“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” (von Goethe) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a gifted playwright, novelist, poet, statesman, scientist, and philosopher. But above all these marvelous titles he was an amazing thinker! Listen to what his quote says; It is the function (why it’s here, and how it’s supposed to work) , he then continuous saying, ‘that it’s supposed to renew our perception’.
So it doesn’t necessarily changes our perception,what we really appreciate right now, we’ll probably like for years to come, but in its historical context, yours and the world’s. Your taste in music for instance can change overnight though, through associations with bad situations, bad people, or your ears certainly recognizing that it was really shitty music to begin with. Your perception was pure, and pristine to begin with and uniquely yours! But as with all things, it requires maintenance! Through the years the artistic receptors in your brain got cluttered with too much junk, or creative clutter. Since I don’t like the combination of the words creative and clutter, because real creativity is never clutter, I’ll put ‘pseudo‘ in front of the word ‘creative’. So that’s Pseudo Creative Clutter!
Speaking of such! A lot of the music cranked out in the Southern Gospel music scene is nothing more than the same old same old….clutter…..it really is. Music today in general is almost reduced to wall of sound, with less melody, lyrical content and more bpm’s(beats per minute), except of course in P&W (Praise & Worship) music, that’s all about no beat per minute. On the other hand, P&W scores big in the less lyrical content, less melody departments. In SGM it’s all about who wins the (some say fixed) Dove awards, fixed or not, those awards are really awards for being the most ridiculously predictable. And of course’s singing SGM is apparently the best job not to retire from. Because you probably didn’t make enough money singing for decades, and you simply can’t. Unless you’re Bill Gaither who made tons of money, and still keeps on, keeping on.
The creative impasse in SGM, in my opinion has to do with a media conglomerate. Media conglomerates strive for policies that facilitate their control of the markets around the world.There’s a media conglomerate active in SGM today (Gaither). One I believe keeps a lot of old folks in the business, and leaves the much desired young guns out of it. I love SGM’s heritage, don’t get me wrong! I appreciate the some of wonderful things the conglomerate brought us. God know’s that at that time SGM needed a bit more professionalism!
But with professionalism came big money, and it is followed by the word exclusive. ‘Exclusive‘ translates to excluding everyone who is a potential threat to your media-empire. That’s what it is, hate to pop your spiritual bubble, but it is not only run as an empire…it is an empire…with a emperor! Who runs it like an empire. I know, I know…you gotta make money to fund your overhead, all in order to preach the Word…right? Amen brother, amen! Each nite you get up there and sing, and maybe occasionally even a classic like ‘He Will Provide’, but really don’t have the faith that He actually will. That’s why less of y’all will take a ‘love offering’. It’s obvious that revival doesn’t last a life time….otherwise there wouldn’t be use for a word such as ‘revival’.
Some of you might say, what is your beef with SGM? Nothing! Got no beef, other than that it’s all about playing safe…lyrically, musically and creatively ..and safe gets corny, cliché fast. It’s the same stuff over and over…you name it! It’s stacks, tracks, and polo’s with slacks. Secular music at least tolerates a ‘alternative scene! Some produce the most inspiring unique artists! That’s what in SGM circles is referred to as ‘locals’ and ‘amateurs, and the consumers/buyers won’t give em the light of day because the pro’s say they are. “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures‘ Cesar Chavez once said. The ‘industry‘ isn’t preserving SGM, it’s protecting it in a fierce manner. No strangers (aliens) allowed, unless they are granted a safe passage from the emperor himself.
Bill Gaither (bless his heart) has become the Bob Ross of SGM, painting the same corny thing every time. It’s one reproduction after another. And as all art appreciating snobs know, is that a repro is for the (creatively) poor. If you can’t afford a Van Gogh, don’t be hanging fakes on your wall. Art collectors are greedy for great art, and not great names. I’m a collector, not a buyer! I’ll gladly hand over a thousand dollars, in exchange for a true work of art, it will last me a life time. But I refuse to spare you a dime for a ‘knock off’...then regret will probably haunt me for that same life span. “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us”. That’s what Marten Luther, theologian and blatant anti-Semite said. Being wrong about one thing doesn’t disqualify the essence of that quote. Let me conclude with a quote that describes accurately what the situation in SGM today is like, here’s what Mr. Machiavelli said;
“Hence it comes about that all armed Prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed Prophets have been destroyed’.