Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Irony of Old Pop

The very basis of pop art, according to Richard Hamilton, the British visual pop artist, includes attributes of transience, gimmicks, orientation towards youth, and being disposable. In a recent article in the Telegraph, the author discuses the divide between the industry of pop music and the audience's clamor for reunion tours. The author writes, "Much of rock continues to pay lip service to the concept of rebellion, while adhering to musical formulas, fashions and attitudes established by people old enough to be grandparents."

Irony exists in the absurdity of rebellion financed by corporate interests, but it is equally interesting that older musicians are still reaping the rewards of a system based on the foundation that young and sexy are preferable. If a musician is able to transcend the disposable system which made him, one shouldn't expect that same system to offer continued support.

From the Christian perspective, all of this begs the question of the suitability of transient, gimmicky, disposable musical styles as a bearer of profound, permanent, and absolute truth.


jim Monson said...


On 'The Irony of Old Pop' --- You've said it all in your Glory and Honor book on Bach. I've 'lived' on Bach, from fugues to cantatas, since high school days, and when I recently stumbled upon your book I finally found someone who finally put my thoughts into words. I just ordered multiple copies to give to close friends. This blog states well what you say so elegantly at various places throughout the book.

Wish you lived nearer so we could together look at WTC2 F sharp minor fugue, an stunning musical statement on the Trinity (ONE hidden theme which abides in Three).

Greg said...


Thank you for your kind words about Glory and Honor. Needless to say, it was fun to write.

I appreciate your comments. Have you read Evening in the Palace of Reason by James Gaines?

The more one knows about Bach, it seems the more there is to know and the more there is to apply to our own feeble attempts at creating music that is accessible yet excellent.

Logan said...

Mr. Wilbur,

I had been looking recently for a way to phrase all of what you said here, oddly enough. I'm a musician of sorts and, as such, I take offense at the current state of things in the music business. Though, more than offensive, I find the processed state of modern rock bands comedic.

I mean, like was said in the article, if they are making so much noise about rebelling against "the Man" and authority in general--and, as is often the case, corporate america--then why are they working for massive record labels (usually owned by Viacom, one of the largest corporations in the world)? The whole thing is absolutely absurd.

The entire ordeal just makes me think of hamsters. Hamsters have their little spinning wheels and their food and their lovely water bottles, and they can run on the wheel and they can eat the food and drink the water, and--were they blessed with sentience--would think they were doing it all because they chose do. In reality, however, they are doing it all because their owner forces them to by putting them in the cage.

I fear becoming a hamster, and that fear has bred vigilance in my heart and mind, that I may never become trapped without realizing it. For, if that were to happen, I would not be able to be of any use to the world aside from what my masters--be it media or dictators--allow me to be.

Logan said...

Wow, that was an obscenely long comment. My apologies. Perhaps I'm just a little bit passionate.

Greg said...


I appreciate your passions and look forward to future discussion with you along these lines.