Friday, May 1, 2015

Quotation of the Day

[I]t is highly unlikely that...romantic love songs...will ever again attain anything remotely approaching the cultural primacy that they long occupied. One cannot make art about that which one cannot imagine, and now that nearly 70 percent of all children born to high school–only graduates grow up in single-parent families, it is improbable that the children of those families would feel inspired to sing songs that take an idealistic view of love. In much of America, love and marriage are a dream, not a reality, and our popular music will surely reflect that fateful transformation for a long time to come. - Terry Teachout

Love Songs, RIP

This represents a conservative point of view, but a reasonably persuasive one. Maybe there will be a surge in gay and lesbian love songs? - Because if anyone is serious about marriage right now, it's surely not conservatives and Christians, it's gays and lesbians. There are unexplored lyrical possibilities here.

Teachout doesn't really get into why marriage has been on such a decline, but it has a lot to do with a lack of economic confidence. People who don't feel good about the future are not as likely to feel inclined to marry. Of course, it is "conservative" economics that put us in that place, so to avoid cognitive dissonance, conservative writers are apt to insist that the loss of traditions that they value is mostly attributable to a change in values. I don't think that's right. Values are in there but I think it is mostly economics.

Terry Teachout doesn't explore that reality in this essay, although he edges up to it:

...while college-educated millennials who marry take a relatively conventional view of how best to rear the children of their union, this view is no longer widely shared further down the socioeconomic ladder, where single parenting is the new norm.

Well, sure. College-educated millennials have better prospects. Isn't it obvious? Americans used to be able to own a house, a car, and raise children on a lower-middle-class salary. Now they can't.

The only thing that surprises me is that there aren't more pop songs about economic stress, as there were in the 1930s. Cuing Dick Robertson:

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