attention all I have to do is plug my laptop into a set of speakers and let Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, John Lee Hooker, Fred McDowell, Sonny Boy Williamson, Etta James, The Beatles, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, or any other great artist do the talking. Kids respond to music and here is why things are hopeful on the home front.
Musicians are oft to be frustrated with pirating of music and the “free models” that are the norm now. I am one of them to a certain extent but realize I have to embrace that the present and coming musical consumer and lover expects more out of me as an artist. They win and it is no use even trying to fight it. It did not exactly win Metallica any awards.
The sunny side of this whole thing is that I notice something much different with the musical ears of the younger folk: they are broad. Why? They have access to everything ever recorded. Used to be, almost like partisan politics, everyone planted themselves in a camp. “I am this (insert genre here) and all I listen to is (insert genre here).” Sure there were those who shopped around, I was one of them hence my love for obscure blues, but it came at a financial cost. Basically it was more economical to be a shallow music lover back in the day. Not the case now and to my great surprise youngsters are more like hipsters of old in their appreciation of music. It is all just becoming music again, at least to them, where before everything was labeled and exclusive to certain groups. One girl told me that she sometimes has to justify to her friends, who are exclusively hip hop listeners, that she likes country music, and rock, and folk, and just about anything else as long as it makes her feel something. It was as simple as her response when I played some Sam Cooke and she said “see this is the kind of music where you just sit out on your porch on a good warm day, drink some lemonade, and just listen.” It does not get much more appreciative than that.
The kids coming up are ready to appreciate the sonic qualities posed by the painting above. What does that mean to you as an artist?
One thing it means to me: Stop genre hunting and make good music. And another: Seek what the old heads sought and you can’t miss if you are genuine.
The Kids are Alright!
Now go give them something to listen to.

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