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…have axe, will grind…

March 1, 2012

Recently I posted on my blog my concerns about the lack of angst in today’s youth culture compared with the music scene of the late 70s and early 80s.

The similarities between Cameron’s Conservative led coalition and Thatcher’s Britain are palpable to say the least. Youth unemployment was as rife then as it is now, but then we had bands like The Specials, The Clash, The Jam – I could go on ad infinitum – whereas today’s charts are dominated by boy bands run by management companies like SyCo and Global Radio, whose only motive is making massive profits off the back of selling tacky merchandise to prepubescent girls. My eight year old daughter has a pair of JLS pyjamas! Here is the target audience and yet they also have a range of condoms to peddle. But that’s a whole different can of worms.

In August last year, a section of Britain’s youth were roundly criticised for leading the riots, and rightly so. I’m all for bit of political protest – I enjoy a march as much as the next activist – but looting and arson for self interest is, in my book at least, beyond the pale.

Part of the problem is the lack of a coherent voice. Where we once had Joe Strummer, Jerry Dammers, Paul Weller et al, we now have Professor Green (can anyone tell me at which University he plies his trade?), Dappy (name says it all), and Harry ‘barely-out-of-nappies’ Styles. And the message? “I’ve got da bling. I’ve got da swagga.” It’s a mantra of, “I’m better than you because I’ve got what you haven’t.” What should be of actual concern to today’s yoot, is rising unemployment and the apathy of the powers-that-be and their inability to offer credible solutions.

What I am saying is this. There’s little point having an axe if you’re not going to grind it once every so often. No one’s going to listen to some hoodie banging on about how miserable his/her life is if he/she has just lifted a plasma from Currys with the aid of a brick. What will give you credence, kudos and power to your elbow is picking up a guitar, microphone, drum kit, synth or whatever and expressing yourself creatively. Not everyone’s going to like the results, but that’s half the point. You might never sell a single record (sorry, that’s very middle aged of me), you might never flog a single download, but the outlet of your creativity will shape and focus powerful communication skills that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life. You may, on the other hand,at some point in the future, be standing at an awards ceremony, holding a trophy and thanking everyone who’s helped you get where you have. And if you do, please don’t forget to mention the person who wrote the article that inspired you to get off your arse in the first place.


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