Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - May 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Irony of Prince Being a Musician?

 It would seem the number one comment I noticed after Prince's death is something along the lines of the following:

 ".... yeah, and he could really play guitar, and other instruments!".

Recently the video of Nick Jonas of Jonas Brother's teeny bopper fame failing at trying to play a basic solo at a concert made the rounds.  He's obviously marginal as a guitar player, and it's not like the Jonas Brothers - or hardly any other pop act these days - create "their" own music.

 There he was, though, trying to do something he obviously couldn't in front of a crowd of people.

 The precedent was sort of set when Madonna tried to play through some bar chords on a song on a tv show.  The unspoken premise being in "reality", everyone is in on the secret:

 Pop stars are no longer expected to be actual musicians.

 "Wow, look at Madonna!  She's playing guitar!!!".

 A novelty?

 As a kid in the late 70's I HATED, DEPLORED seeing people lip sync.  Not only that, but my parents most of the time would not accept the notion, or "people in general".  

 We've passed through that to being cynical, to be accepting.  We've gone farther, into a weird fractured land where some people still believe in what they see, while others just don't care anymore.  People pay $$$$ to go see pop acts (emphasis on "act") either partially, or fully aware that they're going to see people miming to prerecorded music.

 "Chip, in the future, people will pay lots of money to knowingly watch people pretend to be pompous about pretending to perform music they didn't create".   Ok, sure.

 Prince started at the end of the pre-computer assisted music era.  People had no choice to be musicians in order to make music.  People took pride in it.  Now Justin Bieber is lauded for trying to play guitar, as if he's somehow going into uncharted territory, and risking his health and safety for doing so. 

 Not to denigrate Prince at all, but... you know, the idea of a pop musician not only being able to play an instrument, but multiple instruments, and to write their own music shouldn't be an outlier phenomenon.  It didn't use to be.  That it has become that in the 21st century is a sad reflection on what culture has been reduced to.