I’m reading the Beastie Boys book. Right there, that sentence will divide all those who read this into two camps:
Camp A: Really?! That’s so cool! I want to read that!
Camp B: Ugh. Seriously. You got to fight for your right for good music!
But that doesn’t matter to the point of this, at least not entirely.
In the first chapters of the book, either Michael Diamond or Adam Horovitz (it doesn’t credit who actually wrote what part of the book) talk about the early days of when the Beastie Boys were first coming onto the scene of their musical time. They talk about being on the edge of a great movement in cultural history, where rap and punk and music that didn’t fit into any one category was living and breathing and growing on the streets and burrows of New York City. It wasn’t on mainstream radio play, but it was everywhere as if you walked the blocks of the city and it got stuck on your shoe, and you just kind of left a trail of this musical energy everywhere you went. It was an energy that everyone knew about and no one knew about.
The Beasties talk about the underground hole-in-the-wall New York clubs, with their run-down tiny (or in some cases no) stages, dingy lights, and one toilet unisex bathrooms. They talk about the no-name bands of the time, Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, Blondie, Bad Brains, Human League, etc., who are now household names, but at THAT time were secrets that only flyers stapled to lampposts shared.
It made me jealous to think that Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz got to experience and be a part of a historical movement that would shape and culturally change a conventional medium that had been relatively the same for a very long time. It was the birth of rap from the streets. It was the birth of punk from the underground bar. It was the birth of bands that were not afraid to take 4/4 time signature and mash it with unconventional hooks, riffs, choruses, and bridges. These bands figuratively beat their sounds into the music sheet with a mallet until it fit. These same bands would later be signed to record deals, that in turn would be devoured by all sorts of persons through radio, TV, and battery operated portable devices.
And then it dawned on me that I too was in a great cultural movement. A movement that has been slowly taking the invisible floating airwaves above and around us, and smashing them into the earbuds of anyone who owns any type of device that can pluck the internet from the sky.
This cultural movement is Podcasting.
Now, much like rap and punk and every other type of music that is deemed new and different and exciting, it is in fact just taking something already invented and turning it upside down. Rock and Rap can be boiled down to reinvented Blues, which can be boiled down to sing-song Nursery rhymes, which can be boiled down to Cavemen beating sticks on rocks. I get that I skipped several steps there, but you don’t really need a seventy paragraph music lesson here. So Podcasting is to Talk Radio, is to The Farmers Almanac, is to those same cavemen getting bored of beating rocks with sticks and grunting information to each other on how to hunt, make fire…and maybe even discussing getting new sticks. Those ones they have are getting worn out from all the rock beating.
So much like the Beasties being around all these bands that are going from nothing to everything, I too am around all these Podcasts that are becoming staples and household names in the cultural landscape. There are some big ones that everyone knows such as Serial, WTF, Lore, and Joe Rogan, but there is also about a gazillion smaller shows on any and all subjects you could imagine. You can find Podcasts on your favorite TV show…and, not just one podcast, but hundreds…and even if your favorite TV show only aired three episodes on a network that only lasted 4 months. You could still probably find a podcast dissecting each and every episode. You can find Podcasts that are improv, Podcasts that are scripted, Podcasts that are just two drunk guys talking about the 3rd string Seattle Seahawks players and where their favorite place to eat is and why.
I would not listen to that show, but you might.
What it all comes down to are passions. Microphones and WiFi is cheap enough to share one’s passions. So why not?
And I for one, am loving exploring and hearing things from people putting themselves out there. I feel I am never without entertainment, be it good or bad, in the age where we have taken the radio talk show and turned it upside down.
If you are a Podcaster yourself, I just want to thank you.
Much like the Beastie Boys in their early days, you didn’t know if what you created would resonate with anyone. It’s scary and download numbers are not always accurate. Being in a band you can get that immediate feedback, from concerts and whatnot, unlike a Podcaster who is releasing their voice in a chasm of a million other voices. It’s kind of like being a single red M&M poured into a jar of nothing but red M&Ms, but still trying to be found and enjoyed.
Don’t worry about trying to be found, just enjoy being at the edge of this great movement in cultural history.
Christopher De Voss