“Is this the world we created?”
When I was growing up it was called “having standards”.
In computer terms it got called GIGO – short for Garbage In = Garbage Out.
Then people started thinking that was too “stuffy” and unaccepting of those who weren’t wealthy enough to have standards. Referring to garbage in such derogatory terms was judgmental.
As a result, everyone let their world fill up with garbage that was unable to be acknowledged. Our kids will leave garbage on the floor because they don’t want to see it. It doesn’t mean it isn’t there or it isn’t garbage.
The other day a friend sent me a video that had rather upset him. I don’t blame him as once I got over the immediate desire to punch this merchant of stupidity fair between his silly beard and overly shiny cap it was clear that not only could this person not put that stupid cap on properly but he could not tell music from ego-noise. His output was garbage. Calling himself a Pro Producer didn’t change anything – except make it worse.
In this video the guy said how skilled he was then proceeded to lay some really naff preset loops out of a loop-pack over each other. He applied some preset effects and even a mastering preset over the whole lot. That is like building a house with four bits of corrugated iron and some string you found lying around and calling it a worthwhile exercise. You do it if you can’t do better but you never claim it to be as good as the Taj Mahal. That last bit is having standards.
My friend spoke of his concern for the rottenness of standards in this video in a forum with other “musicians” who proceeded to dump on his criticism. They diverted his real point that this was garbage being presented as the equal of real work to trivialities, like saying “using presets was fine”.
Garbage is normalized
Noticing it is garbage is punished
Music is a form of self-expression. If a preset gets you there so be it. Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” starts with a preset from the Synclavier. In his defense, the synth was new so the sound was not played out. More importantly, the song itself is a great piece of work. Even the preset is used really well – as part of telling the story.
None of this is about presets, that is a strawman distraction from those trying to justify their garbage habit. The issue is that the noise being made is not music in that is has no story to tell and is, therefore, garbage. Yet it is being sold as wonderful work.
Darling It Hurts
It used to be that if you were making a song you knew that it had to stand up against the Eagles, Pink Floyd, ABBA, Duran Duran… These things were wonderful work. They had good standards (and became standards).
If you were making a song, it had to be able to have credibility. Not everyone liked the Sex Pistols, but they had credibility. Their music was rough (deliberately so) but it had wonderful story. Same with Venom, Black Flag, Front 242. Even New Kids On Block altho I will admit some of that material was rather thin.
I recently watched a video of a performance by U2 before they were anything. It was rough. It wandered. It lurched from sounding like The Cure to a broken Bay City Rollers. But there was something. They were working their way towards “I Will Follow”, “New Year’s Day”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. It was in there. There was an edge (a pair of em actually hihi). While it lacked any polish, it was not garbage because it was trying to say something.
The video of Greta von Zeppelin live at Red Rock I turned off before the first song was over was an embarrassment compared to that early U2 track – esp seeing U2 at Red Rock was stellar (Under A Blood Red Sky).
Look So Fine, Feel So Low
Yes the von Zeppelin boys were wearing nattier duds than early U2. Yes their mix was more Pro-fect. But it was pointless noise. Garbage.
These guys with beards and hats they can’t work out how to wear peddling garbage as “pro” work are worse again. Those who pretend that their “Beat” (not even proper usage of the word) is the equal of anything done by the Eagles, Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols, Public Enemy… I’ll let Adam Ant sing it out for me:
Well I’m standing here looking at youAdam And The Ants – Ant Music
What do I see? I’m looking straight through
It’s so sad when you’re young
To be told you’re having fun
So unplug the jukebox and do us all a favor
That music’s lost it’s taste so try another flavor
Antmusic, antmusic, antmusic, antmusic
Well I’m standing here what do I see?
A big nothing threatening me
It’s so sad when you’re young
To be told you’re having fun
Shoot Your Shot
It is far cooler to see Keith Richards looking like he stepped off a pirate ship that just rolled an opium train (a mixed metaphor I fear) than to see him in YSL slacks and a Ralph Loren polo but Keith in anything looks like something.
George Benson is as likely to appear in those YSL slacks and a Ralph Loren polo but blow me down if he still don’t look like something.
My point here is that substance is a result of having standards and working damned hard to deliver something of value. Indulging in garbage can only deliver the opposite. No matter how many YouBoob Plays you get.
Those two men will have a place in history. They have earned that. Even if the apocalypse happens, someone in the dusty, irradiated future can still find a Rolling Stones or George Benson record and realize that there is value in what they did, what they said, what they gave. Their best.
The reason for my immediate drive to want to beat the smug faces of the garbage purveyors is that they are unwilling to have a real go. They don’t want to commit to doing anything because they are afraid. They cover that with silliness, inane rules, and worship of garbage. They actively deny anything that is better than what they do lest they feel challenged in their bubble of fear. They become a cancer on being a real Human Being.
I see my response as healthy, as healthy as finding spoiled meat better buried than eaten. To do otherwise, no matter the self-serving social-engineering ethos, is merely “stooping”, i.e. not having standards.
Not having standards means that it is only a matter of time before your whole world is garbage and you can’t see it. You only know that something is wrong.
I am angry that we let it get this far. That I let it get this far. Even tho I have fought all along as best I could I still feel that it is my fault. I am really sad that I ended up in a generation where doing good work was the surest way to get tossed on the scrapheap – whilst people party in their garbage. Each to their own – if it were that way but it is not. The garbage purveyors have ensured that only they have the right to an income, to “respect”. I am sad that nothing I do seems able to change this mess. I am sad and angry at the same time that all the work I put into learning my craft to the best of my ability is worth less than nothing seeing even offers to help another free of $cost is met with rudeness, as though I insulted them by suggesting that their shit did stink. I am sad that my life feels like it has become a waste because I dare to have standards. It is not in me to give up – yet anyway.