Where would Dylan be without Robert Johnson, George Harrison without the Chiffons, Zeppelin without Willie Dixon? And where would the rest of us be without them? These artists — all of whom learned and borrowed from other musicians — have pierced our collective heart, and their music is a living presence among us. They encourage musicians, and filmmakers, and writers, and creative people of all types to continue do what they love. They still soundtrack our precious, ridiculous, and inspired moments. And they do so not from a position in history, but in the here and now.
Maybe it’s time to let go of the clout granted to Beatles, and all these rock legends — that issue is one that’s up for debate. But to me, it is beyond question that it is certainly time to free ourselves of the cultural nostalgia and legal stagnation that have allowed their music to fossilize. Music journalists must — and important writing in Rolling Stone, New York Times, and other prominent publications already has — applaud Danger Mouse’s astounding artistic accomplishment, and let their critical praise become part of the discussion about what’s at stake as copyright goes awry. And for all of us who hold music dear, we owe it to ourselves to not only let our musical past footnote our musical present, but also allow that past to live and breathe, change and reform, disappear and reappear in unexpected ways. Performers from Dylan to P. Diddy, Little Richard to Lil’ Kim has depended on this system of borrowing, thrived through the creative license such activity lends when gives birth to originality.
I suppose those arguments might be contentious to the more reverent classic rockers out there, but I agree that the Grey Album has freshened up a record that’s gone stale on me (admittedly due to incessant replays over the years). The Grey Album highlights some of the coolest elements of the White Album (like some of The Beatles’ chunkiest guitar grooves) while mixing out parts of the album I’ve grown to dislike (Paul McCartney’s melodies, for one).
At the risk of drawing an obvious conclusion, I would argue that the imperative to allow cultural production to “live and breathe, change and reform, disappear and reappear in unexpected ways” should challenge our conceptions of our educational practice as well…
Via the Creative Commons Weblog.