Music is really powerful. I learned from a series of articles today that the economic opening of China in the late 70s had a unintended consequence for the Chinese government. Unbeknownst to them, the recording industry would discard millions of unused cassette tapes from popular recording artists. These discarded tapes would end up on recycling barges that would make their way over to mainland China where they would be sorted through for raw materials. However, some enterprising people in China realized that they could repair these discarded tapes and sell them to people in China. The portable walkman like playback devices were widely accessible. These tapes, known as dakou, or the giant gray market for selling Western music in China became incredibly popular.
It it interesting to note that the music interests in China did not develop in a normal chronological fashion. Kids would learn to like the Sex Pistols right along with recordings of John Denver. To them it was all cool, and consequently some really eclectic music interests developed. What was even more interesting is the revolution that began because of the ideas. Americans had assimilated the poetry of early Bob Dylan, and dealt with the cultural movement that would occur along with that. However, here was a culture that suddenly had access to all of Dylan’s music. Everything from Times are A Changing, to Desolation Row, to his Christian phase. You want a study in the impact of what happens when you dump several decades of cultural revolution on millions of young minds all at once?
What you do not know about that massacre is that they were playing music the entire time. The protests were more about music then they were about anything else. They were playing the music out loud and having their own peaceful protest while reliving the American cultural revolution in the 60s and 70s.
Anyway, this reminded me today of just how powerful music is. It is quire incredible the social change cultures from all over the world experienced with the proliferations of mass media. We did not have recorded music of any quality until after the technology was taken from Germany after WWII. It took a decade or so for it to become common place and by the time Sony’s Walkman came out in 1979 the recording industry completely revolutionized music. Fast forward today, when streaming services are common and every form of music is instantly available to almost every human on the planet – we have no idea the impact this will have in the time it takes for the youngest generation to get into power.
Governments think they are going to maintain control over their population? Good luck, the proliferation of streaming services and music is going to have one of the greatest social impacts that has ever happened. It may not seem that way listening to the commercial garbage that you hear in stores, but if you could listen into the air pods of millions and millions of young people throughout the planet – you would realize that there is a lot of messages being sent that span cultural, political, territorial lines.
Music is really powerful. Makes me realize how much I have been influenced and will be influenced by music that I listen to.