Bush Kills Jazz
“ With the escalation of the censorship wars, which have been played out quite effectively by the FCC, big companies are afraid to create or play music that goes against the status quo. ”
"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." ~William O. Douglas
It won't be long now, a matter of weeks before the horrific possibility that George W. Bush will be re-elected. As the time grows near, as the realization that we are truly doomed looms large, I'm forced to consider the consequences, from the air I breathe to the food I eat, from my daughter's future to the music I prize.
How could a sitting President have a negative effect on Jazz? Let me count the ways. (Yes, I realize the consequences of publishing such thoughts these days but I have no choice...)
The Bush regime response to the threat of terrorism has been to create a Kingdom of Fear in the United States. There's a dark cloud of trepidation that hangs over this country today, a mindset that Bush and his henchman encourage and nourish with their daily terror alerts. Obviously, for re-election purposes, it's to their advantage to perpetuate this approach to the problem, an enigma that only they can resolve. In fact, if Dick Cheney has his way, they'll just suspend the constitution so they can stay in power, that way protecting us properly.
This dark cloud can't help but impact how people feel, how they act, what they do. Living in a state of increasing paranoia, most people become withdrawn, they are less likely to go out and spend money to have a good time. But wait you say, don't people need more entertainment, more diversion in times of crisis, to help them escape the ugly reality of life at the beginning of the new millennium?
In theory yes, but in terms of the current economic reality for most people in this country, no. Most folks aren't thriving like GW's pals, the top one percent who have all the money, and benefit from the Bush tax cuts. There are many many people working two or three jobs just to survive.
All those folks who used to have disposable income that went to buying CDs and going out to hear music, well, there are fewer and fewer people who can afford to do that now. Are you better off than you were four years ago?
As for those folks who aren't hurting, well, they're running scared, holding on to every dollar, just in case. That's the way it is in the Kingdom of Fear. You keep your money under the mattress and a gun near your bed.
Add to this, the rising price of oil. Whatever the details regarding the Saudi/Bush connection, it's fair to say that George W. is an oilman, and that those companies have prospered handsomely during his administration.
Thanks to the oil companies, the Saudis, and the other "new world order" folks, alternative fuel sources haven't been properly researched and developed. Like it or not, the consequences of not coming to grips with the diminishing supplies of fossil fuels are soon to be felt. In a just a matter of years, the Peak Oil Crisis is going to bring this planet to its knees. But for now, the oil barons get richer, and the price we pay for this soon-to-be depleted lifeblood of our civilization, escalates, daily.
And with every oil price increase, it becomes more and more expensive to travel. As if the increased security that surrounds every airline trip isn't bad enough, the cost keeps rising, as well. In Europe, gas has been around $3 a gallon for years, and that will soon become a reality in the US as well.
So for musicians, it's only matter of time before touring just becomes too costly. Aside from the superstars, financed by giant corporations, look for fewer touring groups.
One of the really sad things I've seen in my lifetime is the death of the working Jazz group. When I was coming up, there were many groups that were on the road constantly. It wasn't the most comfortable existence, and especially for African Americans in the South, but some great music was created during these years.
Nowadays, how many working groups are there in Jazz? I don't mean bands that play three or four dates, a couple of times a year. I'm talking about working groups, like Cannonball or the Jazz Messengers, who were on the road 48 weeks a year.
Playing together like that, all the time, creates a unique group dynamic, musically, that cannot be duplicated without that constant togetherness. The working bands also set up a dynamic wherein young musicians could serve an apprenticeship with a master like Miles or Horace Silver. That's over now.
More Bush, higher oil prices, escalated travel costs, less touring, even fewer working groups, see what I mean?
But wait, there's more.
Remember the Reagan years, when multi-national corporations strengthened their stranglehold on this country? With Bush and more Bush, the power of the corporation will be even worse. These conglomerates totally control the media, and for the most part, the music industry.