I have to laugh when I hear people lamenting the sorry shape of modern music. Usually they are referring to the condition of Top 40 pop or country radio.
My feeling is quite the opposite. I think we're probably in a golden age of great music and creativity, with more really good music available and more easily accessible than at any time in human history. It is easier than ever for creative musicians to get their music recorded.
In fact, there are a lot of musicians with little recording studios set up in a spare room, basement or barn that can rival the major studios of the early 1960s, and there are a half dozen excellent professional studios tucked away in the woods within a half hour or so of our office here in Bellows Falls.
You're going to have to do a little digging to find it, but there an incredible amount of great music being recorded now - it's just that most of it is not being done by the major labels.
This was brought to my attention with the latest issue of Paste magazine, which had several Best of the Decade lists, including Best CD.
I knew most of the movies listed, and all of the television programs, but at the very top of the list for best CDs was a name new to me, Sufjan Stevens, and his CD Illinois. I was familiar with a number of the names on the top 25 CD list, including offerings by some personal favorites like Ryan Adams, The Shins, Beck, Amy Winehouse, Rufus Wainwright, Josh Ritter, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, The White Stripes, Radiohead and Wilco, but not to have heard of the list topper was personally a bit jarring.
Well, I've heard of him now, and if you're interested, you might start by listening to his provocative "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." Yes, as in the serial killer. A remarkable song.