Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Is the whole idea misleading?

Although I can understand the recent list of 50 greatest Australian albums of all time, I have in recent years as a student felt the idea to be misleading.

This is because, though most Australians would wish to dispute this, distinctively Australian music is very difficult to produce. Not only is Australia's culture, as Jared Diamond points out elegantly, entirely alien and un-adapted to its environment, Australia's monopoly on the essential resources of industrial economies provides such abundance as to create a culture where it is easy to become adequately wealthy without either saving money or receiving welfare.

Such a comfortable culture simply cannot produce memorable works of art: Australia's few internationally famous works of art relate to life in the harsh outback as graziers - which is irrelevant to a postindustrial age and fails to reflect the prosperity brought about by the extraordinary efficiency of Australian farming due to the huge size of its farms on flat terrain.

Australian musicians wishing to produce something unmade for commercial radio have generally had to relocate abroad (back to their own homeland?!). Outside inner city areas there has never been demand for non-middle-of-the-road music, since the romantic, upbeat messages provided thereby fit the relaxed and fortunate lifestyle enjoyed by people with an abundance of wealth and land not seen in any other era or place.

This makes me feel that Australian albums - unless of indigenous music - cannot sincerely be thus called. Most of the major musicians who produce them - as with all of AC/DC bar Phil Rudd - were foreigners by birth anyway.

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