Eddie Vetter of Pearl Jam has said that his music was originally fueled by anger, and that it was challenging for him when that anger went away and was replace by happiness and contentedness. Even the style of his music, itself, was originally a product of the angst and frustrations of a common life. What meaning could it possibly have within the context of overwhelming success and riches?
Did Eddie's success choke his ability to create the kind of meaningful music we knew and loved? Consider his early song Jeremy in relation to the following lyrics from a recent song, Big Wave:
I scream in affirmation
Of connecting dislocations
And exceeding limitation
By achieving levitation
Got me a big wave, ride me a big wave, got me a big wave.
Got me a big wave, ride me a big wave, got me a big wave
OK that's just embarrassing. You have to hear the song, set to the angst-ridden sounds of grunge music (a sound, by the way, that he hasn't bothered to evolve so that it might more accurately reflect his daily reality) in order to get the full picture of how badly this song misses the mark.
We see the same thing happen in Rap music all the time. The art form itself is a reflection of the brutal realities of inner-city life. Throw some money at it and what starts out as meaningful, anger-fueled and angst-ridden lyrics so quickly turn to boasting of cars and brands.
Meaningful art has to arise from the life and experience of the artist. One might expect the successful rocker or rapper to experiment with new, happier or more blissful sounds. But in the case of both the rapper and the grunge-rocker, their style of music cannot be allowed to change so that it might more accurately reflect their new lives. To do so would be to risk losing the very foundation of that success...the support of fans who originally loved them for who they once were.
And so it is, with overwhelming success and subsequent riches, art itself becomes inauthentic crap as the artist becomes a salesmen just trying to continue fueling an excessive lifestyle.