BTQ: Gnarls Barkley?

pelee Says:

On some NPR show today, there was a writer discussing Duke Ellington. There was constant discussion of that music being “symbolic of the time” and the question was raised whether we have music that is as representative these days. They had a music critic on and his strongest suggestion was Gnarls Barkley. I can’t remember the others, but that one stands out.

I believe Frank Sinatra was mentioned as the same sort of icon for his heyday.

I haven’t heard the NPR piece, but I looked for it online. I remember reading Albert Schweitzer’s biography of Bach, and his summation of his music was that he took all the existing forms and styles of music up until that point and worked them out to their logical and complete conclusion, such that the music he borrowed from was rendered superfluous. (I’ll lry and find the exact quote online). I’ve always thought of great musicians in that way since. So Duke Ellington would be one, within his style of music, as is Miles Davis. Jimi Hendrix was another. Who that would be these days I don’t know, because music is so stylistically balkanized that it will be hard for any musician to accomplish the same thing.

I shall ponder the mystery…..


The money quote from Schweitzer:

Bach belongs to the order of objective artists. These are wholly of their own time, and work only with the forms and ideas that their time proffers them…The art of the objective artist is not impersonal, but superpersonal. It is as if he felt only one impulse – to express again what he already finds in existence, but to express it definitively, in unique perfection. It is not he who lives – it is the spirit of the time that lives in him. All the artistic endeavors, desires, creations, aspirations and errors of his own and of previous generations are concentrated and worked out to their conclusion in him.”


3 Responses to “BTQ: Gnarls Barkley?”

  1. Shannon Says:

    Somehow I don’t think that, 300 years from now, people are going to write about Gnarls Barkley that way. At least I hope not.

    I’ll have to put some thought into this one and think of whom I’d categorize this way.

  2. Shannon Says:

    OK, here’s my thought on this one – Beck. I wouldn’t necessarily call him iconic, but I think he fits into the objective artist order. I think you are spot on when you say it’s hard for anyone to be tagged with that these days, because styles are so divisive (yes, I had to look up “balkanized” and I feel better for it), and to have mainstream success, artists pretty much have to contain themselves to a particular box. And people go all ga-ga when a couple of them come out of their boxes and collaborate (ooooh! Kelly Clarkson and Reba McIntire! What a great concept!)

  3. toejam Says:

    In re “symbolic of the time”
    Groundbreaking Icons.

    But who’s to say whose “Time?”

    50’s: Miles, or…Elvis? (or Sinatra?)
    60’s: Dylan, or…The Beatles? (or Sinatra?)
    70’s: Elton John, or…The Sex Pistols? (or Sinatra?)
    80’s: Elvis Costello, or…Bon Jovi?
    90’s: Nirvana, or…Celine?

    But today, I’m out of the loop. Coldplay? Ciara? Jury still out?
    But Gnarls Barkley? Are you “Crazy?”

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