Saturday, March 03, 2012

Pop Culture - Why doesn't America receive as well as give?


Check out the kid with the guitar:





The "kid with the guitar" is actually 31 or something like that...but you've never heard of him, right?  Never saw him in his  glam-rock phase or maybe it's still going on - it's hard to tell in America.

I came across Miyavi by accident - something Youtube remotely related to something else I was watching.   Needless to say, this is the most amazing guitar playing I've seen in a while.   The guy can coax whatever sounds he wants out of the beast, it seems, that "fit" whatever is needed for the rest of the song.

I bring this up because it's an excellent example of how well we're conditioned towards seeing our own purview as pretty much the universe.   Plus, it's a shame that a guy who can play guitar like this is almost completely unknown in the United States. Especially since, if I recall from what I read, he actually lived  here for a while.

And, when you come across something like this, it's like finding life on other planets: If there's one Miyavi, besides the talent I already know exists there must be millions of them; that is, there must be millions of talented folks I've never known.  And there are.  That's a pretty amazing thought, especially since the number of acts that are famous are few and far between.

I do hope that Miyavi, and those of his talent  find more renown in the USA; we need some kind of popular music renaissance.    We haven't really had any kind of cultural effect in our music from a foreign place since the "British Invasion" of the '60s - unless you count its aftershock of punk/New Wave, which I guess you could, since even Disney movies make reference to Depeche Mode.  Too, folks like Leonard Cohen are far more well-known abroad than here.  (We share him with the Canadians, who are pleased to have the opportunity to "export" Canadian content to the US - but Cohen's lived everywhere, including the USA.) 

I remember the '60s and '70s. Even in the mid-60s, stuff like this looked strange and remotely ancient:





The thing is, much of the music that's still selling well now is about as old as that clip was in the late 60's/early 70s.

Culturally, for whatever reason - maybe America's own love with its own form of conservative Stalinism that only allows "so much" pop culture - we're stuck in a period defined by what happened 40 years ago,  with notable exceptions...no...wait...rap music has its roots in the 70s/early 80s...Lady Gaga owes a lot to Madonna...Justin Bieber...well, enough said about him...you get my point.

Of course there was true innovation in music back then. And this is not to say that today's music is entirely vast, frozen, white wasteland, with apologies to Frank Zappa.  And yeah, Miyavi owes quite a bit to other guitarists as well...though...to be fair to him, I don't know other artists that are in his generation - or otherwise -  who have videos on YouTube - made outside the US, evidently - that do the equivalent of  tell you how to do  "Miyavi slap guitar."

And I guess this post doesn't have much to do with Buddhism in general, save to say, "Keep an open mind."


4 comments:

Angulimala said...

Here’s Miyavi in Texas

http://wn.com/Miyavi_in_Texas

His guitar style is a derivative of Leadbelly.

You must be missing something, Mumon, as this guy toured the USA and a good deal of other countries in 2010 and 2011.

The Eddie Cantor video struck a chord with me, as I know his granddaughter, Judy Larkin. Larkin is her married name via her nuptials with John Paul Larkin, a virtually unknown Jazz piano player and Scat singer who was also a stutterer. Like in Mel Tillis the country singer.

Judy learned the music business at her grandfather’s knee and John mostly played clubs around L. A. for fifty bucks or some kind of chump change. In the early 90’s Judy said you got talent, but you’re in the wrong country. She took him to Europe.

Wikipedia does a better job of telling the story:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scatman_John

He sold millions of records in Europe and Japan. He sold out tours. All of this success was in his mid fifties. And, to boot, it could not have happened to a nicer guy that was unknown in his native country but out sold Michael Jackson in Japan one year.

Then he died.

But I’ll bet you never heard of him. On one website dedicated to him one comment was: “John never stuttered because every word he ever said was worth saying twice.”

Was this some kind of mind to mind transmission?

Can’t say. Don’t know.

Mumon:
“Culturally, for whatever reason - maybe America's own love with its own form of conservative Stalinism that only allows "so much" pop culture [Buddhism]- we're stuck in a period defined by what happened 40 years ago, with notable exceptions...no...wait...rap music has its roots in the 70s/early 80s...Lady Gaga owes a lot to Madonna...Justin Bieber... [Dogen Punk].... well, enough said about him...you get my point.”

I don’t know about points.

Can’t say.

Mumon said...

I do know Miyavi toured the US in 2010-2011, but he's been around for about a decade now.

Too, if you go to the "traditional" pop music media such as Rolling Stone or Spin, the name Miyavi is absent.

On the other hand, looking at YouTube, as I noted, there's a huge following.

Yeah, I never heard of Scatman John - thanks for the tip. And I'm honored that folks like you read this blog.

Angulimala said...

"Oh by the way, which one's Pink?"

What came to mind was Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar”

“The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think.
Oh by the way, which one's Pink?”

I recall the mid to late sixties when FM radio and its music was wide open.

I also recall the corporate dog fight over the control of the record business.

Many artists were marginalized and suffered for lack of exposure.

Somehow I just goggled > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_industry to the 20th century > “At the dawn of the early 20th century, the recording of sound began to function as a disruptive technology in music markets.” > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology

I was astounded by what direction “disruptive technology” lead me.

I hope that the firebrand that calls its self “Miyavi”, twirls fast enough so as to appear as a wheel of fire to the whole world.

I hope, also, that he survives the phenomenon.

Notes in Samsara is quite worthy of reading, thank you. _/\_

Mumon said...

Angulimala :

Thanks for the kind words...