Music & Politics: The Day The Music Died.
In times of stress, depression or anger people have always turned to music to relax and relieve emotional pain. For many it is an escape, a religious and therapeutic experience. Music is also a gift to this dark world and brings people together. Musicians were tasked with the responsibility to entertain, speak the truth and inspire those who listen. Somehow, throughout history this art form has lost its meaning and purpose.
Fast forward to 2021, with the likes of Cardi B and others, music has lost its roots and has been dumbed down to suit the masses. It takes very little to no talent to become an artist these days. There is no longer any real musicianship, poetry or writing involved. Thanks to autotune and music software programs, with the right gimmick the lowest common denominator can make it as long as they have a strong following. YouTube and Sound Cloud are to blame for this degradation of quality music. Talented artists are overlooked in favor of whoever is the raunchiest or most shocking. The number Instagram followers has replaced the years of mastery of a musical instrument.
My escape from the mainstream garbage is Heavy Metal. It was and still is, my refuge from the world. Concerts are my place of worship, where I could surround myself in the presence of other like-minded individuals. Heavy Metal music provides a sense of community, belonging and kinship among its fans. It’s the very reason why Metal Fans are the most supportive and still actually purchase albums and merchandise. Since most are musicians themselves, they understand the struggles, especially since Metal isn’t mainstream and is very limited on local radio stations. What I love most about Metal is that it’s always evolving, yet always stays true to its roots.
I understand that the last two presidential administrations weren’t the best. A lot of people were as unhappy with Obama as others were with Trump. Music was an escape from all of that, offering solace in a chaotic world. A way to bring people together and to unite them. Something to make us all forget about what’s going on politically and to allow us to connect to one another on an emotional and spiritual level. Which is why I became very disappointed in my favorite band, Machine Head over the last few years.
When I first listened to Machine Head, I got chills. Their music was very powerful and Robb, the lead singer has a special way of combining heavy vocals with beautiful singing and songwriting. Their lyrics were always very powerful and metaphorical and moved me in such a way that I never thought possible. Even the political undertones were eloquently presented in their music. However, something snapped within Robb over these last few years that made the music less authentic and more ranty. It has gotten so bad, that all the original members quit one by one. They couldn’t handle Robb’s ultra leftist views and felt forced to write music that was politically charged and were attacked for even suggesting to move the band in a different direction.
It was no longer about the music and became all about pushing an agenda. Even their music and social media pages are no longer about the music. Almost every post is the ranting of a lunatic. I don’t care who you support, because we all have the freedom and right to our opinions. But, when you start insulting your fans and accusing them of being racist and bigoted and start cursing them out at shows and on the Internet, that’s when I have to walk away. After years of loyalty and hours spent listening to Machine Head, I felt like I was no longer accepted or welcomed as a fan for having neutral views. It felt like I was either forced to pick a side or choose to never go to another Machine Head concert again. Sadly, I chose the latter.
There was a time when I wanted to get a Machine Head tattoo because of how touched I was by their music and how it helped get through some pretty rough times in my life. Now, I’m relieved that I didn’t. I even wrote them a letter and gave it to them at a Meet-and-Greet in New York City. I didn’t get to meet Robb that day because he was hit by a cab and in the hospital recovering just hours before the show. I guess it wasn’t meant to be because sometimes when you meet your heroes you are often left disappointed. It saddens me how I can no longer listen to my favorite band and enjoy their music. To me, it feels like Robb started a completely different band and in a way, he has.
The world is divided enough. Musicians are supposed to bring the peace and unite us in our love for the music. When they start to further divide us like Robb has, then music is no longer sacred. It becomes just as trashy as Cardi B singing about her diseased vagina. Yes, people could argue that Machine Head’s music has always been politically charged, but it was done in a more subtle, respectable and artistic way. Now, it’s more inflammatory, accusatory and in your face. Fans are basically told that if they don’t choose the side that Robb supports that they are the enemy. A lot of the fans are just over it, especially when they feel attacked by someone they admire and look up to. I am asking all musicians, unless you’re Rage Against the Machine, please keep some things sacred and leave extreme politics out of music.