I've always sort of wondered when I'd shake my teenage angst. At 25, it doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon. I'm in college debt, cut it close to paying my bills with a part time job and continue to juggle two internships - one of them being with this site. For my parents, 25 was figured out. For some of my friends, 25 is being settled. There's more, there has to be more than just settled, right? There's a tight rope (read: noose) of mediocrity we walk (read: hang from) every day with choosing to let small details go by or choosing to get swept up in the stagnant acceptance of what is and will never change. But alas, we all still have the power of making ourselves something, leaving that lasting footprint that no amount of artificial contamination and fiscal damnation can tarnish for generations to come. They're ideas. They're discussions. They're thoughts that leave room for subjective chit-chat among the elite and the lowbrow alike. While I do enjoy Justin Vernon's contribution to the greater art of music, I'm overly infatuated with what he has to say about the subject of "award" in an industry that bastardizes art into a commodity. I think Vernon leaving out this line from his acceptance speech was probably bittersweet -
"Itís hard to accept this award because of all the talent out there, but also because Bon Iver is an entity and something that I gave myself to. A lot of people give themselves to it, so itís hard to think of Bon Iver as an artist. Bon Iver is not an artist. Bon Iver is an idea.Ē - SPIN article
See, some people will take that line as elitist and superficial and overly pretentious. Most of those people probably have no idea who Bon Iver is to begin with. As I've been dissecting that quote all day, trying to decipher its meaning like a Rubik's cube, I want to apply the quote more broadly outside of just Bon Iver, because the same should go for any artist doing anything anywhere at anytime. Music is considered an art to some because art can be sort of an escapism. There's so many rules set in stone to some degree in our society that when it comes to painting, street art, short films, comic books and even sitting down to let your soul out in one perfectly placed crescendo or chorus line - you don't want restrictions. The worst restrictions can come after the art is made, and that's the judgement we as critics and "sweet hookups" end up making, and I think that's what Vernon is renouncing - the idea that an "idea" can be judged and made to be something more or less than what it is - just an "idea," plain and simple. Take it or leave it.
Forever acclaimed, most will tell you that the music that "lasts" is the music that "went against the grain" or "revolutionized how things were" for a generation or a specific group of people during a specific time (generally set against the grain of how societal norms are going and political strife is effecting this and that and so on) - but it's not the revolution itself that connects, it's the unspoken integrity. Thousands of Bon Iver fans aren't excited about the win, they're stoked for a hot minute that something that they believe in their hearts to be true and heartfelt made it past the polished bullshit most of us sat through for three hours on Sunday night. It was a sign that maybe "they" (they being: industry, the general public, lowbrow, fat pockets) got that music like Bon Iver is needed past the quick hits and NOW! That's What I Call A Radio Dial compilations that continue to sell for whatever reason.
There are writers, publications, artists, labels and the whole of this industry that have this sort of "agenda" to them. There's this line of constantly wanting to be right and in the "know" of what's next. Most of these people are just older versions of ourselves. They once loved music, pogo'd during a Ramones show once and were old enough to understand how revolutionary Nirvana was while only realizing Fugazi was an equal underground counterpart years later. Some fuckbag once told me a review I wrote about a show was horrible because I was attached to it nostalgically and it was written from "my heart" for lack of a better phrase. That's it. That's where music comes from, right? That's why certain albums and songs last for years and others become that one-trick pony thing. Is that the right phrase? Isn't art supposed to come from the heart and an unspoken feeling to begin with and therein find a connection once done - not force it to happen through airplay, television soundtracks and ad-spots? When Dylan Baldi destroys his guitar in what can be deemed as one of the most perfect displays of swelling frustration to grace a record in some time on "Wasted Days," the proceeding "I thought I would be more than this!" over and over and over again has been stuck now for days in the back of my head. I wonder if for every pop artist with a hit single or Grammy win or those millionaires that have gone bankrupt and regret their footprints of drawn-out, overplayed Clear Channel radio rubbish, if for a second that line haunts them for days on end.