Tangent Sunset

The History of Conscious Music by Alex Cosper

From Activism to Apathy


The idea that radio's role was to entertain and not to educate grew out of the audience research that began to dictate radio programming in the mid-seventies. As a result, the music scene was populated with less and less meaningful songs and more and more calculated formulas that appealed to the lowest common demoninator. One song that cut through the hype with a sharp message was "The Logical Song" by Supertramp in 1979. The song questioned one's identity and whether or not the things we learn in school are useful. A similar theme came out later that year in Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall." It came from their landmark double album soundtrack of the half-animated film The Wall, which dealt more with the state of war and propaganda. Neil Young brought back the idea that rock and roll music, when all is said and done, is a celebration of freedom in his rock radio hit "Rockin' In The Free World." Neil was able to cross barriers between hippies and punks by paying tribute to Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols in "Rust Never Sleeps."

A wedge seemed to be growing between the hippies and the punks, but the true rock fan didn't fall for the gen-x marketing scheme that attempted to create friction between generations just to corner the fashion market. It worked with the hippies versus their elders because of grass roots social changes. But after the sixties, the concept of generation gap was completely contrived by various corporate entities whose leaders misunderstood the counter-culture phenomenon. Consequently, many of the young people who conformed to the supposed non-conformist punk ethic, ended up supporting the exact same ideals of the hippy movement, yet found themselves in opposition of it due to corporate conditioning in music and other products that downplayed message and awareness and focused on mean attitude. Overall, less attention was being paid to lyrics having social relevance in popular music and more attention was being paid to imaging and marketing. The general population fell for it, eating up whatever fabricated trend the music industry offered.

Continue to "Ethic in Transition"