Grammy-nomics: The Impact of the Music Industry on the US and our Economy!
February 9, 2009 by Greg Saunders
Hey Peachtree City…the other night I was a part of the millions of music lovers checking out the 51st
Grammy Awards when suddenly it hit me. The music of Bono & U2, Coldplay, Kid Rock, Jennifer Hudson & others was a true reflection of life as we know it with all its struggles, successes, & failures. Yep, music is the mirror of our souls and right now its crying out for the humanity in us all.
So you don’t think there is a direct correlation between music and the impact it has on life and our economy? Read on! Getting ready for the Grammys I ran to the kitchen for refreshments. My wife’s version of the Beatles “Long and Winding Road” was the song playing in my head. Maybe it was a reminder of all the financial hardship we are personally faced with and that road to recovery seemed long and winding. I could hear the announcer reading off the long list of featured artists and then…….I saw it! The latest edition of Fortune laying on my counter…or should I say Mis-Fortune with the cover featuring the “New Jobless.” Just earlier in the day I remembering my wife reading the stories to me…it was absolutely sobering! I couldn’t help but to stop and look at their faces.
Now I’ll have to admit that after watching a few episodes of the new hit series “Lie to Me”, I’ve been more observant of people in general. The series features Dr. Cal Lightman, the world’s leading deception expert who studies facial expressions and body language to discover if someone is lying. I looked at each picture and there it was…the cold stare in their eyes, the raised eyebrows, pursed lips, and even the lines in between their eyebrows. There was no lying about it! Despite their degrees, successes, and even social lineage, life had dealt them the proverbial kick in the butt! They were all facing major setbacks and it seemed like the buzzards were circling looking to finish them off by picking what ever flesh was left on their bones…ughhh!
Suddenly the Grammys came back on and I hear a girl singing that she had kissed a girl and yeah…she liked it! Wow, it reminded me of how perversely music has impacted our society. What was not acceptable when I was growing up had now become the norm! Then came the next commercial break talking about the Big Bang Theory. Well…it wasen’t the George Lemaitre discussion on the model of the universe. Instead it was about 2 physicist with “beautiful minds” that can’t interact with people…especially women. What were they thinking!! That’s why God invented facebook, myspace, and all the other social-networking sites. The average facebook account has 100 friends…Get a life and a account dudes!
Oh back to the Grammys…song of the year was an old Jimmy Paige song called, “Write a Letter.” sung by Robert Plant…remember Led Zeppelin! Reminded me of the folks on Capital Hill…seems like ole habits like rock & roll never die! Loved the Carnival Cruise commercial….it featured the Todd Rundgren “I don’t want to work song.” Tell that to the 1.8 million folks that got pink slips. More than likely you’d be cruisin for a bruisin bro! Then there was Dino getting the Lifetime achievement award. Remember the “RAT Pack”….Sinatra, Martin, Davis, Bishop, and Lawford? Yeah grab a drink, light up a square, and enjoy the discourse. Ok the singing too! Talk about cultural role models! We all wanted that vicarious lifestyle. But wait…the new Rat Pack? Jay-Z, TI, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West? Hmmm…life has really changed my friends! But then the music is always changing but maybe there is still a chance it can bring us together or at least bridge some gaps. Thanks Paul, Beatlemania lives on! Makes you wanna hold someone’s hand, right!
Wow..check it out! John Mayer received the award for best song, “Say what you need to say.” Seems to be a sign of the times. We just can’t seem to say what we need to say to our kids or trust what a lot of folks are saying. Talk to the hand….Yeah, whatever dude. Then I heard it….What a huge song….”How Come I End Up Where I Started” is the mega hit from Radiohead. Kinda sounds like our guys on capital hill meeting on how to bailout our economy. Hmmm…maybe its just life coming full circle! My mama always told me ‘what goes around comes back around”. Got an idea! Can you just imagine the net worth of all the folks in that room! Music sales averaged about 6.4 billion in the US and 27.2 billion world-wide. Talk about being able to jump-starting the economy. Hey don’t complain. We put those music guys on superstar pedestals, gave then the bling-bling, MTV, BET, VH1 and all the paparazzi. Hey our elected officials get the same treatment. We gave them CNN, CNBC, talk radio, and access to the Internet. Yeah, we gave them our money and trust too, right?
Then to top it off. Can you believe it! A domestic brawl between 19 year-old superstar Chris Brown and Rhianna kept them from attend and performing on the awards. Not a problem, back from Rehab was 45-year old Whitney Houston to make her Grammy debut. Will we never learn how to sit down and discuss things before they blow up into an all out and out war? Why all the anger! Can’t we just all get along? Sam Jackson says we should all collaborate….You damn right! Moving on…Justin Timberlake sang about traveling on this same road too long. “You mean before we are all dead and gone,” raps TI. Yeah with all the financial prowess in our country you would think someone could get us out of this mess. But greed and money are powerful bedfellows.
By the way, did you know President Obama is a 2x Grammy winner? Yep, just goes to prove the power of the spoken word. Knowledge is the power to incite change…well at least potential power. True change comes only from putting the word in action!
Hey guys…remember the good ole days when we listened to the sounds of the 4 Tops and greats like Neil Diamond? There is a new word for that time and place now and its called “nostalgia.” Well its impossible to bring those days back and just maybe the good ole days weren’t so great for all of us anyway. Besides nobody respects or listens to their elders anymore. Yeah…old sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good.
Then there is the Big Easy. Musically Robin Thicke and Lil Wayne reminded us again of all your pain. Yeah,New Orleans was underwater much like most of our homes now in this economy from the hurricane called “Devaluation.” Don’t worry this hurricane can’t distinguish between the good and the bad, rich or poor, color, religion or national origin. Greed and mismanagement has fueled its winds of destruction across our great land. Oh but we hear you too young America…Rap music is here to stay! Some may not understand your evolution but your plight is far-reaching. I wonder….does the future look somewhat like the past or is it our attempts to prop up old archaic ideologies.
Hmmm…Robert Plant’s collaboration with country singer Alison Krauss called “Raising Sand” was the album of the year! I guess it may be true that you can’t go forward unless you understand your past. Duly noted! Folks, we have a lot to learn about ourselves and each other. Maybe Robert Plant is right..you gotta raise some sand sometimes to make a point about what is right and fair. However, when you think about it….the world and its economies are really interwoven. The walls and barriers are slowly coming down. We truly are all brothers and sisters.
But like you didn’t know it, our economy Like Amy Winehouse needs some immediate rehab. And if you know anything about the 12 step rehab program you don’t replace one drug with another. There is a physical and psychological dependency. But it will involve stripping or peeling everything back to the core. It means admitting our short-comings making amends and moving forward in a new direction. We all have to take some personal responsibility for our lives. For some it may mean developing other skill sets and for a lot of us it may even mean starting over. But I believe that there is a power greater than ourselves that will answer our prayers and restore our hope. Its a new day America! Thanks Stevie Wonder for the constant reminder that love, caring, and sharing are what truly makes us all a divine instrument!