I sent a copy of the new single "Revolutions" to a musical colleague of mine last week. His critical (and unsolicited, as it usually tends to be) response was that it was "nice, although not so spectacular as the title hints".
Perhaps he has misinterpreted the meaning of the song - it is not titled "Revolutionary". There is quite a difference between the two words. Indeed "revolutions" holds several different interpretations. The sentiment behind the track is referenced in the lyrics --
"Will our history come around again
Another era in a time of men"
Over and over we repeat ourselves. A continuous cycle of cause and effect, invention and reinvention. Conflict and resolve. The cycle gets faster - yet we seem to be further from the epiphany that will set us free.
"Revolutions" is a simple pop song. It does not need to be more than that - and in creating it I certainly did not try to be revolutionary. To set out to do so is almost inevitably to fail musically - I believe it is more important to create something that is emotionally successful than to make it the Next Big Thing. To me the track is everything I intended it to be.
What is revolutionary in music? At a glance we could maintain that the past century has seen more creative revolutions than ever before. Musique concrète. Jazz. Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring". Minimalism. Rock'n'roll, pop, house, punk. Erm - nu rave? Perhaps not.
I feel that there have only been two significant revolutionary moments. Without them the musical world as we know it today would not be the same - and the impact of which will lead us to the next (whenever that might be - in the current musical climate this might not be in our lifetime ...)
John Cage - 4'33" (1952)
By composing a piece where not a single note is actually played, liberating the performer and allowing chance to conduct the experience, Cage brought philosophy to music and pushed the boundaries of what we accept as art. He paved the way for generations of composers who finally had permission to let freedom of sound into their work. Electronic music would not have been the same without him.
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show (1964)
Before appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, The Beatles were relatively unknown in the US. With television becoming a force in mass media, the marriage of rock'n'roll with the excitement of live performance broadcast simultaneously to millions heralded in the British Invasion and the beginning of pop culture as we know it.
Of course there have been other milestones since these two events, and indeed many new forms of popular music - but they all relate back to these important moments. It will take some time to go beyond this - as a musician today, all we can hope for is to add to our collective musical history.