Music as a cultural response

Happy Monday! It’s a quick one today but I wanted to jot something down. In Meet Me in the Bathroom, an excellent oral history exploration of early-’00s indie, bands like !!!, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the Strokes talk about what got them started. What stood out to me was the recurring observation of how 9/11 changed the landscape of music. It forced America to look inwards and reevaluate its priorities.

In a grim way, it created a new opportunity for musicians. Old standards were ripped apart or forgotten. In the first few months after what happened, clubs were shut down so people had to get together in their apartments; these informal jam sessions led to bands being formed. The sound got rougher, too: “Heads Will Roll” has a screechy distortion that both masks and somehow enhances Karen O’s powerhouse vocals. Last Nite is an experimentation in the tight, clear electronic sound that would become prevalent in later ’00s bands. When clubs reopened, DJs remixed it all into the next generation of house music.

I’m reading another book right now that touches on a similar topic regarding the symbiotic relationship between culture and music. Music takes what’s happening around us and compresses it into lyrical and/or danceable form. It evolves as we do and bloggers like me are just along for the ride.

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