Greg Henry Waters Newsletter January 2005 The New Year is Here.

Just more hamburgers for another year!

 

Well folks, another year has gone by and where are we in this world? Is my question for this year.  My question is why is there so much pop music in the market place?  Here in the States, I did not hear any music of J.S. Bach over Christmas Holidays it was just all pop culture music.  Everything is a Mc Donald hamburger pre-made, pre-packaged and pre-eaten.  It is so full of chemicals it makes me feel sick when I have eaten them.  I get the same feeling with so much music out there it is all pre-made, pre-packaged and pre-listened too.

 

This is the culture today. Is the world going brain dead is my point.  Does anybody have real awareness of music or care?  Why is the guitar in every song on pop radio are not there other instruments.

 

My own instruments are starting to sound strange to me because of all the pop music I hear on TV, in Restaurants and in Coffee Houses.  My entire life seems to be meaningless when it comes to my art because I cannot expose it anywhere it does not live.  I listen to other recordings of artists and it is old hat. Where is the new music?  I listen to my music and it sounds different and new but who listens to it besides me?

 

Since, I have been back in the States I listen to the news and talk show sounds and the more I listen the sicker I become because most of it is a lot of nonsense. Are there any real people out there or is everybody a clone, a copy cat or a mind without thought just a TV set going on and on with no meaning just words?  Is everybody playing  the what is in it for me game. The so called talk shows are nothing but an advertisement for media shows.  It is a 24 hour commercial for making money.  Why cannot anybody do anything about it is my question.  Are others besides me talking about these things?  Am I a lone wolf?

 

Why is all music today about sex and not about music?  Why are so many country western stars, pop stars, Broadway stars, jazz stars all performing the same music over and over again like there is nothing new.  Why does not the public demand something better?  What is wrong with having standards?

 

The Tsunami makes the Iraq war and the conflict in the middle-east so stupid.  What are these people fighting for?  Why cannot they be with one another and get along? Why does there always have to be a power struggle for control?  It is so stupid when I think of the Tsunami attack.  Or was it just a force of nature! Will man ever learn?

 

The force of ignorance is so strong one wonders if there is any hope for real culture. The object of the letter today is to get you to try to think about listening to what you are listening too   and not just accept what the media gives you.  Of course the media works on our lowest common attributes.  But my question is why do we accept it?  My own children do not have concern for me or very little.  I am sure I am not alone on this one, but it is hard to take sometimes.

Your feed back is important.

 

Sincerely,

Greg Henry Waters

Artists of Music and Yoga Arts

Greg,
 
I sympathize with you greatly.  I am a 32 year old multi-instrumentalist in a small, rural south Georgia town, and the people who are 10-15 years younger are very, very much into the whole pop-culture icons.  These "icons" spew meaningless rhymes and hip hop beats, pop-tinged country music, commercialized top-40 hits, plastic looks of blonde hair, tans and fake breasts, promoting the whole thug / hip-hop lifestyle - something for nothing - get-rich-quick-by-rapping-or-gang-banging, blah, blah, blah...  What are they saying?  I don't know exactly what they're saying, but I know the effect it's having.  Here in a small town, you see spoiled rotton young women, young men who treat their women like property, and young people of both sexes who are too lazy to hold a job.  I may sound like an old fogey, but I'm only 32 and see this! 
 
It's pointless to argue the state of our culture.  To me it's rather obvious that taste has taken a back seat to sheer stupidity.  People talk of the 80's being an excessive time for music - and it was to an extent.  But today's hip-hop culture is just as bad, if not worse.  What will we think ten - fifteen years from now?  We'll be looking back at another repeat of the 80's.  History repeats itself, doesn't it?  Hip-hop has its place, but in my opinion, its place is way over-blown right now, just like the hair bands of the 80's.
 
When be-bop came on to the jazz scene, it revolutionized the way we listened to music.  Eventually, the big bands died or became less and less of an influence.  Rock and roll came along, and jazz pretty much became less and less of an influence.  Now, hip hop and country are becoming major players in the music world - not that they weren't before.  But the whole cultural aspect is very pititful, in my opinion.  And when an elder statesmen of the community like Bill Cosby speaks up about his convictions, and even his own peers criticize him for his outlook, I'd say things are looking pretty bleak.  People don't like to be told that they are in the wrong, or even going down the wrong track.  Why?
 
We are a nation full of whiners.  Rather than face up to reality and responsibility, we prefer the fake - or the McDonalds (quick fix).  We prefer the hip-hop image.  We prefer the get-rich-quick mentality.  We prefer to think that we can have whatever we want with no consequences to others.  We are a very, very selfish culture.  My question is this...  Do we reflect our art, or does our art reflect us?  Why do I see Paris Hilton every time I turn on a television or pick up a magazine?  Is she THAT important???  Having said that... 
 
I don't really think our art reflects us very well.  For the most part, television and music videos are so far outlandish that only those in select areas, such as major inner-cities and poverty stricken areas, are even remotely 'in-tune' with what our televisions are feeding us and saying to us.  (I don't even own a television - by choice.)  Unfortunately, I suppose as in the 80's, our society is reflecting what we're being fed by MTV.  Why is it that most - if not all - the women on the show "Fear Factor" look like they have fake boobs and can fit into less than a size 5?  Is that reality?
 
Hopefully, no one will take this next remark as a racist slander, because it isn't.  A friend and I were chatting about the state of music.  Now, keep in mind, my friend is a talented and trained musician, and a certified sound engineer.  My friend says to me a several weeks ago, "You realize this is a tragic time we live in because all of the top ten Billboard albums are hip-hop."  Of course, as a musician and friend, I had to agree with him. 
 
If only older folks spent as much money on music as the younger generations we'd have more "real" music, for sure.  I hope that web sites like iMusic (iTunes) really take off, because for too long record companies have forced junk upon us - the general public.  For instance, now you can download single songs instead of entire albums.  Imagine the impact that would have on record companies being more selective about what types of materials will go on their artists' albums!  I like to call this "selective weeding".  We would actually have a choice of what we buy and what we listen to!  This is happening right now, and I for one am pleased. 
 
I don't care for the music industry in any aspect.  Of course, if some record company wanted to pick me up because I actually have something artistic to give or something worthy to say in an artistic manner, well, that's another story.  There are good labels out there wanting to promote good music.  Unfortunately, the big record companies are owned by goobs sitting behind desks looking at status reports, polls, and $$$ figures. 
 
Have you ever visited the "TAXI" website?  It's basically a music website for aspiring musicians, songwriters, and those in the industry.  Did you know that record promoters / producers / etc. actually place ads there explaining exactly what they are looking for?  For instance, the ads may say something like this... 
 
"Major label looking for 19-27 yr. old female with good looks, great tenor-alto voice who plays acoustic guitar.  Styles of influence should include Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrisette, and acoustic prog-rock artists.  Songwriting ability a plus.  Music theory a plus.  Looks a definite plus." 
 
They want copy-cats that are proven sales!!!
 
And the things you won't see mentioned there are things such as, "should be non-married, no kids, no major law run-ins, should possess fake tits (if not, we - the record label - will pay for them, as well as any necessary plastic surgery procedures IF you are pretty enough already - We'll enhance!!!  We'll make you even prettier because pretty sells!!!), skinny and able to wear a size 2 - or 3 at best, at least 5'6" tall, tattoos ok as long as they aren't on or above the neck, no moles on your face, no scars, etc. etc. etc.
 
We are a pre-packaged society.  It sucks. 
 
I was asked to play a New Year's Eve gig at a local coffee shop for couples who had paid for a $50 steak dinner and dance.  Well, me being a jazz guy, I thought they would want back-ground dinner music and maybe some older top-40 music to dance to (Eric Clapton, Elton John, Chicago, Sting, etc.)   Unfortunately  for me, the owner, not a very bright owner in my opinion, wanted upbeat dance music.  Now, when I say upbeat dance music, I'm talking the stuff you hear in rave clubs.  Needless to say, I ran out of material fast.  So, I was introduced to the ol' owner-artist confusion syndrome.  It wasn't a good New Year's Eve gig.  I ended up quitting at 11:30 and went accross town and sat in with some friends of mine at another gig. 
 
The whole point behind that story, besides the confusion part, is that nobody really wants to hear live music anymore unless it sounds like what comes out of loud, booming stereos in cars riding down the cruise strip on the weekends.  I learned my lesson.  Know the gig.  In an effort to salvage the evening, I told the owner she didn't have to pay me the full amount we talked about, which was fine, because we did do some fine music - my friends and I - we just didn't do it the whole evening.  Maybe I should become a d.j. and be more versatile!?!
 
Her idea of "fun" on New Year's was what a d.j. offers.  Hmph.  Why didn't she hire a d.j.?  Well, she thought I could do anything musically.  Flattering, but not true.  Sadly, her idea of dance music is what we hear constantly on television, on radio, and in car stereos when teen-agers ride by.  She is an example of a typical person who thinks she knows what people want.  She's just like the record producers, the promoters, and anyone who's just trying to make a buck.
 
Well, I like hamburgers, but I also like steak, chicken, fish, seafood, etnic foods, Italian, Chinese, anything, really...  And I feel that way about music.  But today's music is too much like McDonalds.  I'd rather starve than eat some of what's being fed to me.  We need a healthy balance.  We need more filet minon, more caviar, more red wine, more... 



Chuck Hutcheson
Sales & Estimates
Morgan Window & Glass, Inc.
229-868-2227
229-868-2717, fax

 
Hi Greg,
 
Happy New Year! Yes I get going back to the States can be a bit of a culture shock and so much of what you write rings true.  Everyone seems to take the path of least resistance in almost every aspect of their lives. From fast food, to music where they find a sound they like and stick only to that, to TV where everything is just a vehicle for someone's book or movie. I must confess we are much better off in the UK with regards to TV than you are in the States, art is catered for much better as the people demand it. Not that Americans don't appreciate it but maybe your programme planners don't care to include it. Not enough money in it perhaps?
 
Stay away from Burgers but if you have to Hardees Mushroom and Swiss is a great one. If all fails Wendy's.
 
Bye for now.
Gary
 

Greg,

 
Thanks for the message.   I long ago gave up on tv (1963)  The only time I listen to AM radio is for the baseball games. Everything is driven by sex and money. I heard a lovely recording of a Bach solo violin...When I went to buy the cd the artist was on the cover....naked! The violin covered her privates! (Lara St. John) I later bought another recording Anna Sofie Muter playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons...She too has a sexy "come and get it" pose on the cd cover. All of a sudden people are "discovering" Ray Charles....I knew Ray all through the early 60's.....Same thing with Louis Armstrong.... discovered after Hello Dolly...
 
Jon

HEY GREG HOW YOU DOING I AGREE WITH YOU. I LOST MY MOMS TWO WEEKS AGO BEEN WORKING HARD FOR WHAT TO PAY BILLS AND KEEP THOSE SAME PEOPLE HAPPY WHO MAKE THE BURGERS. WHAT HAPPENED IN THE ASIA IS SOMETHING TO BE THOUGHT ABOUT LIKE YOU SAID WAR IS STUPID AND FOR WHAT AND OVER WHAT WE ALL NEED TO GET OUR HEAD OUT OF OUR ASS AND DO THE RIGHT THING FOR A CHANGE. I AGREE WITH YOU AS FOR THE KID PART NOT THERE YET HOPE I DONT GO THERE AND I AM SURE THE GIRLS LOVE YOU GREG. SO LONG FOR NOW MY FRIEND.

 

I'll answer those points for you. this is just my point of view, so please keep that in mind. First, of all the radio stations are owned by less than 5 groups. So any interesting music you have go look for it on the net. There has been some cool stuff the past year as far as tunes are concerned. The second point is that we are in Iraq because greed not even control or power as we knew it in the old conquerers perspective. We have become a super leech. Those young men are dying because corporations an entity that does not breathe, smell, or have a beating heart has pushed them there.

 This entity only has life within the law. Yet the law grants it all the rights that you and I have. This is the corporate age, and it will only end until those laws are limited. Its going to be a struggle that its outcome is uncertain. it could lead to us slowly killing ourselves through our plunging of our resources.

We need to learn in the west the idea of the self quest within. our literature is riddled with objects from without that will bring enlightment of our world. for example the holy grail. The young men and women out there were looking for something to fill there lives. Its up to all of us creative types to do our best to put out creative works that entertain and inspire. I call it the chocolate covered brocali. That's my take, don't hold it against me.

Migs

 

Hi Greg,

that was quite a thought provoking email.  When that wave hit, no one dared call it a terrorist attack.  Now if another wave hit it all the tax free havens, then the world economy would really collaspe. I remember hearing how Germany criticized the USA for not donating enough. Third world dead payments were suspended because of international criticism being levelled against the United States.  It is very good to see so many giving instead of taking, but the one thing that disturbs me most.... how nature is hitting the third world.  Man has done enough damage to the third world, does nature have to do the same?

pc

 

Greg:

    I do not believe things are as bad as you make them out to be. Abraham Lincoln once said that a man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be, and I believe there is some truth in that. I do not believe in looking at the world through rose colored glasses, and I certainly have my share of pain in life. But constant complaining just makes things worse.

    If you do not like MacDonald's, I would recommend you do not eat there.

    Outside of that, I hope you are well.

Devitt

 


Greg,

 

This newsletter caught me deep. The feelings you described towards the pre-made LIFE in the western culture is sure one of the reasons that drove me away from there, to plunge into another culture that might be not too different, but still so strange to me that the time, I need to discover and understand, keeps my mind away from listening too close to the Chinese pop and TV culture. And I think that is not the worst thing. Horror takes me when I think about the very day that I learned enough about this culture and saw enough of this country and the people and my mind will come back to the trash that is omni present even already over here. What then? Move to another country? I think it is not only western style or country specific, I think the whole world has the same illness and there is no cure. Or should there be any cure at all? Are the few that think like us, a dying race? Are grandparents one fine day going to read the story about the last pioneers of taste and show pictures of us in a book? They are going to say: “Look this where the last ones and nobody really knows the reason why they died – vanished from the planet. But there is a theory, saying that they have all been swallowed by a big wave.”

 

Regards from China and hang in there

Tom

 

 

Dear Greg,

I' ve received your letter and I quite agree with you.

I'm also wondering why so many people are just content with all those rubbish music. But on the other hand, you should notice that, there are also a group of people who struggle for the development of the 'real music' too! For example, the young people you met in that small shop 'Old Heaven' in Shenzhen, not mention those you've never met...

Do you remember that, the Renaissance in Italy in 14 century only came about after a thousand year of silence and darkness--the Middle Ages? Maybe, we should be a little patient...

After all, at any rate, we shouldn't lose our confidence.

Does nobody care for you? No! Maybe your children are too busy with their work and life, since living in this world becomes more and more hard today. Don't you have some friends who share the same interest and belief with you? Isn't there any fan who will stand on your side no matter what happens?

And for me, you are an interesting and friendly gentleman. I could still recall the day when you accepted my interview. Your smile, your worry, and your Mexican leather hat...

Take care!

Wish you happy, healthy all the time!

Yours,

Joy