I had satellite radio this weekend, traveling in a rental car (the first Subaru with guts, and a 3.6L engine – a metaphor for the post here).
My favourite station, the 1940s. It was guttural, soulful music. It was hard music. It was music that hurt. It had depth and breadth. It had throatiness and breathiness. It had life.
I couldn’t stand the next stations, either the 50s or the 60s or much of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Aside from Motown and Aretha and the lovely accepted soulfulness of the age – which had been hidden in racist oblivion for far too long, had had its opportunity lost during times of hate – this post-soulful music of Billie Holiday and Etta James, Duke Ellington and Robert Johnson was soft, bubble pop. It was happy, blissful; it was without substance, worth, life.
Life is not suffering, as Buddha says. But life devoid of suffering is impossible. Life devoid of suffering is devoid of everything else too. Devoid of soul and life and love.