We all want to change the world. Really?

Listening to Solomon Burke this rainy Sunday morning and was thinking while "None of us are free" was playing about how things have changed, at least for me, in my outlook, in my mind. Do you still believe in the power of music, or more particularly, in the power of lyrics in popular song to change the world, or at least put a dent in its miseries? In this bleak neo-conservative landscape where everything is up on the block, seems to me that songs of hope, of freedom, of solidarity are as we say in French "un coup d'épée dans l'eau". Sorry I can't find an English equivalent (try "like thrusting a sword in the water", for want of a better translation). Must be my age, but didn't a lot of people once believe that song did have the power to do it? Now it's either "kill the bitch" type lyrics or else words are mouthed with the simply cynical view of collecting the cash to live where the in-crowd lives, eat where the in-crowd eats and drive what the in-crowd drives. Probably also to listen on the high-end equipment the in-crowd uses to get all the fine inner detail and micro-dynamics of "protest songs". How many people slept in their beat-up cars last night? Better days are coming for sure, the GDP told me so.
As a favorite band of mine used to say, "One way or another, this darkness got to give". Keep the faith brother, I think all things are cyclical, including global politics.
You're right that we have less music (in North America) that directs our attention to the issues. More correctly, we have less popular music that does so -- gee, could that have anything to do with the oligopolies of the airwaves? On the other hand, great artists who tour smaller clubs have a lot to say about the social condition. For example, the extremely talented Matt King sings a refrain of "we're circling the drain" -- reminding us of how many are in exactly that circumstance.

So music remains a balm but popular musicians has lost interest in becoming a prod for social change. Maybe that's why their music's popular -- because people don't want to be reminded that things are not always right and good. Great artists with a message find ways to break through that with their art. There are always great artists among us -- come out, come out, wherever you are!
As sad as the "kill the bitch" mentality is, what's frightening is the "what do we do for an encore?".
The future builds on and tries to outdue the past so where do you go when you're at the bottom of the barrel?
The goons that produce this crap don't worry as they can afford to live in ivory (and ebony) towers complete with bodyguards. The rest of us just hope we don't run into anyone they've "inspired" with their "art".
There; I'm officially a "crabby old man"!
Yeah, well, Elvis, The Beatles, etc., etc., were purported to end civilization as we know it, too. Then again, maybe they did......
Pbb-I think there a number of aspects to what you are asking.
First up I guess it's difficult to do that type of thing and be original-and a lot of the original music still stands up-you could pick several dozen Dylan songs that would still fit a myriad of problems that are in the world today.
Who would want to follow that legacy and hope to even get near doing it as well as he did?
I agree with Ozfly too there is a trend at the moment to be based more in entertainment/escapism-however music follows trends there has been as much pap in the past at different times-I believe at some stage the climate will change.
I think also it's hard to get this type of music right in the modern world-there have been some earnest attempts to make political points or deal with complicated issues-the late 80's is littered with lame nonsense songs that died under the weight of the issues they were trying to deal with-stand up(or preferably sit down and shut up) Simple Minds et al.
In modern terms I guess there are bands who make their points maybe in a less obvious way-Radiohead's recent output has been political albeit disguised at times-I'm sure there are others certainly some have taken stances on political issues like Coldplay and the ubiquitous Bono.
I do think in some ways popular culture has simply run out of idea's and is in something of a dark age but I do believe in the power of music on all different kinds of levels to help at the very least in a minor way.............
C'est la fin de l'innocence, cher Monsieur, ou - plus probablement - la fin des illusions...
From the liner notes of Keith Jarrett/The Survivors' Suite :

"And those that create out of the holocaust of their own inheritance anything more than a convenient self-made tomb shall be known as 'Survivors'."

The revolution will not be televised.