Monday, March 16, 2020

Of Covid-19, China, Europe, U.S. & Pop Music Decadence


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25 COMMENTS, CHATS


My blog is not a political boxing ring and never will be but when a good friend writes so convincingly to defend a strong belief, which includes music artistes from the 60's and 70's, I have no option but to publish this very short paper, with the writer's permission of course. Andy.

When A Civilisation Declines Everything Declines

This Covid-19 has revealed how efficient China has become and conversely how lax and inefficient the West has become. The Westerners are now at the final stage of  their decline - same as Rome was around the 4th Century when St Augustine was bishop in a town in North Africa. 


What a pity. They are losing their influence, power and culture, everything European. Pity, their music is so rich and beautiful (not American music, especially their pop songs and dance by people like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and others).  Our descendants may not be able to appreciate the classical music that we are privileged to enjoy.

Andy, I am not condemning all things American or all their music and dances. Some of them are just plain vulgar. I mean just listen to the music of the last few decades.  There were many artistes, composers especially in the first half of the last century - composers like Romberg, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lowe and Lerner, etc.

If I have written biased, sweeping statements that offended you or are contradictory to your favourite singers, music, please accept my apologies. When a civilization declines everything declines.  This is my first and last experience of witnessing the signs of a decadent civilization.  

I remember you once told me that America is 'plastic' while Europe is not. You were so right. In the last century America made so much progress in science and technology and medicine. However many of the people who made this possible were Jews and Europeans. The great Irvin Berlin was a Russian immigrant. Romberg studied music in Vienna and was from there. 

Sometimes I think that if I had been educated and raised in China I would have had learnt and be able to appreciate Chinese poetry, music. But I might not have become Catholic - the most important thing in my life.  Of course I would have suffered terribly the evils of communism under Mao and the terrible Cultural Revolution.  Sadly, China will one day also decline like the West but unlike the West the Chinese civilization has remained intact after going though so many dynasties and systems of government.

My mentor, a French priest who spent 18 years in China, told me that it was the family that helped the Chinese to remain intact. In the midst of the present prosperity, I don't know whether they can preserve the family as Confucius so wisely taught the Chinese to preserve because if the family is destroyed the civilization will be destroyed. This has happened in the West.

The Catholic church has taught the same thing. Although many Catholics divorced, the Church has stood firm on the indissolubility of marriage. I think it's very wise. This is God's law, not a man-made law.

Sorry for boring you. Thanks for reading the rambling of an old man, Andy.


We welcome comments from readers.

(The writer wishes to remain anonymous but I'd like to thank the person for  views and ideals presented so truthfully and sincerely.)

Images: Google (1/2) China/US flags (3) Bernhard Romberg (4) Michael Jackson; (5) Confucius (6) Irving Berlin. 

26 comments:

ANONYMOUS said...

I too feel Trump's America is in decline.
You only need to shout that you need to be great again when you know you lack greatness.
Likewise, to put it simplistically, Hitler's Germany started WW2 to make the country great again.

Unknown said...

Dear Sirs,
Firstly 'China is not in' with World standards of Environmental Health and Hygiene, and has been in the hotbed of frequently creating viruses. One cannot call this efficient - the lost and cost of many peoples' lives. Many in other parts of China hadn't even known of Corona-virus until it began affecting other regions of the country. I have China friends who denied there was even any problems until the epidemic and news swept through the country. China controls what they want its people and the world to know.

Secondly Western entertainment culture, and the Catholic Church, or even Confucius has nothing to do with the devastating Corvid-19 pandemic affecting the World right now. China's own medical scientists had earlier traced and admitted the virus came from bats sold at Wuhan markets. Many video clips and Jpeg images of bat infestations taken by their locals proved this as it next flooded social media around the world.

Thirdly, Corvid-19 rapidly and most unfortunately has poisoned the world. How each country handles these problems depends on their own resilience and survival instincts. Anyway Western entertainment culture, and the Catholic Church, and even Confucius will live on as more China viruses infect the world! Amen.

Vernon Cornelius - Singapore

JT CHEN said...

At first flush, I am a bit bewildered by the disparate parts of the dissertation. It attempts to cover so much that it is spread rather thin.

First, it attempts to link a topical issue with a decline of western power and the ascendancy of the east.

The treatment for each part is too touch and go. I cannot begin to make any comment on the decline of western power and culture on the basis of change from classical music to latter day American music because I do not know enough of them.

What I can say is, one is the old world classical and modern day popular music. I don't see that as a decline. I suspect the author of the piece is very much into the classical.

As for China, it was a curious perfunctory treatment of the Chinese culture centering around Confucius. One would expect China's ascendancy to be tied to its economic and technical development.

Musically, I cannot say much about the rest of China (which has it provincial perculiarities) apart from Shanghai and Hong Kong.

JERRY FERNANDEZ said...

Hi Andy,

I grew up with pop music better to be known as THE BRITISH POP INVASION. Enjoyed it without any doubt. The American music got into me with great influence of Black Soul Music... this influence came during the Vietnam War and spread of American music (American Top 40) DJ K.C. KASEM. To me music was only from the British and American u can't deny (my opinion and I stand by it).

Politics is dirty all over the world; every leader on the top got their own agendas. People suffer due to the greedy, power crazy. Do they have any conscience or guilt... COVID-19 ???

But music will heal your soul and it draws no boundaries nor reservations. Beautiful world yet so sad...

EDDIE ENG said...

A historical analysis on the collapse of civilizations would reveal some of the common factors touched by the writer: pandemic diseases, inefficient government, loss of global influence and breakdown of social order caused by disparity of wealth.

Collapse of western civilisation is not inevitable though. The engines of economic growth combined with the resilience of its people will prevent such an outcome.

China, in its ancient wisdom, has been using the family unit as a stabilizing mechanism through its social mechanism through its social upheavals. Both civilisations are unlikely to come to a dramatic end.

MICHAEL BANGAR (PROFESSIONAL GUITARIST0 said...

Andy,
A great article written by your anonymous friend.
Communism did China good.
It got them all united.
I salute China for making a lot of stuff affordable for the man in the street.
The more reason for America to be afraid at the rate China is progressing.
GREED, brother.

MICHAEL LEE (SYDNEY AUSTRALIA) said...

Hi Andy, empires and civilisations rise and fall through the centuries. Families are the nucleus that hold civilisation together. Just like molecules, remove one element and it will disintegrate. I will state this again. There are many intelligent and knowledgeable people but sadly not very wise ones. Cheerio

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Michael, You round up the topic so easily and I think your theory connects all the points together.

MICHAEL LEE (SYDNEY AUSTRALIA) said...

Hi Andy, thanks for your agreeing. I am just a simple crazy eccentric certified idiot who is a crazy Santa, neither a Santa Claus nor a saint.

FREDA HANUM (TEEPEES KEYBOARDIST) said...

Yes it is very interesting, I believe there's some truth in it.

STEPHEN HAN said...

Not all American music and musicians have gone bad.The country musics are still a delight to listen .

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes thank you Stephen, that's why I decided to post the article. I thought the writer, who is a good friend, has not been fair with his remarks that western pop music is decadent and that Presley and Jackson dances are vulgar.

But we respect the person's ideals.

I must thank everyone who gave robust defences and thought provoking replies.
Good time to chat at home with friends who share similar likes or dislikes about pop music.
Takes our minds off the corona horror for a while.

Chris said...

I'm not sure about various arguments here. But Western pop music, for what it's worth, is still one of the most powerful forms of connecting with people. Whether or not it's a signal of the decline of Western civilisation is arguable, but music, while being a powerful language has hardly ever toppled governments or monarchies (both East and West), so that correlation I think, is erroneous.
I can't comment on spiritualism, per se (is there only one god, many gods?) but organised religion is a human construct based on spiritualism. Humans have been abuse their positions within this organisations, IMO, whether it's using religion as an excuse to start conflicts (from the Crusades through to terrorist attacks) or simply getting something out of our societal structures (organised religions do not require to pay tax, for example).
That said, everyone has their own view. It's not good or bad - as right or wrong is basically dependent on a majority or populist agreement. Eg, if many people like an idea it's "good". If many people hate an idea it's "bad". That's why there are as many supporters of dictators as they are dissidents.
But that's just my opinion.

JIMMY APPUDURAI CHUA (RENOWNED GUITAR SOLOIST) said...

Dearest Andy.

I read the article, and have to disagree with the writer.. for many reasons. From my mother's time to now.. Western music was a blessing. It evolved through decades.. I was exposed to jo Stafford , bing Crosby, fats domino, les paul and mary Ford, Dean martin and Frank Sinatra. Then. Marty robbins, elvis and Ricky Nelson, lesley Gore Canadian singer Linda Scott, Nat kingCole. The Platters so many great.

Then came the British invasion artistes the Shadows , cliff, pace makers. Freddie and the dreamers and of course, the stones and the BEATLES.? WOW WOW. I loved al the changes. I loved everything that was thrown at me.. Then came soul music otis redding and Arthur conley, Aretha Franklin.. Even more new music.. I was drawn to all the evolution.. It kept coming. Suddenly, o ead researching about thr blues. Songs the stones. Yardbirds were playing.

I noticed names like chuck Berry, howlin wolf, sonny boy etc. British blurs like akexis Korner , john Mayall, Peter green, Eric Clapton... I bought a bunch of chess records, because my friend, Eric tan ( "bassist of the trailers) was working in cosdel tipped me off. Saying it may not be distributed in Singapore. I bought the lot. THAT was my beginning to my love for the blues.. No. Decadent.., Never,???. It was an ear opener. And still evergreen.. I am beginning to love the Platters again.. MUSIC is LOVE AND PEACE..,

thanks for letting me post Andy. From my heart. My respect got Vernon, Paul Cheong, Gail Chin, Mike Ellery and of course Brian Richmond who championed these artists. and to my surprise, in the 80s,, even classical lover, Mildred Appaduray, from Radio Singapore, did a recording of the Straydogs blues band.. Uncanny but true.

Much love Jimmy Appudurai.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Wow Jimmy. That's a whopper. I shall put your comment up as a single posting on the blog. It's an honour to have someone like you write it. Again many thanks. I know the lock-down in England has made you produce such a literary gem. :-)

You truly let your fingers do the talking Jimmy. They tickle guitar strings and many women's hearts too I think, and your articulation on document is vibrant and informative. KAMSIAH, AH HIAH.

JIMMY APPUDURAI CHUA said...

Thanks Andy,

like I said, i am very impulsive when I read the article, properly,, (i respect his right to speak his mind) but had to agree to disagree...

Yes self imposed isolation for a few months.


stay safe dear friend xxxxx

MICHAEL LEE (SYDNEY AUSTRALIA) said...

Hi Andy,

Agree with Jimmy.
That is why I didn't mention anything about music.
To me music whether East, West, North Pole or South Pole, they are never bad.
Although I have a handwriting that is very bad, God gave me talents with and excellent brain and I use it the best I can.
Cheerio

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...


I'd like to thank CHRIS for his reply.
Yes, it's just a matter of opinion.
And ironically, that's where the trouble starts.
Unless one has reasons - with statistics in hand - the 'analysis' by ANON is just a surmise.

Again, thanks Chris for the time you take; I know you're a busy man.

(CHRIS is a journalist by profession and has been writing about pop music for some years.)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I'd like to thank the following for the WEB-CHAT.
It's been an invigorating post because of the open-mindedness of friends and readers who participated and bare their chests.
We may have differences but... it's all fun and frolic.

Thanks:
VERNON CORNELIUS
JT CHEN
JERRY FERNANDEZ
EDDIE ENG
MICHAEL BANGAR
MICHAEL LEE
FREDA HANUM
STEPHEN HAN
CHRISTOPHER TOH
JIMMY APPUDURAI-CHUA
ANONYMOUS

and those at the side-lines, thanks:
ANDREW TAN
WINSTON KOH
YEN CHOW

All thanks to my good friend who wrote
the article: ANONYMOUS

ROBERT from D'AQUARIANS (60s band) said...

Couldn't agree more with the writer's view as I feel the current trend and songs are based on frustration and hate unlike the past which are based on love and their lifestyle whether good or bad.

The country/western pieces are a good example of this.

Regards.

(Robert's band is now called D'ERA)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Robert.
You are one of very few who agree with ANON.
Honestly?
I must agree with you where today's songs are concerned.
Songs today are an endless frustration of "I'm RIGHT."
Yes, but no one says, I'm also RESPONSIBLE.
Cheers.

MICHAEL LEE (SYDNEY AUSTRALIA) said...

Hi Andy,

There definitely are evil and bad songs and music. In my opinion however, songs based on frustration and hate in itself is a mirage our problems times today.

Cheerio

FREDA HANUM (TEEPEES KEYBOARDIST) said...

Thank you for introducing your wonderful blog

Lam Chun See said...

Agree that family is important because it is the foundation of society. Breakdown of such a fundamental institution is bound to affect society. Glad that this is recognized by our leaders here in Spore.

mattjsltan said...

MUSICIANS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SOCIAL COMMENT-ARRIORS ..(jesus christ superstar, hair, west side story,
porgy & bess, ) are outstanding examples of the fabric of our innovators of music.
not everyone of us are satisfied in just being the white bread and fast food menu of the gentiles..
the mainstream the status quo the sheep the consumer of the opiate for the masses.
do not judge American music by what you hear or read on radio tv tabloids ,etc..
those are the opiate to the masses..
although millions eat at the foodcourt and fast food donut shop..
we are not the music of america anymore than your face and flesh is your backbone.

i recommend you check out the musical influences i listed on my fandalism official page
... to say American music is rich as its architecture or sports..
it consists of great works by not only christians, but muslims and jews, pantheist like myself,
and athiest,..alike.

lastly, even the hatred and anger.. i presume you refer to rap music..
is mostly social commentaries like the music of chicago the most popular rock jazz band
..although the masses weaned on radio and music tabloids are just exposed to their blatant
sweet lovey dovey formula stuff that top the charts of billboard 100

..that is not representative of true american music.
.. anymore than hamburgers and coca cola and french fries is something a chef in a 5 star hotel
or cordon bleu restaurant would serve you. in fact, chefs have been known to spit out
that hamburger the masses made popular.

Anonymous said...

Hello Vernon. Are you from Frankel Estate? I used to live in Frankel Avenue! Robert Gay.