Thursday, January 29, 2004

I just read a restatement of the old saw about rock and roll being dead and thought I'd say a few words regarding the medium.

Basically, it seems obvious that rock has snobs just like every other musical style (I'm thinking particularly of snotty classical and jazz critics, and self-important blues purists [who are very much like boxing enthusiasts of the Mailer/Plimpton ilk in that they weren't ever and ain't ever gonna be one of the ones doing the thing or knowing the feeling]. My own critical threshold is along the lines of Peter Schickle (sp?), who said "If it sounds good, it IS good."

Having said that, I tend to prefer rock that shows 1) dazzling musicianship AND/OR 2) my sort of political content AND/OR 3) impressive lyrical stylings. I rarely listen to anything by anyone who is not either musically or lyrically very talented or at least nice and political. The least important decisive factor for me, interestingly enough, is the politics. I can't swallow Patti Smith, for example, because I just don't like the sound.

There have been a few groups who meet all of my qualifications for goodness/listenability. The Who, The Police, The Clash, Rush, Yes, and Pink Floyd have all wrestled for the top spot over the years. Of these, the Clash were probably the least talented as musicians (although they were very creative), and Yes has the lamest lyrics (while being virtuosos on their axes).

I do like "attitude", of course. That's the thing most often lauded by rock critics, I figure. Apparently "real" rock and roll has a fair degree of "fuck you" (in every sense) as subtext. I can dig it. That's why I like the Sex Pistols. I never liked most other Punk, though. I loathe the Ramones, for example. I never have had much use for Iggy Pop. Black Flag? No thanks. Now Huesker Due? Gimmie some! (musicianship, don'tcha know).

The attitude I most prefer is not of the "fuck you" variety, however. I like "coolness" and understated individuality. Like the Allman Brothers and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Talking Heads. I love Prince in all his manifestations for this reason, as well. I WANT to like the Greatful Dead more than I do, for this reason.

Sometimes I get into stuff that doesn't make much sense to me. I went through a Scorpions phase and I'm not totally over them. I like a good bit of Judas Priest. I also have LOTS of New Wave (more than you'd ever care to hear, in fact). I grew fond of Kiss in my youth, as well, and will defend them if prompted.

This is a meandering post, I realize, and it has no real point. I just wanted to say the stuff and Birgit is asleep.

While blogging this, by the way, I heard "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley, "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, "Clavado En Un Bar" by Mana, "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?)" by Billie Holiday, "Who's Cryin' Now" by Journey, "Wayfairing Stranger" by Emmylou Harris, and "Angel of Harlem" by U2. Go figure!


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