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The Unbearable Finite Genius

Take a Look at Bruce Springsteen: from his first album till his seventh he is on a steady trajectory that plateaus with Darkness On The Edge of Town and slackens with the over long The River but remains steady through Tunnel of Love and the first two solo albums. But The River was a bridge too far and ever since then he has gotten steadily worse. By the time we reach Wrecking Ball and High Hopes it is over. The years have left him in a state of decay and his skillset isn’t what it was. Bruce Springsteen, that was.

How about Taylor Swift? Just about flawless through Red, ever since then she has gotten worse and worse, 1989 sinks in the middle, reputation doesn’t get that far. And the Dessner influenced mid-pandemic albums were a complete weakening and slackening of the skillset. Similar with the National -after 2013’s brilliant Trouble Will Find Me (with personal best “Don’t Swallow The Cap”) everything was overwrought clever clogs Americana.

My point isn’t how good or otherwise any of these guys are,my point is careers have trajectories and they are infinitely finite. They stop getting better and get worse. BB King rambling and lost on stage, Bobby Womack being lead to the stage on one hand, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Jay Z, on the other and on they peak and then fall apart.

I don’t mean they die (though that is one form of decay uber alles), I mean they seriously falter. This is true of everything. My Uncle was a major leader of the Arab street in Manchester in the 70s, 80s, 90s, but the last time I saw him he was in a home for the aged, where he died. That peaking, how you are forgotten, is a devastating snapback.

We seem to believe life is a positive experience but is it really? You go steadily up and then steadily down in a world of extreme anxiety. Being alive is one long disaster ending with the loss of everything and everyone. When you die the world turns out the lights. When you release the best album of your career, the end is near.

A career in pop music is an extended metaphor for your life; you have no idea what happens next but you know it won’t be pleasant.

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