There’s something about getting old. A sad state of affairs that is difficult to avoid.
It’s all related to what scientists call the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome – that instinctive ability to decide whether to run away from something you find threatening, or to roll up your sleeves and fight back. See, the older we get, the more a world which was once manageable and easy becomes overpowering and baffling – which results in an intellectual version of ‘fight or flight’. Now, because you can’t exactly run away from the world, you have to take the ‘fight’ option and put on an aggressive demeanor. This is why lots of elderly people are constantly argumentative and confrontational. It’s true – look it up.
Which brings us to Slash.
The legendary axeman from Guns N Roses has been claiming that ‘modern’ music has ‘lost its magic.’ The culprit? Why, it’s nothing other than this ‘downloading’ ‘digital’ fad that the kids seem so keen on. Here’s what he has to say:
“There was a certain excitement that came with the release of a new record, and a lot of it was just the package itself, and it was something that you milled over while you were listening to the record.”
“It was sad to see them sort of get phased out but, you know, with CDs at least you still had the booklets, but now, when you look at the digital situation, you’re like ‘There’s nothing in it’, you know.”
“It’s not even tangible any more. It’s convenient, but you lose the magic of it.”
We can’t help but think that Slash is talking a load of rubbish here. Surely the majority of the magic inherent in music comes from listening to it, rather than any extraneous factors. Sure, a great piece of album artwork was a nice bonus back in the era of vinyl/CD dominance, but it hardly accounted for the entire musical experience. Plus – take a look at some of the apps being released by both new and established artists to promote their latest albums. They’re lavishly designed, multimedia extravaganzas which are brimming with aesthetic quality. If anything, the digital age has ushered in a more comprehensive extension of the album cover ideal.
The thing is: of course Slash is going to bemoan the loss of the good old days. The days in which millions of people queued up to hand over 15 dollars for a physical copy of ‘Use Your Illusion.’ The days in which downloading anything at all was the preserve of a few geeky MIT students. In short: the days of the old-school music industry, which helped to make him a very, very, very wealthy man indeed.
The rest of us? We didn’t rule the roost in the 80s and 90s. We’re not even looking to ‘rule the roost’ now – the new digital economy has far less time for Goliath music-providers like the big four record labels. Slash came of age in the former era, and is now shaking his fist in anger at the whippersnappers coming of age in the present.
He just doesn’t understand. Maybe – he’s a little bit scared. And because he can’t take flight, he’s choosing to fight. Just a theory …