The “youth market” is a businessman’s term which refers to the fact that, if you can find something which will get a lot of kids excised, you can exploit them (and their parents) right into the poorhouse with it. In the process, you will become rich as Croesus, or even Walt Disney. Among the very biggest youth market items, of course, is music. Not just any music, but, today, “message” music—the kind that purports to offer a fresh insight into reality, the kind that is supposed to be relevant to the listener’s life and environment.
It is certain that, the problems of physical security having been largely overcome by their forbears, the newer generations have turned their attention toward other and more introspective matters. How to pay the bills is less of a concern to the young of today than how to be … something, anything, someone, anyone. This is natural. Man is endowed with the intelligence to inquire after Truth Absolute, and as soon as the gross material needs of the body can be taken care of, such inquiry must arise. It must arise, that is, if the human being is to pursue the fulfillment of his own destiny.
What is sad is that the ever-flexible business world has not only rolled with the punch (an inquiry into values must inevitably view exploitative commercialization as a form of insanity), but has actually managed to congeal the amorphous spiritual interests of youth into a “market.” One method by which this is done is through the elevation of a young songwriter/musician/singer (in the manner of Bob Dylan) to the position of demi-prophet for the young masses. Such artists become the idols of youth, worshiped as much for their intellectual abilities as for their good looks or musical excellence. They say a great deal about life and society, and it is all said with the utmost earnestness even when the artist protests too much that he has no message. And it sells records by the billions.
The artists themselves are not exactly frauds, however. They often believe, it seems, in their own messages—which is another tragic aspect of the situation. For we have now hundreds of young creative people who have become “leaders” of society in a very real sense, and who themselves believe in their own rights and abilities to lead. Yet when expressing themselves, it will be seen that few if any of our musical idols have got anything of importance to say. Clothed in new and generally obscure idiom, much that they write merely rehashes the eternal platitudes: love, peace, and in the end a stoical acceptance of death as the inevitable annihilation of self.
How to love, how to obtain peace, any practical program for the spiritual and moral regeneration of a Hollow Man civilization—these things are as lacking from the flashy songs of the new generation singers as they are from the mad acts of sheer destruction fostered by SDS and the black militants on campus. This is because, as we hope the whole world will soon discover, the positive side of life is entirely spiritual, and cannot be found, cannot be approached except through the actions of spiritual existence: devotional service to Krishna, the Supreme Spiritual Godhead.
It is our further hope that those who are serious about the problems (and answers) to life will inquire further into the science of God realization called Krishna Consciousness before taking it upon themselves to preach platitudes which (whatever their sales potential) have no relevance to the actual plight of humanity.