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The EvO:R Street Journal
The EvO:R Street Journal
Dedicated to the culture, business and interests of the indie artist.
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Where's our Dylan?
In a new generation, the lack of complex songwriters leaves a void
© Rob Greenfield
May 31, 2007
My generation has lived through the complacent 1990's and the cynical 2000's after September 11th.
But where are the songwriters to articulate our feelings?
There’s a lot of room for concern here. Maybe the old timers are just being cynical, but new music
artists aren’t impressive. They’re actually downright annoying. There are a select few new guys
and girls with the intellectual capacity to write complex music with more substance than your usual
But, looking down the broad highway of American popular music, what is there for people to latch
onto? 50 Cent? All-American Rejects? John Mayer?
A recent cover of Rolling Stone Magazine labeled John Mayer a ‘guitar hero’. Yikes. Mayer, who
has penned ballads such as “Daughters” and “Waitin’ on the World,” is quite the pop star but
not quite the Eric Clapton of the new generation. Surely there are guys out there who can rip
it up better than Mayer.
But that’s just the beginning of the new crimes.
I am 21 years old and a senior at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. My parents and
my friends’ parents talk about Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen
and others who crystallized some sort of national consensus with their music. Dylan, perhaps,
is best known for his articulation of the struggles of the Baby-Boomer generation with songs
such as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “The Times They are a Changin’”. The Beatles provided the
basis for the concept album with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” in 1967, which spoke
to the psychedelic, drug-using side of the 1960’s with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
The Stones are not known for lyrics that speak to the times, but they contributed to the same
effort with “Gimme Shelter.” Springsteen came later (and that was unfortunate for him considering
that the 1970’s and 80’s were a time of political indifference among citizens in the United
States. Springsteen, however, found something to attach himself to in 1984 when he wrote “Born
in the USA,” a rebellious number that told the story of a veteran of the Vietnam War who had
lost his job upon his return to the U.S., and whose government had deserted him.
A tribute to Springsteen’s long tenure as a powerful songwriter, he wrote about the events of
September 11th in his album “The Rising.” The album was hailed as a respectful and fitful tribute
to the lost firefighters and innocent Americans in the two towers.
So where are this generation’s songwriters that can speak to our experience as young men and
women growing up in the nihilistic political climate of 1990’s America and moving into the
cynicism and mistrust of government of the 2000’s?
I have not encountered a mature and intelligent voice that has accomplished that feat. I am
waiting patiently for our Dylan, our Springsteen, to emerge.
ESJ is looking for writers/poets for our next issues.
All work is appreciated and will be published (with the exception
of articles containing racism, bigotry or other demeaning topics)
Also, this is a PG-13 rating and will be censored if you do not edit
it. Please e-mail The EvO:R Street Journal.