Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Deep End

I’ve been a little unsure as to how to explain this post.

I’ve tried to think of a pithy catchphrase that could sum it up.

But I failed. The closest I’ve come to explaining it, is to say that I’m debunking popular opinion. Or kicking some sacred cows. Or basically admitting that there are some things in music that I just do not get. And I know I’m not alone. I can’t be.

Whether we care to admit it, we’ve all been there. Bought a record that reviews rave about and been left cold. Listened to an album that is constantly name dropped as an influence and been left bewildered. Heard a band so ingrained in popular culture that they’re beyond criticism and felt like an outcast by the musical snobbery. There’s a kind of bullshit mystique built up around certain bands and records, that not liking them makes you something of a leper. An outcast from musical society. Shut out in the cold. The lone voice that dares not speak out in opposition, lest they be lynched.

And it’s not just a case of not liking the music. It’s more than that. I’m sure we can all think of plenty of bands and records we don’t like but which we can appreciate why others would. But there are some records and bands whose elevated status and seemingly untouchable nature is beyond comprehension. It goes beyond merely not liking it to a whole other level. One where not only do you not get it, you can’t understand why others do. Or at least, you can’t comprehend the adoration that surrounds it and you wish someone would sit you down and explain it to you. So you buy it and intermittently return to it. Hoping you’ll suddenly see the light. Waiting for the road to Damascus moment to happen.

Only it never does and halfway through you turn it off, put something else on and file it away back on whichever shelf or box it came from. It’s something similar to that article I mentioned where people were lying about the books they’d read, in order to appear more intelligent. A kind of culture snobbery. One where, such is the myth and status surrounding the record or the band, you feel embarrassed if you have to admit to not liking them. A lesser music fan for not being able to see what the fuss is all about. As though there’s something wrong with you. When really it’s only you that sees the truth. It’s only you who can see past the wall of praise, of legend, of critical acclaim, of groundbreaking innovation and hear the record or band for the middling lump they really are. So I thought I’d offer up a few records and bands whose reputations and critical acclaim simply baffle me.

1. The Basement Tapes by Bob Dylan & The Band. Now I love Dylan and I understand why the mystique of this home recording session arose. But surely the official release would have been completely obliterated that when everyone got to hear what a bunch of half baked, dull tunes these were.

2. Cold Play. Average band makes average record with below average singer. The new stuff is purely manufactured anthem rock.

3. Pink Floyd. Smoke another one. Love Gilmour.

4. Radiohead. I have heard a couple of tunes that I would listen to twice, but not much more. They're so beloved that I have tried repeatedly to listen to the entire catalog.

So there you have it. Feel free to list anything you don’t get in the comments. Or if you feel like it you can attempt to show me the light on any one of those.

Pete is someone whose elevated status I do get - especially live. You have to check this out -

1. Won't Get Fooled Again
2. Second Hand Love
3. Give Blood
4. Behind Blue Eyes
5. After The Fire
6. Slit Skirts
7. Blue Light
8. I Put A Spell On You
9. Hiding Out
10. The Sea Refuses No River
11. Face The Face
12. Interruption)
13. Pinball Wizard
14. A Little Is Enough
15. Rough Boys
16. Nighttrain


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