Eight minutes and fifty-seven seconds.
That was the length of Guns N’ Roses massive 1991 hit song November Rain. We loved the epic song and the much more versatile video and might also have been able to sequence each scene in our minds even before the video came on screen (and probably can still do!), but we didn’t know that the video was eight minutes and fifty-seven seconds. We knew that it was long, but we didn’t know exactly how much (that we learn from online video services like YouTube). But did we mind that we were ignorant about the length of the song?
No, we were not. Because those were the great old days of MTV. Even though the channel is still around in India and in most parts of the world, the ‘M’ that used to stand for Music has now dropped down to zero music played on the channel. We were entertained, hummed along to the tunes, without having lyrics.com or Google help us to decipher the heavy Americanized accent. But we didn’t care.
We didn’t care when we sang “We are going to eat pizza”, only to later learn that the girl was headed to Ibiza and it had nothing to do with food. We used to rewind, pause, write, play, and then redo the whole action again when we wanted to jot down the lyrics to Richard Marx’s Hazard, nearly scratching the tape in the process or out gun the number of clicks the C.D player button had been programmed to take.
But we turned to the music, because music made us happy.
And while the older generation berated us on our choice of loud, cross dressed and fast talking ‘colored’ men (it was called rap in those days and not ‘hip hop’), we still tuned in picking up the styles and the dreamed that we too would have a band like The Wonders that would one day be seen on TV.
Maybe it’s the fast paced world that has left us with very little time to plonk ourselves in front on the idiot box, but reality, like that sung by The Buggles is that after Video Killed the Radio Star, it is now the turn of Music itself to slowly move into oblivion. Don’t get me wrong, music has always been around and stood the test of time and will continue to do so; it’s just the traditional way of arranging music that is changing. Music is now manufactured and not played in the way that it used to be with a traditional band made up of a drummer, bassist, lead/ rhythm guitarist, keyboardist to name a few key members. With Auto tune and various other software’s, people with hardly any musical inclination are ‘making music’ which is mostly nothing but various sounds merged to form notes that defy the very definition of the term music. The so called music, heavy with bass undertones and ‘drops’ are fed to a perennially ‘high’ generation that trips on the sounds that seem to have escaped from a dying cat.
Gone are the grand guitar riffs, the piano solos, the heavy thump of the bass drum and the tingling snare, along with a voice that could make the Sultans of Swing tap their feet and make you miss wearing Black Velvet.
The essential point is that artificially produced sounds are replacing the good old instruments. One now doesn’t need any skill to play live on stage. The entire ‘set’ can be pre-recorded and no one would ever know the difference. It’s good to see music evolve
In February of 2018, news that the iconic American guitar company Gibson, faced bankruptcy filled the news headlines. Many teenagers would not even know or care that after 116 years in the music business the company decided to shut down a couple of its factories due to low demand for its instruments. Log into YouTube and check how many ‘bands’ actually play their own music. Even popular rock acts like Imagine Dragons and Maroon 5 are slowly moving to synthesized sounds. How many of our younger generation know to hold, forget, play a guitar or a drum?
With the advent of VIVEO, the music video industry will certainly still be around but will the full ensemble band slowly fade in a Blaze of Glory?
P.S: to listen to some real and wholesome music search the artist known as Passenger (the link to his latest song is mentioned below)