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Seeking musical ecstasy outside the mainstream



Published: Fri, January 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Pop culture -- in all of its glory of glitz and glamour, makeup and money, and cushy fluff melodies and choreographed dance concerts -- has forever prevailed as the mainstream in our weakened society.

With songs about superficial feelings packaged with suggestive lyrical candy and catchy chorus hooks, the youth of our day can hardly help but be reeled in by the hype.

But where are the true musicians of our day? Where are our motivating Bob Dylan and our mesmerizing Frank Zappa?

The entire world of commercialized music lacks elements of the purity of genuine music.

True musicians create for the sake of their lifelong lust for emotional freedom, writing to share and inspire the legions of the musically deprived with experimentation of harmonies, meter, even extra-musical sound.

Somewhere they exist in that ultrasecret world of the underground, and something strikes curiosity to know what makes these people so mysteriously desirable.

About values: Countless previous testaments have spouted out such crimes of pop music as demoralization -- hardly anyone in the mainstream even writes their own music -- or "concerts" where dancing and stage costumes are more important than the actual songs.

Valid statements, yes, but nevertheless, rock 'n' roll was founded in stage antics and, occasionally, prewritten melodies. Elvis, with his rendition of Big Momma Thorton's "Hound Dog" plus those famous hips of his, is a prime example.

Something more must exist to make the nonmainstream exude a cleaner and genuine value far above that of the popular.

Freedom. Music should be free, honest and, above all, the only agenda.

In an ideal world, no one would suffer trying to please other people and trends. Artists would create the release of tension that they, personally, can no longer contain alone.

In the world of singer-songwriters, that independence reflects the quality of sound.

Here one expects the unexpected, anticipates, in that moment of calm, a rhythmic or melodic turn, and revels in joy, knowing that this song will not fall victim to millions of screaming fanatics who would drown out the beauty of the music.

Popular music stifles creative forces by catering to what big-business record executives think the public wants, rather than using the obvious musical talent to create strikingly beautiful art.

A delight: New into the limelight is Pete Yorn, a romantic trip into a lavish and sweetly sanguine world of heartbeat-changing rhythms and blissful chord progressions, adding layer upon layer for future discovery and listening delight.

Playing nearly all the instruments from 12-string guitar to harmonica to drums on his debut record, "Music for the Morning After," which came out back in March, talent nearly spills from him.

Like a person sipping an espresso at an outdoor caf & eacute;, Pete writes of his observations of the surrounding world of vastly different people all suffering the same life problems. One type of music will, undoubtedly, never please everyone; however, coining pop music as brilliantly crafted art is simply a false statement.

If one takes away all of the decorations that pop thrives on, nothing exists to assist the weak production of the music. Looking to the nonmainstream for a musical savior is our own hope for true musical ecstasy.

XElizabeth Cannon, 17, is a senior at Austintown Fitch High School who also is taking classes at Youngstown State University. She is a member of the National Honor Society, an admitted addict of the guitar and a fan of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jeff Buckley.




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