Punk comes out of post-modernism, but it’s real desire is to inhabit modernism in that it says, “Art has meaning and is revolutionary.”
In another one of your interim groups, Felt Letters, you wrote this song about how we’ve been bombarded with music in the digital era. And it’s hilarious. But is it a song of hope or despair?
I grew up in this era where there were institutionalized rockers and all the other groups bubbling up underneath. The narrative presented an ecosystem that made a lot of sense. And one of the positive things that the internet did was demolish that idea.
Now, you can’t make a case for Neil Young being singularly great because it’s been revealed that there were one thousand competitors making plaintive folk-rock who were just as powerful and prolific. Neil Young just had the muscle of Reprise, or whoever, behind him. And Neil Young is great!
Otis Redding is another great example. Atlantic were the hype masters and they controlled the narrative for the white audience of soul music. It was “The Big O!” But now, it’s revealed that there were apparently 500,000 amazing soul singles produced by people that nobody ever heard of. So 600,000 bands on the Internet is what’s always been happening.
When you’re in rock-and-roll, everyone is embittered. “It didn’t turn out how it was supposed to.” Even Pete Townshend is angry because he’s misunderstood. He got to sell 50 million records, or whatever, but nobody gets “Pinball Wizard.” That’s why I collect old 45 singles. When you see all these talented people who had better ideas and were completely ignored, it’s a reality check.
And now, even if you only sell 500 records, that’s actually really great. You should be really glad that anybody cares. The only reward to making a record is making the record, not if some intern writes about it.
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