Ballad of Sisyphus
Sisyphus. He is an interesting story.
See here’s the thing. I don’t like to write. There’s this introduction by Richard Bach on his book “Illusions” – i paraphrase…he talks about how difficult it is to write- how some thing or some idea swells up inside and tortures him up to a point that finally he must commit pen to paper. Well, that’s romanticizing things- but it’s a lovely excuse.
The myth of Sisyphus is pretty cool. Ever since I first read about it, it made sense. As you may or may not know, Sisyphus was punished by the Gods to push a rock up a hill, only to let it roll back down, so that he may push it back up again. Over and over again. For eternity.
This has been a perfect metaphor for the philosophers. Especially for the existentialists. And frankly, what better existential metaphor than this one to clarify that there is no value beyond the process.
Which brings me to the concept of the album. It has raised questions- why? why bother? what is the point? Record companies have shaped it’s existence. But music lovers have created its relevance.
When I grew up loving music and eventually wanted to make music, the album was the representation of everything you could possibly say in a given period of time. It was more than a statement. It was a completion of an idea. It was IT.
But things have changed much. The music business has changed much. And so, I won’t get into why the concept of the album changed so much. That is a whole other argument. And it’s not important for this one.
My argument is that albums are still important. They are still incredibly relevant.
For a musician growing up as I grew up, making the album was the ultimate pushing of the rock up the hill. It was THE GOAL, for bettter or for worse. And it represented something greater than what you were.
It’s different now. Musicians need to keep up with the times. They have to release a single to know there is an audience. They have to create music for the commercial to ensure the product sells. They have to do anything they can to make sure they can earn a living. And that is the paradox.
The gigantic freedom obtained from being released of the clutches of the record companies has resulted in a legitimization of a music industry that has taken us away from why we existed in the first place . And as a result… the rock got a lot bigger.
Having your say is not a given. Reaching your audience is not a given. Making your album is most definitely not a given- It’s expensive and not profitable.
But the thing is, Sisyphus needs a solid rock to push. As human beings, we always need to be connected to bigger concepts, no matter how many boring celebrity news articles we read. You see, Sisyphus doesn’t want a bunch of pebbles. He needs something tangible, concrete- something we can sink our teeth into.
And so albums will live. As will real rocks. No matter the pace or depth of technology. All of this development will negotiate a heck of a lot of how we interact and share information. But it won’t dictate how we truly change. Only the big rocks can do that.