Music Matters

IPods now have video, games, audio books and podcasts. Will iPods always be about the music?
Who knows? But it’s hard to imagine that music is not the epicenter of the iPod, for a long, long, long, long, long time.  I was very lucky to grow up in a time when music really mattered.  It wasn’t just something in the background; it really mattered to a generation of kids growing up. It really changed the world. I think that music faded in importance for a while, and the iPod has helped to bring music back into people’s lives in a really meaningful way. Music is so deep within all of us, but it’s easy to go for a day or a week or a month or a year without really listening to music. And the iPod has changed that for tens of millions of people, and that makes me really happy, because I think music is good for the soul. – Steve Jobs, Newsweek 2003

Music has taken a backseat in today’s culture.  Some would say it’s been relegated to the trunk rather than the backseat.  The Industry has so contained it and controlled it, that it has become safe, predictable, and gives you a shadow of the emotional impact it used to.  Now I’m not one to keep harkening back to the “glory days” when everything was better, but these are not the days of a musical renaissance.  We need them now more than ever!  Music can do things no other art form can: penetrate a place in people that words can’t do alone.  This is true for all genres and stripes of music:  Rock, Pop, Country, Gospel, etc., etc., etc.

It’s interesting how computers and computer companies get all the buzz in society today.  The quote from Steve Jobs above is so ironic, because he is probably the biggest “rock star” in the world today.  What used to define rock musicians – cutting edge, mystery, impact – now are best seen in a corporate CEO.  That’s weird.  But, as you can see from his quote, he understands what makes culture click and he’s used some of the elements of the power of music to thrust Apple’s products into the cultural consciousness.

The only problem with this (and believe me I’m into Macs:) is that we’re now celebrating the method of delivery instead of what’s being delivered.  That’s like being so excited about the envelope but just ho-hum about the check inside it.  How crazy would that be?  Instead of focusing intently on the quality and power of the artists, songs, musicianship, we’re focused on the type of computer, or iPhone, or iTunes, or streaming.  These things are fun to talk about if you’re interested in computers, but they are not as important as the art being delivered.  That’s the product that can change hearts and change the world.

So, may there be a new renaissance: a renaissance of music, a renaissance of making the important things important again.

 (And it goes not just for music, but, as I wrote last week, the American Church is doing the same things by stressing production and venue over the content of services and the spiritual experiences of people.  How can the setting and the method of delivery be more important than what you’re delivering?)