I recently read a fantastic interview in The Austin Chronicle of Austin, Texas with the Wilco frontman - Jeff Tweedy, who happens to be one of my favorite pop philosophers. Here's one of the best sections:
"AC: Obviously time and civilization move forward, but do you think music has lost anything in never having those mono Motown mixes again?
JT: I don't know. I think things sound good or they don't [laughs]. I think people will always find things that sound good to them. The only valid argument I have as far as the march of time and progress and what we're losing – and I don't think you can go back. I don't think you can turn back the hands of time in terms of what it really must have felt like to listen to records at the time when records were coming out. I'm talking vinyl versus a CD format, and jukeboxes: things that are imperfect that would come packaged with all this added emotion and depth and meaning because they sounded, literally, like they were transmissions from another planet. [Today], you have stuff that's so immediate that all you're doing is wallpapering your current world as opposed to hearing someone shouting across the void that there's another world out there. I don't think you have that anymore. I don't think people have that same perception-altering experience with music and this big moment where they realize they're not alone, and that there's a whole other world trying to communicate with them. I think the pops and scratches and static and all of that stuff communicated that.
AC: I was thinking about the line in "Wilco (the song)" about us all needing a "sonic shoulder to cry on." We all acknowledge the truth of that statement in our culture today, but I think back to the 1920s when they didn't have that. Are we a shallower culture because we need that? Why do we need that?
JT: Because we don't have each other as much as we did in the 1920s. We don't. We've been isolated by television and this idea that the world's expanding and you have to take on the emotions and heartbreak and misery of the entire world whereas in the 1920s people understood their communities and that's about it. Maybe some people would get the news filtered in from the world at large, but most people were pretty much ensconced in their day-to-day with the people they knew and were face to face with. I'm not a historian, but that's got to be a part of it."
He continues his observations with these thoughts:
"JT: Yeah. It's [contemporary information and media technologies (e.g. iPods)] mind-boggling. Obviously I spend way too much time philosophizing and intellectualizing all this stuff, but I'm entertained by it [laughs]. But I don't know. There's a lot of questions regarding technology and twittering and the whole culture around people being able to share their opinions before they're even formed has been. I think that's fascinating. What would Freud think? People have an unprecedented ability to communicate without affect. That's crazy [laughs]. And it seems to be really hot! People are buying into it. I can't imagine what the satisfaction is, but it's a way to communicate without having any affect."
You can read the interview in its entirety here.
[Thanks Matt Elia!]