There is a lot of talk lately about music, new vs. old, good vs. bad, etc. With the recent loss of greats such as Etta James, Johnny Otis & Jimmy Castor (in the soul world), many are feeling sadness at the thought of an important musical era coming to an end. The 1960s and 1970s provided just the right environment: politically, socially and musically, to fuel what exploded onto the scene in a collective musical genre that we call SOUL. A few years back, in 2006 to be exact, we lost one of the most legendary contributors to R&B, Funk and Soul (and beyond!), Mr. James Brown. A quick check on other Soul greats who passed that year adds the following to the list: Lou Rawls, Wilson Pickett and Billy Preston. And while we are spending time to remember those we lost most recently, in 2011, we lost a great talent in Nick Ashford of Ashford & Simpson fame; Dobie Gray, best known for "Out on the Floor" and "The "In" Crowd"; and Gil Scott-Heron, a socially active spoken word artist known for tunes such as "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", amongst others.
I guess the point that I would like to make here is that music is lasting. The message, the feeling, the melodies...all of these things have been preserved in recordings for future generations to discover and enjoy. Death is a strange thing and when it's someone who has been influential to pop culture, to your life's musical journey, or someone who has touched you personally, it is expected to make an impact on the way you see their individual contribution, as well as the music or movement or genre, on the whole.
I have realized that being born in the 1970s, as I was, thankfully gave me the link to the first half of the 20th Century that has been so influential to me and on the second half of the Century, but seems to be a distant memory now into the 21st Century. Because of this link, I have been exposed to music, culture, cars, fashion, etc. that most kids born in the mid 80s and beyond do not and will most likely never understand. Some of us out here are what can be called "old souls" and will tend to gravitate towards stuff from eras that we never lived through ourselves. But this is the most important thing to recognize and hold onto! Modern technology, pop culture and most notably, music, has brought about an abrupt change to our culture. Instead of appreciating true talents, society accepts digitally altered "talent" and the sad thing about it, is that it's eaten up! We are all too busy with our iPads, iPhones, Blackberry's, etc. to lift our heads up and look and listen to what's going on around us! If our society as a whole, blindly and silently, continues to accept the low quality, mass produced crap that is being offered up on not so shiny silver platters, we can only expect for things to continue to get worse. Mainstream has never been the stream I have flowed with. Humans are individuals and we should be proud of that, instead of trying to find a way to become assimilated with the rest of the millions of people out there. Eccentricity is a good thing! Individuality is a good thing! Embrace these things and find the path that is right for you!
...And now back to our beloved singers, songwriters and entertainers that have been lost, we must keep their talent alive. Share the music with anyone who will listen. Share the passion for their talents and remind the young ones coming up now, to dig. Dig into the past to find the influence for the future!