People keep saying that the times we’re living in today are much like the ones back in the 60’s; civil rights, women’s rights, anti-war marches, anti- discrimination. Tumultuous days.

I agree – to to an extent.

You know what’s missing, strangely? The pop and rock songs of today don’t reflect the protests of today and aren’t ringing the bell like they did back then.

Art isn’t reflecting the times we’re living in. It feels to me like we’re wrapping up our feelings in cellophane. Looks like a tight package from the outside but we’re held stiff.

One genre gets it: rap. But rap gets the short shrift.  Did you watch the Grammy’s? Then you get what I mean.

I’m not a die-hard fan of rap. I’m more drawn to a beautiful melody. But I can appreciate the art form.

And I study the genre as a songwriter. You know what I’ve noticed? Rap lyrics are much more interesting and honest than the pop and rock stuff. I admire that it doesn’t FILTER.  It rings the bell… reflects real life.

Music makers in the pop and rock genre (I happen to be one)  – we aren’t ringing the bell much. What I hear seems filtered. But there’s plenty to make noise about.

The music business doesn’t exactly encourage taking risks today. Instead, it seems to want compromise and staying in a lane in order to sell product and scale to the masses.

Big business owns the art. BUT: big business can’t make the art.

Singer-songwriters in the 60’s were fierce. They made music because the music needed to be made. Protest songs, so to speak. They expressed their humanity, their joys and their sorrows. Without a filter.

My goal as a songwriter is to do that. But I need reminding.

I watched an excellent documentary last weekend about an artist who came up in the sixties… older folks would know her name: Nina Simone.

Nina was ahead of her time; full of musical talent and insights. Her freedom was her expression.

I imagine being her and living in those times… how might I express?

I’ve been trying to absorb and sort all the stuff that’s been pelting us lately. #MeToo #BlackLivesMatter #Dreamers

It’s a lot, right?

I want to scream at my television sometimes. Rip off the cellophane.

But then eventually, I go and write.

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