When the Music Stops: Michael Azerrad reviews Simon Reynolds’s Retromania in the Wall Street Journal.
So, I’m reading this review, thinking it’s fine, balanced, all the rest, but then this paragraph jumped out at me:
“Another big thing that Mr. Reynolds is forgetting: 9/11. That happened at the dawn of the 2000s, precisely when he believes pop music really began to atrophy. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the only people sanguine about the future were manufacturers of airport-security equipment.”
What exactly is Azerrad saying here? That following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center musicians were no longer interested in innovation, or in “the future”? Isn’t it supposed to work the other way around — you know the old cliché, hard times beget inspired art? And how long does the “aftermath” of this event last? Is Azerrad suggesting that 9/11 has scarred pop music with a permanent sense of atrophy? I’m asking partly rhetorical and not very useful or intelligent questions here, probably, but there’s something about the 9/11 referencing in that paragraph that really throws me for a loop. It’s so fraught with assumptions — assumptions, above all, about the long term impact of that event — that I just kind of wish an editor had demanded elucidation. I’m not saying Azerrad is wrong in his assumptions, or that 9/11 as a subject should be off limits here — I’ve often been curious myself about the connections that exist, in some form or fashion, between the events of September 11, 2001, and the creation or reception of pop music following that particular day — but in this case it feels like a shortcut to make a point (which is…?), and it feels unsubstantiated, perhaps even specious.