After listening to a compilation of songs from Bob Dylan's first two albums - and having already felt unimpressed with the current state of popular music - I'm beginning to understand something: They just don't make music like they used to.
Granted, many of the songs on the compilation probably never topped a Billboard Top 20 list, but many of Dylan's songs did. "The Times The Are A-Changin'" is one good example.
Music on the radio these days has a whole bunch of sound, but little substance. It's pleasing to the ears but it doesn't rouse emotion of any kind, not in the way music is capable of.
And no one is rising out of the fray, ready to take on the problems inherent in society today. There are no young Bob Segers singing ballads of the everyday man.
Who is the musical voice of my generation? Lady Gaga?
Who out there is expressing what life is really like for a 20-something American living in 2012? Justin Bieber? I don't think so.
To find that kind of music - the kind that gives you chills or makes you feel more than just an urge to tap your foot to a beat - you have to go back almost 50 years.
The 1960s in this country were revolutionary. It was a contentious time, when the integration of all-white schools brought out angry mobs of parents, who thought little of pelting young black kids with degrading insults as they walked to class. It was a time that saw hundreds of people taking to the streets, fighting each other over whether white and black people could drink out of the same water fountain, sit next to each other on a public bus, eat from the same lunch counter.
And it was a time when musicians of the day took these societal problems and put them to music, Dylan probably being the most recognizable of those.
But people who have never listened to Dylan in their lives can still rattle off a list of songs from that decade that tell the tales of the country's confusion and seemingly perpetual state of turmoil during the '60s. Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," and Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" are three great examples of big hits that had nothing to do with some party the singer went to last night.
The only successful modern "anti-establishment" band who springs to mind is Green Day, and really, who wants Green Day to be at the top of that list?
Music is one of the most accessible ways for young people to express their ideologies and thoughts on how to better their world. It's also one of the best ways to reach a wide audience.
Maybe not everyone agreed with Dylan's "Masters of War," but they had all heard "Blowin' in the Wind," and they all knew exactly what he was talking about.
The same can not be said of Nicki Minaj, or Katy Perry.
This country is still in tumultuous times. We need someone to help carry the torch of Dylan and Lennon and their fellow musical revolutionaries. We need someone who isn't afraid to write what they feel. And we need record labels who'll sign them and radio stations that'll play them.
We need music that makes us think first and dance later, instead of music that doesn't make us think at all.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Marquette resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.