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Does Barack Obama Have Anything To Do With The State Of The U.S. Music Biz?

9 June 2008

So, here we are in a room full of strangers? But it’s been kind of hard (during the first half of 2008) not to get swept up in what some call Obama Fever, maybe even more so now that HILLARY CLINTON has suspended her campaign…

Barack Obama becomes in many ways a symbol of courage and self-discipline in the face of very difficult personal odds (despite what GERALDINE FERRARO said about Barack being lucky or having certain advantages), and thus of HOPE (THE AUDACITY OF HOPE) and CHANGE

(not “CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN” as JOHN MCCAIN is trying out as an alternative, which for McCain doesn’t really mean “CHANGE” at all, except progressively getting worse going down the same course as the last 7 (seven)—actually, the last 27 (twenty-seven) years).

More specifically, Obama largely avoided the corporate lobbyists that have become the “Bread and Butter” of American politics (and political donations), especially as the price of running a campaign (whether local or national) has skyrocketed. If it was difficult for MR. SMITH to go TO WASHINGTON back in the era of JAMES STEWART, it’s even more difficult now. Of course, politics is just politics, and is largely separate from the politics of the music business (so they say)....

But there is a connection if we take PAYOLA to be as prevalent today in the music biz (even the so-called “indie” music biz) as LOBBYISTS are in politics, and have seen the best musicians and bands (and writers, etc) of our (younger) Generations get progressively thurst to the side, and ignored by a mass culture media that has strengthened its clampdown and monopoly on the national “public sphere…”

(Yeah, I know people will argue with me here—And, sure, if you don’t want that “public Sphere,” and are happy with the local ‘underground’ scenes, etc., fine. But don’t try to tell me that this clapmpdown isn’t stronger than at any point in the history of American mass-media. Coz it just ain’t true).
So, maybe one can be hopeful here that Obama
(or what the name Obama can mean)
will actually help us TAKE BACK THE AIRWAVES
away from the “top 2%” that run it….

I sincerely believe that part of the DESPERATION, discontent,
that lead many to go beyond cynicism and actually “VOTE FOR”
in these primaries, has a lot to do with the feeling that
AMERICAN CULTURE has been darn close to destroyed by
GEORGE W. BUSH (the worst president we’ve ever had, etc)
and even though in many ways Obama’s political platform is
actually more conservative than even RICHARD NIXON’S policies,
heck, we gotta start somewhere.

MAJOR FACT for me: In 1996, BILL CLINTON signed a Telecommunication’s Act, which accelerated and solidified MEDIA CONSOLIDATION (& syndication). Obama may be the most resolutely anti-corporate President, populist, President we’ve had since the death of FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT (or MC FDR)...

And, the fact that General Electric, and other defense contractors, own many of the major media conglomerates certainly has had an effect on the range of NEWS that the average American gets (frankly, had the news coverage been more fair and balanced, it’s very possible DENNIS KUCINICH would’ve won, and we’d have a very different America indeed), but it’s also had an effect on the range of entertainment (and music) the average american gets.

Okay, yes, I’m assuming that the atomization of iPod nation (as opposed to boomboxes), and target individualistic niche demographic marketing, is actually designed by social engineers to foster more isolation, so people don’t organize, etc. Obama, as a politician, found a way to use the internet, and other media, to build a “grassroots” organization (LIKE A REAL FLOWER GROWING FROM A PLASTIC ROOT! (despite what MATT GONZALES who plays bass with CHARLES GONZALES when he’s not running for VP with RALPH NADER may say).

Ah, the poetry of it all. Some comment on how he’s a two-for-one (kind of like a cross between both JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY and MARTIN LUTHER KING, nowadays the term gets trivialized as “rock star” wink wink)—so the baby boomers are trying to put it into the 1960s paradigm map again. BEWARE THESE BABY BOOMERS!! This is my shtick. Yeah, we need the baby boomers, and Hillary Clinton supporters. They still have a huge demographic—but it’s been about them them them for so long—I think that might explain some of the pent up resentment, or sheer catharsis of “Generation X-ish” (a generation that never really had the demographic numbers by itself), and the under 30 *MARK RISTAINO” (MUSIC FOR AMERICA) crowd—who, now, finally had a way to speak, and be heard, not just by the older people, but BY EACH OTHER.

This is why Obama keeps saying the campaign isn’t about him (like the CONTINUOUS PEASANT song “It’s Not A Matter Just Of Me” more than the JOHN LENNON song “Come Together”), but about US. THE STAKES are VERY high now, so at the risk of sounding frivolous, I could even say Obama’s like fireworks—I may not be that into seeing fireworks, but I like seeing the crowds who go see fireworks—whatever will suffice (like A JAR IN TENNESSEE even) that will help unite us…

That country song, “I’m Taking My Country Back” has been going through my head alot lately (They play it on Air America alongside TOM PETTY’s “The Last DJ” and they couldn’t shut up RANDI RHODES). A lot of young people I know feel this same way, but the media industry still seems very afraid of taking a chance on us. Oh, we don’t seem “Cool” enough as defined by some REAGAN/CLINTON/BUSH/BUSH notion of “cool.” Well, Barack Obama’s “cool” one could say (even if his musical taste may not the best; at least he’s not out there acting the scold like AL GORE and TIPPER GORE(and KERRY, DUKAKIS, MONDALE, etc) perhaps because he knows his history enough, and the relation of politics to music, to know there were parallels between “BROWN V. THE BOARD OF EDUCATION” and people wanting to dance to FATS DOMINO and others….

Of course, today, LIBERAL and CONSERVATIVE don’t mean what they used to. Alot of what most Americans want when they say “CHANGE” is really bringing things back to the way they used to be, like the idea that “progress” has become a totally bastardized word, meaning nothing but technological progress….And I don’t know if it will “trickle down” or “trickle up” but yes I’m hoping the Obama phenomena will parallel a new openess in commercial radio, TV, music, entertainment, and I feel the signs everywhere (though most of us our still largely under the radar, radio, iPod, GUN, etc…)


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