That's just the issue. The America of Stevie Wonder's "Livin' For The City," Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five's "The Message" and even John Rich's "Shuttin' Detroit Down" (or Kid Rock's "Times Like These," come to that) is the same America of Miley Cyrus' "Party In The U.S.A.," Estelle and Kanye West's "American Boy" and Brad Paisley's "American Saturday Night."
The best both Americans and their music purveyors can hope for is that their view and tastes overlap someone else's just enough to form a Venn diagram. It's why the
U.S. music festival circuit
keeps expanding even as
individual concert ticket sales slump
Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch! and just about every other multi-day, mud-strewn music event have begun pulling in as many indie rock, hip-hop, electronic dance, country, folk, world music and comedy acts as they can pack onto their bill just to draw as much of the music spectrum onto the grounds as possible. By addressing everyone's individual tastes and preferences, they not only insure each individual something they like, but provide some of the few venues where fans can hear what other people are listening to, discover new music and people, exchange ideas and come away richer -- if messier and sleepier -- for the experience.
They aren't the kind of places that lend themselves to all-purpose anthems, but they're places where anthems like Jay-Z's "Hizzo" and The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" break out of their prescribed niches and find broad new followings. They're where American playlists are borne and where a disparate United States, like the banner in its National Anthem, remains surprisingly intact.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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