At one of those convention-like events, where companies were in full blow-out party mode (where ice cream and treats were free), this note was found enclosed in a chocolate dipped fortune cookie:
“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footsteps on the moon.”
It kind of fit in with the event (like most corporate events) where ‘things are going to be OK’ and ‘technology will fix your [medical, in this case] problems’. Now, this is only once sentence, and the deconstruction of it may seem like a waste of time and electrons, but the underlying sentiment makes me think that the author (a bit of the DuckDuckGo turns up this was penned by Brandt Paul, in a song There’s A World Out There) may live a bit (like many of us) in a world of unreality. Now, the song seems to be written with some classic romantic lines and American references (it mentions the captain of the football team!), so it can’t be judged that harshly, but the underlying message is something that seems to have come from the core of our idealized culture, with ‘clear skies’, ‘green earth’, and ‘blue water’ (which aren’t clear, green, or blue in many places) – a Never Never Land of unbridled optimism.
It also brings to mind some themes that this blog and others have steadfastly trumpeted. One, the “Don’t tell me” part immediately made me think of the ‘lets ignore inconvenient facts’ meme that seems to permeate the culture at large, and two, the everpresent trope of ‘footsteps on the moon’, an offshoot of the ever popular “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we [fill in the blank].” Thirdly, and from an overall perspective, it taps into the meme of ever expanding and ever improving progress.
The point on ‘footprints on the moon’ is the least bothersome. The possibility of going back to the moon is still real; the Chinese are planning a few moon trips, and might plant some boots there in a few years. If, for some real and needed reason we needed to go back to the moon, it might be doable (of course, we’d have to do it with Russian engines, or perhaps something from one of the private space programs). There might be even pretty damn good reasons to go back space (the asteroid threat, which was completely forgotten by me a few weeks ago), but they might be more along the lines of handling real, concrete, and statistically important existential threats, rather than bailing us out of our current predicament.
The other points are ones that are reflexive to most of the world’s operating system – “Don’t tell me bad stuff/reality,” and “we’ll always get better,” and that’s the real tough thing, and probably the most unsettling. Popular music reflects the culture, of course (being part of it), so again, we can’t lean too hard on Brandt Paul. My more detailed knowledge of pop music kinda stops aways back, and like most people past a certain age, his music isn’t on my radar. He is a country singer to boot, so that’s another reason (he’s Canadian, so at least we know he’s probably pretty polite, and was raised to be a decent human being). In listening the the rest of the song, these comes up in the lyrics as well:
I wanna do my walkin’ down the road less traveled
Sew my dreams where they won’t unravel
If you play it safe you won’t get nowhere
I can’t stay in here when there’s a world out there
The sentiment and lyrics that follow says to go off the road less traveled, and that’s fine by me. We are all going to have to go down the less traveled road of a simpler life, with less stuff, less complexity, and less nonsense. There will always be a world out there, for sure, but getting to it is going to be a lot harder. In a strange twist, perhaps it will make future adventures even grander, and life’s victories taste even sweeter.
Rock and roll (and the amped up country music that accompanied it) has mostly preached the endless summer (think the early Beach Boys, of course), and being forever young. Some artists (Mark Knopfler’s song Telegraph Road, and Bruce Springsteen’s albums Nebraska and Born in the U.S.A. come to mind immediately) have told us that life doesn’t always work out for the best, and that hard times can sometimes befall even the strongest. Something to think about. Fortune cookies, chocolate coated or not, need more reality, not less. Every bit of our culture should be telling us life is going to be different, and we should be paying attention.
From the question portion of this week’s blog:
- What music, for you, reflects our difficult future ahead; what sums up what our life like might be like? Who ‘gets it’?
- Who are the peak aware musicians, fine artists, sculptors, and playwrights?
- Rock and roll (and the amped up music that surrounds it, of all stripes) may go the way of the dodo as electricity becomes sketchy. And as travel becomes more difficult (for performers and fans alike), arena rock won’t be around, even with the magic of the Internet and Skype-on-steroids. What might replace it? When, like in an inverse Dylan, will we all go acoustic?
- How will future music refer to our era?