Recently, a reporter doing a story on music during hard times asked me if I agreed with the notion that music gets darker and moodier when the economy tanks. I thought of the Great Depression hit, “Brother Can You Spare A Dime,” and all the angry punk rock I saw in the clubs of a much poorer New York back in the 70s – and said no. Because by and large, 30s pop was about keeping on the sunny side, and heading over the rainbow, and other keep-your-chin-up types of song. And while punk and hip-hop were bubbling beneath the surface of the turbulent 70s, pop music, especially disco, glided over it, telling us to boogie down and reminding us that we should be dancing. It’s almost like the music industry’s self-preservation instincts go into overdrive during tough economic times. “Things are bad – here’s a song that’ll make you feel better. That’ll be 99 cents please.”
If we are headed for a recession, or some other form of financial meltdown, it’ll at least be interesting to hear how the music business reacts. Because hard times DO produce darker and moodier music – just not right away. And usually not where everyone can see it.
Tell us: Do you believe that music changes with major swings in the economy? When things are tough, do you prefer it be escapist or do you want to hear dark times reflected in the music?