Neil Young is in a funk. Last week he announced that music can't change the world and we were silly to think it could.
Here's what he said:
"I think that the time when music could change the world is past," he told reporters. "I think it would be very naive to think that in this day and age." Young added: "I think the world today is a different place, and that it's time for science and physics and spirituality to make a difference in this world and to try to save the planet." (from Huffington Post)
Neil, Neil, Neil.
You must be feeling so despondent lately, to abandon all hope of making a difference. OF COURSE music can change the world. It already has. Music is art. Art saves lives.
Where you do think inspiration for advances in science and physics and spirituality comes from? Artists, silly.
Art-- the ability to create -- is the one thing, the ONLY thing that truly separates humans from every other being on this planet. We use tools, other animals use tools. We communicate, other animals communicate. We rear families and build communities and homes, other animals do the same. Sadly, we murder in anger or punishment or fear. Animal behaviorists surprised us with evidence that other animals are just like us. Or we're like them.
Art is the difference between us and the rest of creation. Birds sing, but they can't compose. An elephant with a brush in her truck can smear paint on a canvas, but it's not a deliberate communication.
Art inspires change. Art encourages growth. Art offers a way of communicating when -- or because-- words cannot express our grief or joy or hope or despair.
Sure, the inspiration might be just one person at a time. It might take years. Music and art are not shields to protect us from the horrors of this world, but a way to celebrate the beauty and inspire action to fix what's wrong.
If we give up on the idea that that music or art will not repair what's wrong in this world, then we have lost our world.
It's not naive to think that art will change the world, Neil. It's naive to think we CAN'T.