FoHDiary Day 13: Musical Freedom
It’s my final full day in America. It sounds trite but I came here looking for some kind of answers to the concepts I’m playing with for this project, but I feel like I’m leaving with even more questions than I came with. I suppose the problem with this kind of ethnography, or any kind of ethnography for that matter, is that as an outsider you can’t ever really understand the internal dimensions of things. I’ve been greeted with open arms and enthusiasm by everyone I’ve spoken to and spent time with. But in a scene and a country so divided, the views expressed by my participants mirror that fractured distribution.
But I am hopeful. Some of these blogs have had a sombre tone to them, but that’s only my brain spinning and trying to be serious about something I believe is valuable and important (Plus I have a tendency towards melancholia even at the best of times). As I said I am hopeful. It’s going to take something to reunite and rejuvenate the scene, and give the music purpose again. At the moment it just feel like music. It’s not music for the common good or helping those who originally made disco a thing and needed it. However, given that house is generally left leaning as a scene, the forces that are now aligning themselves against free expression and liberalism (read republican control of both houses and Trump) it might be time for such a renaissance to announce itself. Maybe, now more than in a long time, we need that freedom and unity that’s so present in disco and house. We need a focal point for collective worship that isn’t someone telling you “pray the gay away”, that isn’t the monument of American democracy that’s slowly crumbling to dust with the electoral college system, that isn’t venerating the almighty dollar. We need to get in touch with the utopian spirit that Kevin Hedge was talking about when we spoke earlier today.
I suppose in America the notion of freedom is everything. That freedom manifests itself within the music. It’s music for emancipation (racial, sexual, class-wise), and it’s music for each of us collectively and individually. I’m actually getting choked up as I write this. I do honestly believe there’s something in this music that’s been lost or forgotten. Something that’s important about who we want to be. The idea of finding yourself in music may sound cliché but those clichés exist for a reason! We need to cherish and nurture the echoes of the idea of what disco and house was, what it is, and be hopeful about the potential the music contains for cutting across those divides and segregator lines.
I know I haven’t written much about religion during these blogs but I’ve found that the stuff I’m investigating, while important and the body of the work for this paper, isn’t the stuff that’s going to help me understand the thing. I’ve got a picture in my mind of the argument, and have great material to start backing up my conjecture. But, it’s all useless without appropriately contextualising the scene. The interviews, the mapping, the photography, the stories; all useless without content. That’s what I’ve got from the past two weeks.