Friday, May 18, 2012

The Death of Rootedness

The Death of Rootedness

The death of Donna Summer reveals the problems we're facing: the loss of rootedness and context. You see, without Donna Summer, there'd be no house music, no club dance scene, no Channel O, but most people who listen extensively (many exclusively) to these musics and inhabit these contexts have never heard of her. We have as a species shifted (a seismic shift, equivalent to the Industrial Revolution) from nationalism towards a global village, one unified worldwide culture, that contains a bit of everything, a genuine mash-up, but in so doing we have disconnected our ties to the particular histories that allowed this social world to come into being.

And, of course, it's not just the dance scene. During the late seventies (think Eagles' Hotel California, think Fleetwood Mac's Rumours), rock music was also changed forever because of Donna Summer. When Brian Eno arrived in Berlin to join David Bowie for his Low and Heroes albums, he had a copy of Summer's I Feel Love and was telling everyone, "This is the future". He was correct, and Bowie (who was a new convert to the electronica of Neu!, Can, and Kraftwerk) agreed. That nascent sound is all over Bowie's Berlin albums and the changes that followed were tidal.

Music is central to the new global village and our lives; it will continue to be, but without rootedness we can justifiably be apprehensive. I recently saw some youtube comments on a piece of classical music: "Oh, this music is just for the old people, and they'll be dying out soon." Our sense of history is dying, and with it goes our sense of proportion and rightness. Everything is now up for grabs.

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