Recently by Ted Gioia:

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“Imagine no possessions,” John Lennon asked in a famous song. Then wisely added: “I wonder if you can.” I note that Lennon was driving a 19-feet-long Rolls Royce when he composed the song “Imagine.” In fact, he didn’t really drive it; he had a couple of chauffeurs available for that. The former Beatle spent his time in the back seat, where he had a double bed installed along with a television and refrigerator.

No, I don’t blame Lennon. He’s not the only person to take pride in ownership while imagining a property-free world he didn’t actually want to inhabit. Bernadette Peters summed up the pervasive attitude best in the Steve Martin film The Jerk, when she faces the prospect of going from wealth to poverty. “I don’t care about losing all the money,” she declares bravely. Then after a pause: “It’s losing all the stuff.” More… “Why Music Ownership Matters”

Ted Gioia writes about music, literature and popular culture. He is the author of ten books, most recently How to Listen to Jazz
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“Does anyone under 25 play an instrument anymore?” grumbled one veteran producer in response to the recent MTV Video Music Awards show. “They need to take the M out of these awards.”

Audiences had an even harsher verdict on the MTV event. Ratings were down a whopping 34% over the previous year — and 2015 ratings had shown a comparable decline versus 2014. In an industry that agonizes over shifts of a fraction of a percent, this kind of free-fall is unprecedented. The music business brought out its biggest guns for the MTV event — Beyoncé, Kanye, Rihanna, and Britney, among other one-name phenoms — and the show was broadcast on 11 different networks, including VH1, BET, CMT, and Spike. Even Comedy Central gave the event wall-to-wall coverage. But I don’t think anyone is laughing now.

More… “Does the Music Business Need Musicianship?”

Ted Gioia writes about music, literature and popular culture. He is the author of ten books, most recently How to Listen to Jazz
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Few things get music scholars more nervous than cross-cultural comparisons. The field of ethnomusicology, which was invented to inquire into this very subject, has grown increasingly uneasy with this part of its mission. The ethnomusicologist, in the words of Bruno Nettl, does not seek out such comparisons, but rather serves as “the debunker of generalizations.” Anthony Seeger has offered a similar perspective, expressing his resistance to “the privileging of similarities over differences.” In other words, if human beings from different cultures share certain musical proclivities and practices, academics in the field would rather not hear about it.
More… “Face the Music”

Ted Gioia writes about music, literature and popular culture. He is the author of ten books, most recently How to Listen to Jazz
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True Grit

30 years ago, Cormac McCarthy and and Larry McMurtry reinvented the cowboy novel. But the West they won was a much darker one.

By Ted Gioia
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When did the Western become a joke?

Did it happen in 1974, when Mel Brooks released Blazing Saddles, an irreverent spoof that found something to laugh at in every possible cliché of the genre? Or did we reach the tipping point in 1971, when the Marlboro Man, the cowboy emblem of cigarette addiction, was pulled off US airwaves, this once glamorous figure now despised as a contributor to countless lung cancer and emphysema cases? Or did it take place earlier, as the Western TV shows of the 1960s — Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Rawhide and the rest — grew more stale with each passing season?

Or was it John Wayne’s death (1979) that ended the golden age of cowboys? Or that campy moment when Roy Rogers put his stuffed horse Trigger on display as a tacky roadside museum exhibit (1967)? Or that cringe-inducing “Rhinestone Cowboy” song by Glen Campell (1975)? Or the publication of Dee Brown’s bestselling Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970), with its harsh critique of the mythos of Western settlement?
More… “True Grit”

Ted Gioia writes about music, literature and popular culture. He is the author of ten books, most recently How to Listen to Jazz
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