I just came across this Onion AV Club essay by Marah Eakin about the TV show The Adventures of Pete and Pete. There's a couple of lines I'd like to highlight:
"[Nostalgia] puts this hazy veil over everything in the past, and all the time we spend thinking about those things, we're not making new things, pushing art and culture forward."
"Watching old DVDs to try and recapture the feeling you once had the first time you saw something might be fun, but it can be a little pointless, too... Pete’s lesson—and our lesson—from this show is not just 'find a song and love it,' but rather, 'if you love something, go make something someone else can love.'”
This reminded me so much of a phenomenon in music: the futility and artistic bankruptcy of trying to emulate sincerity and passion simply by copying the style of a musician who had it.
And that's happening in a lot of indie music right now.
With the collapse of the major music industry and the commercial explosion of what I'll loosely call "indie," it's gotten very difficult to tell what is authentic and "real." Consequently, there's an outbreak of musicians who imitate latter day paragons of realness — in particular, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. A little artistic Xeroxing is typical of the nascent artist — look how derivative even the early Stones, Dylan, and Beatles were — but this is something past that.
The imitators are missing the point by a mile. Springsteen and Young (I refuse to call them Bruce and Neil; I don't delude myself that I know them personally just because I think I understand their music) didn't get over because they imitated anybody. They got over because they were being themselves without compromise and they were engaging with the present, not trying to recreate some overly hallowed moment 40 years prior.
Musicians, find your own self. Engage this moment. Because Jimmy Fallon does a better Neil Young impression than you ever will.