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Topic: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    I'm not sure if disillusionment is a sign of our times. Neil Young was regarded as a voice of hope back in the 60's. Now he is singing a different tune. Breitbart reports:
    "We just don't have to go and spread democracy around the world." Canadian folk rock legend Neil Young said he has lost all hope that music can change the world, as he presented a documentary about his 2006 anti-war concert tour at the Berlin film festival on Friday.

    "I know that the time when music could change the world is past. I really doubt that a single song can make a difference. It is a reality," Young told reporters.
    Do you think music can still change the world?

  2. #2
    Senior Member bigears's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Central Illinois

    Re: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    I believe music can profoundly affect people. And people can change the world, it is just a slow, difficult process. I'm surprised to hear that Neil Young is so disenchanted, he has been involved in many causes like FarmAid.
    Regards, John

  3. #3

    Re: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    Well that's just silly.

    Of course music can change the world.

    We just need to massage a few of our leaders
    with 2x4's to get them to listen up.


  4. #4

    Re: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    Music can introduce ideas - and so can anybody with a platform. It is ideas that can change the world.

    MLK may have been assassinated, but his ideas live on. His platform didn't include music, but there are songs that help to keep his ideas alive.

  5. #5

    Re: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    Borrowing from Oscar Wilde, whose writings I'm rather in tune with because of studies which led to my musical stage adaptation of "The Picture of Dorian Gray"--

    --All art is useless.

    When an artist becomes polemic, trying to Make A Statement - his output ceases to be Art.

    No book, no piece of music, no painting, no play - no piece of Art ever Changed The World.

    The love and appreciation of music and all art elevates its participants, --and:

    --People who are busily engaged truly loving art are too busy with that activity to even think about starting wars, (or artificially prolonging them), or of engaging in any kind of strife with his fellow creatures.

    Change comes about in individuals, not in masses of people simultaneously.

    Neil is right - It was a naive, immature notion that "music can change the world" - But music Does change individuals. It rearranges their molecules into more open, humanistic, sensitive creatures - on a one-by-one basis.

    Politically conservative artists are so rare that I haven't actually ever met one in Real Life.

    The bigger picture, which moves from the naive, to the realistic, and beyond, into the spiritual--is that while music cannot literally change the world, it Can change us on an individual basis, and the cumulative effect, is that Then the world changes--after sufficient eons have passed.

    ---But composers, writers, painters cannot spend their time hoping to cause Change. If that's what they want to do, they would more effectively be writing religious or philosophical pamphlets to pass out on street corners. They have to simply be One with the rhythm of life, of existence, and then communicate and pass on what is given to them from their Higher Selves--and trust that their creations won't fall on deaf ears.

    If "Change" is brought about by anything an artist does - that's perhaps a Bonus--but that isn't the purpose of creating art.

    Randy B.

  6. #6

    Re: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    I'm not so familiar with Oscar Wilde's works or philosophies, but I'd say if art is useless, it's not art! Art can never be useless. By it's nature, it exists for something, whether to please the ear or to delight the eyes or to say a message. And I'm sure Oscar had something to say with his art... otherwise he wouldn't have created it! So I'm not sure what Oscar meant by "all art is useless", but by itself sounds completely wrong.

    In the education thread, not too long ago, I said that no matter how much "quality education" everyone gets, we're still not all going to agree on everything, politically or religiously.

    Same with music, and all art. It's not useless, and it can change the world (every piece of art changes at least a piece of the world), but it is naive to believe that any piece of art would ever make everyone suddenly share the same political or religious viewpoint. Maybe it's human nature for almost everyone to have that belief in the back of their mind, like the hope that someday they'll be rich famous... and most of us realize that that probably (or definitely) won't be the case, no matter how hard we work. But perhaps Neil just had that dream, that he could get everyone to agree on something, and now realizes the truth of the matter. (On a side note, if your message is something like "war is evil and bad" or "love is good" ... well, duh! Those are not the roots of the issues...)

    It sort of reminds me of some young hopeful singer dreaming that they can please Simon Cowell, and then crying out of the auditioning room wondering how his or her rejection can be real... (Stop including other people's reactions in your dreams! You'll be far less disappointed!)

    Well, at least Neil Young is already more famous than most.

    Still, even if you don't achieve fame and riches, and even if you don't unite all religions and political parties with a love ballad, I still believe in the butterfly effect, and that every little thing you do makes a big (though perhaps undetectable) change in the world. So always choose the path you believe is right and do the best you can...

    Everything you do matters.

    (Watch out, this post is gonna change the world!)
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  7. #7

    Re: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    Of course music can change the world. The problem is that the days when a sizable body of musicians wanted to change the world are gone.

  8. #8

    Re: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    Hello there, Sean!--We've been playing Tag in some interesting threads recently!

    It's a paradoxical thing Wilde posited when he said in the preface, and then in the text of "Dorian Gray" that "all art is quite useless." It was a capsulization of the "Art for Art's Sake" movement of the late 19th Century. And it's still worthy of discussion, because it's still a deep and challenging concept.

    I loved reading your reply, and I offer that it's written from the same view point which Neil Young is now trying to explain as something he's matured out of.

    In the theatre realm, it's long been observed that plays which have A Statement, a big Point to make--are the least successful pieces in terms of artistry. Theatre at its most pure form simply explores the Human Condition--without making judgments about the topics it explores. That doesn't always equate to the most Pop(ular) theatre, but theatre which has that pure intent of simply exploring the complexities of what it means to be human always turn out to be the most immortal works--hence the way Shakespeare's works are still held up as the best plays ever written. He doesn't make judgments about his characters, he explores them, and through their tragedies illuminates many profound things about the Human Condition.

    Wilde is held in higher esteem as a writer and thinker Now than ever before, because he wasn't simplistic in his thinking.

    When said that Art is Useless, he was also saying that it's no more useful than a flower--as the character Lord Henry says in "Dorian" says, it gives a moment of joy when we smell it. What more profound effect can we ask of Anything?

    To insist that the experience of smelling a flower, or hearing a piece of music, or reading a novel Should have a specific meaning and purpose beyond the mere experiencing of those things on their own--is to reduce the possibilities of Art to the predictabilities of putting a jig-saw puzzle together.

    As soon as creative people think they can convey a Message--they become preachers, "pamphleteers"--and their creative output becomes propaganda for a given cause.

    Pure Art is profound and meaningful on its own terms, not because it illustrates a moral lesson, or is a hymn sung by a religious congregation, or is an Anthem of any sort to anything beyond what it Is itself.

    Music, prose, --any kind of art form which comes full circle, which is perfectly explicable to everyone--is no longer actual Art--it's an advertisement. It's a product, a predicable formula which may be successful today but will, I guarantee you, forgotten tomorrow.

    I fully and rather passionately feel exactly what Wilde was talking about - that when Art becomes "useful" in the sense of being instructive, it instantly is no longer Art.

    Everything you do matters because you're either adding to the propaganda of various causes, which is motivated by a desire to Change people (never an honorable goal)--or you are simply reflecting the glory of creation which has no other Purpose than to say "Isn't life amazing?"

    All art is QUite useless--and therein lies its glory.

    Randy B.

  9. #9
    Senior Member fastlane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Shelton, Washington State

    Re: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    Time changes the world, it changes you and it changes me.

    Time comes slinking like a whore,

    falls wanking to the floor.

    It's trick is you and me.


  10. #10

    Re: Music cannot change the world, says Neil Young

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst View Post
    Music can introduce ideas - and so can anybody with a platform.
    Nonsense. Music itself doesn't introduce any ideas except purely musical ideas and they hardly change anything. It's the people behind the music, that may advocate ideas and they do it with words. Music just gives them a pr-platform to speak out their mind and be heard.

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