Everybody Wants To Rule The World
I don't believe that title anymore. There was a time that I did. Certainly, there have been bands and musical artists who seemed momentarily to conquer the world. But that's not the norm and probably less so that ever.
In the age of digital exchanges and streaming platforms, there is almost no chance that a musician can rule the world. It's essentially impossible to rule the music charts let alone the political structures. (In fact, many of the musical charts have disintegrated.)
And in these days of the pandemic, we also can see that there are ways in which no human being is really in charge. For the first time in my life, we are seeing something affecting all of humanity in such a massive way. If you are like me and many friends of mine, you are learning a lot about yourself these days.
You Can't Always Get What You Want
Our reality is a long way away from being able to rule the world. One of the brave truths of this world is that you don't always get what you ask for. And while we watch people hoard toilet paper, I am deeply aware that this truth is no excuse for taking more than we need. Fortunately, musicians don't need to be hoarders. There's no need to act out of scarcity. The best artists are also incredibly generous to other people in the same or similar creative pursuits.
The good news is that there's no shortage of inspiration, notes, chord sequences, phrases, musical colorings, and lyrics. As hard as we may try to be original, we will come up with something that we think is new while also sounding all too familiar. One person will hear a well-known hymn and someone else will hear a theme from one of the Classical master composers. Often, it's the hook that reminds the listener of some sound they already know that draws them into our song.
We Shall Overcome
That abundance of inspiration and untapped music is why we never need to give up. As stories of musicians rise up from the COVID-19 lockdown and pandemic, I am repeatedly inspired by them. Some are sad: several musical greats have been killed by the virus, including Ellis Marsalis Jr. and Wallace Roney.
At the same time, hundreds of musicians have taken to live-streaming because concerts were all canceled. Other musicians and artists are finding new ways to create and connect with fans in the face of the lockdown. We don't need to rule the world. Whatever else is true, while we have breath, we will be hanging in there.