I think all of us will agree that 2017 was a strange year. For every monumental album record release, there was a tragedy. With every new artist dropping an amazing debut, industry standards released clunkers. Of course the same can be said for every year, but what makes 2017 stand out in particular? Along with that question comes another; Where do we go from here?
Without getting into politics, 2017 started things off with a foreboding sense of doom.
The year before saw the loss of David Bowie and Prince, so we weren’t even as shocked with the loss of Chris Cornell or Tom Petty. It’s not that we cared any less, but we were almost conditioned for defeat. America’s political landscape made most feel as if we lost before we even started. When a music icon passed, it felt completely normal. Expected even. With a perspective like that, it’s not surprising that feeling would bring the rest of the year down.
Not everything was a loss though. Just like the Resist movement in America, music fought back against negativity both political and industry related. Much like artists of the Vietnam War-era, artists (and artists of all entertainment formats) banned together to express their feelings and act upon personal convictions. What looked like division on the outside, may have been a niche unity the world hasn’t seen in years!
Now that 2017 is officially behind us, it’s important to look learn from the bad to make a better good.
There’s plenty of the negative to dwell upon when thinking back at the last 365 days. But you know what? We made it. We can now look back and say “Wow, what a terrible year, but we survived somehow!”. This reflection also means we probably learned a little bit about appreciating the sweet from the sour. For example, most of my reviews at 50thirdand3rd have been of artists new on the scene, do-it-yourself labels, or grass-root movements. If it weren’t for adversity maybe some of these releases wouldn’t even have happened?
Let’s not start praising the negative aspects just yet though. Music has always been about expression, be it positive or negative. But when a person is at their lowest point, a good record feels more than a small win. It can be a just enough of a glimmer of hope or a spark of inspiration to keep them going. On the surface, that may sound like the kind of thing you’d find in a Hallmark card, but just think back at some of your favorite records of the past year. When they were good, they were real good.
You may not realize it but empowerment is one of the most important aspects of music.
Those good records not only kept us from going crazy, but also made us feel part of something bigger. We clutched our fists together, we danced together, and most importantly, they brought us together. I attended a couple major music festivals in 2017 and the biggest take-away for me was how so many people came together and enjoyed something regardless of race, age, or religion. That’s some pretty powerful stuff when you think about it. Especially in a world where life-long friends block each other on social media because they ‘liked’ a political video they disagree with. I think 2017 tapped into that very aspect of unity through art.
I’ve never been one for New Years Resolutions but if you’re reading this article to this point, let’s do one. Don’t worry it’s simple: In 2018 lets appreciate what art can do in terms of bringing people together. Make a point to support the artists who support our longing for refuge. Let’s use the negative we may have endured to elevate the positive we’ve experienced. You may not have even realized it, but I think that’s how we made it through 2017 anyway.
After all, we know it’s only rock n’ roll but we all like it.