For the most part, no one ever openly wishes for time to fly. Time seems to always fly, anyway, so why push for something that’s already’s taking place?

For the most part, no one ever openly wishes for time to fly. Time seems to always fly, anyway, so why push for something that’s already’s taking place?

    The older we get, the more it all passes by us in a blur. This isn’t pure hyperbole, either. You can cite the mathematical fact that it still takes 60 seconds for one minute to elapse and 24 hours for one day to be completed, and a single year is still comprised of 12 months, but, figuratively if not literally, as we get older it is absolutely unmistakable the notion that time seems to move by us with greater rapidity.

    When we were kids, our jaws would drop in stunned silence as we’d hear our parents or grandparents say something like, “I can’t believe another Christmas is almost here!” or “That school year flew by!” But here I am, significantly closer to age 50 than I am to age 40, and every year I can’t believe how soon Christmas gets here, and how rapidly the school year seems to whiz by in a flash.

    I feel like any day now I’m going to open my front door at yell at the neighbor kids to “Get off my lawn!” And if they don’t do as I say in prompt enough fashion, I might just run outside, barefoot of course, and chase them off my property.

    But nothing makes me feel more ancient than today’s music, or, specifically, that the time when live music was actually live music is a once-expected, now long-gone relic.

    I should clarify that I do very much enjoy a great deal of today’s music. But it’s the way so much of it is crafted and subsequently performed that often leaves me shaking my head and longing for the good old days, when the vast majority of the songs I loved and the bands I worshipped were constructed from a backbone that featured any combination of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, drums and other percussion, bass, and possibly keyboards.

    You know, as in, the musicians actually played the instruments. And the singers actually sang. Because if they didn’t, the band would make no sound. So it was pretty important to actually play those instruments and vocalize.

    That’s not the case these days. Oh, sure, there’s lots of bumping and thumping sounds that’ll make you physically feel like your rib cage is being pressed in, but there’s not a percussionist in sight pounding a kick drum with his foot.

    I’m fresh off a music festival last weekend in Wisconsin that I attended with family and friends. The company couldn’t have been better and the atmosphere in the rural, woodsy setting was definitely worth soaking in, but that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t shake the feeling that much of the so-called “live” music I witnessed was more like karaoke on steroids.

    One performer who doesn’t just dabble in computerized, electronic music but relies on it to provide the backing music and sounds in every single one of his songs put on a show that approached 45 minutes in length, and all he did for at least half of it was run around the stage, dance, climb the lighting standards, and jump into the crowd, all the while not really singing at all. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t hear him singing, as the versions of the songs and vocals he’d previously recorded in the studio were continuously piped in via the series of laptop computers placed at center stage, where he’d periodically visit to press the keys necessary to trigger the next song. Sure, he’d sing/yell some of his actual lyrics from time to time, but when you have full backing support in the form of musical sounds and singing, that’s not a live concert, that’s karaoke.

    I watched an actual band, featuring a couple singers, drummer, keyboardist, guitarist and bass player, and to be fair they certainly more closely resembled musical artists than the guy I referenced in the previous paragraph, but I knew I was at least to a degree being duped when some aggressive percussion sounds emanated from the stage, and yet when my eyes found the actual drummer, he wasn’t moving a muscle. He came in later and added some drumming flourishes and they were impressive, but the backing percussion sounds never fully gave way to his solo drumming. The most active member of the band was the keyboardist, but only because he seemed to spend more time tapping keys on the laptops perched on top of his electronic piano than actually playing keys on the instrument.

    Is this what today’s music fans want to see and hear? Musical “artists” running and dancing on stage with a microphone in hand to sing or rap some lyrics now and then, while the full studio version of their songs are piped in electronically?  

Assuming time will continue to fly, here’s hoping it comes full circle, and people who create music use instruments to do so, and not computers and software.