Suspected as much

Did it ever occur to you that ever since (roughly) the Rolling Stones, lots of contemporary mass-market music has been just deliberately ugly, with the singing in particular something you’d be embarrassed to do in the shower? You and me both. If you’re like me, you felt a little tentative about that perception; maybe the stuff really was beautiful in some way you and I were too old-fashioned to hear? Guess not:

Nowadays people don’t want you to sing good. They want you to sing sloppy and have a good beat to your songs. That’s what angle I’m going to shoot for. That’s where the money is. So just in case about three or four months from now you might hear a record by me that sounds terrible, don’t feel ashamed, just wait until the money rolls in because every day people are singing worse and worse on purpose and the public buys more and more records.

— A letter from Jimi Hendrix to his father, reprinted in today’s New York Times Magazine, p. 25.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com