Sunday, September 24, 2017

What’s Goin’ On? | Lefsetz Letter

What kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in where a late night TV host takes a stand, risking the alienation of his audience, which the medium lives by, advertising driving not only profits, but cancellation, but musicians are silent?

One in which the President gets into an east coast/west coast rap feud with the young leader of a renegade nation and we all could die in the aftermath.

I can’t wait to wake up and see the shenanigans. I’m refreshing my news apps constantly throughout the day, hell, it just broke that John McCain is thumbs-down on Graham-Cassidy. I’m following the news like I used to follow music. But that was before “Rolling Stone” was for sale and Jeff Bezos bought the “Washington Post.”

Now this risk of Jimmy Kimmel’s is important. He did what was right.

We haven’t done what is right in the music business since 1969. Back when Country Joe sang “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die” at Woodstock. Now it’s nearly fifty years later and the Vietnam War is on PBS but nobody under thirty donates to that outlet and Ken Burns is seen as over-the-hill and you might say today’s younger generation is not afraid of dying, but Biggie did, and Tupac too. That’s what happens when unstable people take the law into their own hands.

Like Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Now the truth of it is is that late night TV ratings are abysmal. Hell, there’s even little virality, usually. Fallon is in the rearview mirror. He’s Johnny Mathis in the era of the Beatles. Maybe the Four Seasons, with a few hits left in him, whereas…Colbert is Brian Wilson without the mental illness. He had hits in late night but then faltered when the revolution came but then got game. But Jimmy Kimmel? The guy who starred in the “Man Show”? Howard Stern’s best friend? Isn’t he MARGINAL?

That’s what you don’t understand about today’s environment. You do the work and then the system blows you up. You can’t premeditate it, it doesn’t stick. Kinda like Taylor Swift’s new singles. A lot of ink and then…nothing. Because when you work it the system plays along but the public does not. But when you’re true to yourself and resonate, you go nuclear.

You can’t premeditate art. You’ve got to do it for yourself. Get aligned with your inner tuning fork and you never know what will happen. The records by the usual suspects committee can be toppled, if those outside the system are willing to take a risk.

And no, don’t e-mail me your protest song. That’s not the point. These things blow up by THEMSELVES! And they’re irrelevant unless they’re ubiquitous. That’s another thing working against music, it’s all about the niche, and if you expect the labels to break the logjam you probably own Clive Davis’s “Greatest Hits,” but the last I checked, he never wrote a note, never recorded a record, that’s left to the ARTISTS!

Will someone capture the zeitgeist and make us all pay attention?

I’m not confident, this has not happened in years.

But the world situation hasn’t been this bad in years.

Now you can’t please everybody and you’re gonna be prone to backlash. The right wing controls the debate, with their inane claim that the Emmy ratings were down because the show was too political, anti-Trump, when the truth is the ratings for the VMAs were down, all the awards shows, because the younger generation ain’t tuned in to appointment TV and many people just don’t care.

They’re pushing back all the time.

And those in the arts are afraid.

But not Jimmy Kimmel. Not Stephen Colbert. Not people who were famous for NOT taking a side. Which side was Johnny Carson on? Who knows? But that’s why musicians many years his junior dominated the conversation, despite there being only three networks.

So, perusing the Spotify Top 50 or reading the front page of the “New York Times”?

It’s no contest.

And like the dear departed Leonard Cohen once sang…

Everybody knows.

We’ve got to shelve the endless self-congratulatory singing of “Hallelujah” and go with this much more appropriate song.

Meanwhile, we sit back while the NFL blackballs Colin Kaepernick as its ratings tank, what, are we living in the sixties once again? Where the old men in charge are out of touch and the young people have to rise up?

So far, it’s only the women who are taking a stand, against bro culture in Silicon Valley.

But there are much bigger targets.

Then again, the Senators are reacting to deep pocket donors pissed that the ACA still stands, and you expect me to be interested in the ramblings of nincompoops in “Rolling Stone”?

Not gonna happen.


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