Music Knows No Borders
    • FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017

    • Posted by: Matt Guyotte

    People from 206 countries and territories read Baeble last month - that's including the countries that Donald Trump banned. A person from Japan can be listening to the same Charli XCX song as somebody from London; and a person in South Africa can get down to John Lennon's "Imagine" just like an angsty suburban 15 year old in Missouri can. Despite everything that is going on in our country right now, with our president trying to build walls around the whole country and trying to demonize Muslim people, it's comforting to know that no walls can be put around music. It might just be the thing that saves us.

    Consider Toby Keith. This is somebody who played at Trump's inauguration and was fully on board with "Make America Great Again." So with all this USA nationalistic pride he's got going on, one would think that his listeners would be exclusively from the United States. According to current streaming data from Spotify though, it turns out that the 3rd place with the most number of listeners for Keith is Norway. So, make America and Norway great again, I guess?

    He also received awards in 2012 from the British Country Musical Association for INTERNATIONAL Act of the Year. So yes, even the genre that heavily popular in the south is still connected to the outside world. It's not like Toby Keith is going to say, "No, I do not want to accept this award because I don't want the love, admiration, and money of my international fans." The U.S., or any musician, is not in a position to ignore the world anymore. We've built our whole culture on communicating with other countries.

    Donny wants to build a wall, but it's a little too late for that now. With the internet and the growing online culture that we live in, we don't have to be physically in front of somebody in order to talk with them, or even to work for them. A physical barrier is nothing short of annoyance in a place that is turning less and less physical. An annoyance that wastes money that could be spent on connecting people. Or even better, funding art and music programs so our ideas can continue to expressed artistically all over the world; because music is something that can't be stopped. You can't build a cyber wall (or at least we hope not).

    As of right now, we could pull up music from any of those "Muslim" countries he's refusing refugees from and develop a better understanding of their culture, because for any piece of music a musician creates, it is influenced in one way or another by the culture that they live in. That's why U.S. pop music is going to sound worlds different from Iranian pop music, because we're coming totally different worlds.

    On the other side of this though, that also means that through music, countries can bridge those worlds. Consider the Toby Keith and Norway example. Both the U.S. and Norway have an isolationist faction within their culture, and Norway especially, living with the same way of life for hundreds of years. So there's this sense of history that both sides want to uphold. For Trump supporters, it's "Make America Great Again," and for people in Norway, it's upholding their isolated way of life. And despite what you may feel about isolationism, this means that that both the U.S. and Norway share that connection. That connection through music.

    Even within our own country, with its hundreds of different nationalities and ways of life, music helps connect us. Consider Kendrick Lamar's good kid madd city - along with being an amazing album, it also exposes what it is like to grow up in Compton during Kendrick's time. The Gangsta Rap movement of the late 80s and early 90s did the same exact thing, with artists like N.W.A., Ice Cube, and 2Pac bringing us into their world. This is a beautiful thing, because it allows us to feel sympathy for people who are in situations that we don't experience, because even if we can't relate, "I didn't have to use my A.K. / I gotta say it was a good day," or "Step on his neck as hard as your bullet proof vest," we can still hear the music. And you can hear the emotion that's being portrayed through the both the songs just referenced.

    Music is a universal language. Regardless of whatever happens to the world in the next four years, or the next four decades, music will always continue to be a force of connection and sympathy, in a way that all of us can understand. So while we may only be able to read and speak one language, or even if we can;t understand the lyrics in a song, we will be able to understand the music. And it's stuff like that that may actually get us to world peace, just through the sheer act of music helping us understand each other's humanity.

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