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Last night I was watching something on TV and in the background the Rolling Stones were playing. Then a truck commercial came on and I realized just why I don't like the Rolling Stones.
Their music has become the cheap, tug at the heartstrings, music for the boomer generation. As such, their songs have littered truck commercials, pushed software, made a cameo in about every movie ever made about the Vietnam era and been pummeled into our heads by every marketing exec without a shred of imagination (yes, that's all of them).
The songs of the Rolling Stones have become so symbolic that any heart they ever had has been yanked right out of them.
Advertising's chief aim is to steal the soul of real experience and transfer those emotions to products. So it is without shame that advertisers will plumb whatever reservoir of experience available to dig into our psyches, be it music or images, or icons or sports figures or movies.
New products have no emotional impact on us other than what can be rubbed off by connecting it to a song, or a scene of domestic bliss or even positive emotions we have about a celebrity.
Art itself is a manipulation of our emotions. Sad songs can bring us down, happy songs can get our blood pumping and bad songs can make us want to run away yowling in pain. Its that power over us that causes many of us to love music so much. Its like a drug. You dose yourself with the songs that you want to control you. The perfect song can make an experience even more significant. Over time we begin to associate memories with songs, smells, weather and our other senses.
Just a few seconds of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" is enough to send us back to eighth grade, the state fair, the smell of corndogs, farm animals and memories of a cute girl with bangs that stood straight up.
Or maybe that's just me?
Its a silent tragedy that most artists lose control over their own creations. I have to laugh at the protestations of the record labels who claim to be battling for the "rights of the artists" when the first act most undertake is to seize control of an artist's songs for any and all future use. It would be far less common to see great musical works of art paired up with cheap-ass products if the artists were the arbitors of such use. Not that it wouldn't ever happen, but I would like to think it would be with a greater sense of moderation.
I can expect that in another ten, twenty or thirty years we will see the music of my youth pimped day in and day out for the sake of usurping my good nostalgic feelings to make me desire a product.
Lately, I had to groan when I saw a Swiffer commercial set to the tune of Devo's "Whip it". I'm not sure anything can cause as visceral a reaction than to see some surburban housewife running around in a fit of cleaning frenzy singing along to Devo.
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Dissolve into Evergreens