Skip

P.P.S. (even the black kids didn't dig blues..)
May 25, 2006 3:06 AM   Subscribe

Lennon Letter Sells £12,000. In 1971, a New York Times article accused the Beatles, and other white artists, of imitating and exploiting American black music in their early cover records. Lennon responded angrily, "Many kids were turned on to black music by us. It wasn't a rip off, it was a love-in."
posted by three blind mice (71 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This is good, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:59 AM on May 25, 2006


"How did black performers respond to the "new music" from Great Britain during 1964 and after? The answer is obvious. While most white journalists sang the praises of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other groups from the far side of the Atlantic, black artists recognized them as kindred musical spirits who shared deep respect for songs from the early rhythm 'n' blues tradition. While The Beatles sang the hits of Chuck Berry ("Roll Over Beethoven") and Larry Williams ("Slow Down") and the Stones lauded Slim Harpo ("I'm a Kind Bee") and Marvin Gaye ("Hitch Hike"), American blacks commenced their own restyling of a variety of British song hits. The Beatles provided ample material for Wilson Pickett ("Hey Jude") and Ike and Tina Turner ("Let It Be" and "Get Back"). The Rolling Stones' lyrics also proved appropriate for Muddy Waters ("Let's Spend The Night Together") and Otis Redding ("Satisfaction")."
- from Black musicians as creators and revivalists 1953-1978
posted by madamjujujive at 4:34 AM on May 25, 2006


Interesting signature — "John & Yennon"
Did that start out as an automatic "John and Yoko" or is it a punning comment on his new post-Beatles persona?
posted by MinPin at 4:53 AM on May 25, 2006


I will never understand the whole pop memorabelia market. I can understand someone wanting to own say Lennon's guitar, or some item of great significance, but 12 grand for a letter, which looks like it was scribbled whilst on an aeroplane.

Bizarre!
posted by bap98189 at 5:05 AM on May 25, 2006


That letter is fantastic. Lennon was the John McCain of his day. ;-)

He also pretty much hits the nail on the head in terms of pointing out what was wrong with rock journalism, then and now. These guys continually ascribe motives to artists that they cannot possibly understand. I love how Lennon came out swinging.

Makes me kind of wish that there were music being performed today that is worthy of a defense as passionate as that. Alas, there's not.
posted by psmealey at 5:30 AM on May 25, 2006


That letter is fantastic. Lennon was the John McCain of his day.

Meaning he spent years carefully crafting a media image of himself as a maverick all while supporting the party line on every crucial issue?

thanks for that link, madamjujujive. It's good to have some persepctive other than Amiri Baraka's and Mos Def's (though I think the ideas of both men on the matter have merit.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:46 AM on May 25, 2006


LOL, eustacescrubb. I hadn't considered it from that perspective, but that kind of works, too.
posted by psmealey at 5:58 AM on May 25, 2006


Makes me kind of wish that there were music being performed today that is worthy of a defense as passionate as that. Alas, there's not.

Yes there is.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:08 AM on May 25, 2006


Really? Cool!
posted by psmealey at 8:11 AM on May 25, 2006


The NYT... I see it was a pointless rag then as well.

I dug the Mos Def lyric, I thought a lot of it hit home. But the truth is that every musician is stealing bits and pieces from others. Rock, Soul, R&B are direct decendants of the blues (although it's hard to find any modern artist still willing to embrace that reality). But Blues isn't a "black thing" per say. It grew out of the black experience during and after slavery - "singing the reels" they called it. But the musical structure of blues is a direct descendant of Country. All they did was basically flatten the 3rd, sing those reels and "boom, boom, boom, boom"....you had blues.

It would be cool if more artists embraced blues music. It is so obviously misunderstood - the whole crying in your beer mentality. It's a shame that the black community runs from it like their very existance depends on it. In most cities, the majority of the blues bands are white. They can play it just as well but damn, it's hard to find a white cat that can sing like a brother - and to me, that's what makes the blues so great. The soul in that voice, the heartache and the "real" experiences they've gone through. Good stuff. Good post.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:21 AM on May 25, 2006


This issue would feel somewhat more relevant if black people or white people actually had a new musical innovation in the last 25 years. I have this depressing feeling that my grandkids are going to be listening to the same shit that's on the radio now.
posted by dgaicun at 8:22 AM on May 25, 2006




The "love in" line reads much better and expressively in his handwriting.

Otherwise it's so tacky I thought Paul might've said it.
posted by Peter H at 8:23 AM on May 25, 2006


Just to clarify....the black artists of the day absolutely loved what the English were doing with their music. Sonny Boy, Muddy, Howlin Wolf and so many others were giants in Europe as a result and spoke often of their love for the artists performing their tunes. Hence the quid pro quo madamjujujive mentions.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:25 AM on May 25, 2006


"This issue would feel somewhat more relevant if black people or white people actually had a new musical innovation in the last 25 years."

um...rap....um....grunge....um, shall I go on?
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:28 AM on May 25, 2006


Stones lauded Slim Harpo ("I'm a Kind Bee")

Ha, isn't that "I'm a KING Bee"? (not a snark on mmjjv, but at the article writer which has the typo in the article linked itself - what a way to deflate a line!)

Buzzzin aroun' yo hiive.
posted by Peter H at 8:30 AM on May 25, 2006


Otherwise it's so tacky I thought Paul might've said it.

"Love-in" was a pretty cool/hip term back in 1971, the era of the "be-in," the "bed-in," and the "[insert word here]-in." Only in retrospect does it seem tacky.
posted by blucevalo at 8:33 AM on May 25, 2006


(laughs) noted. Also noted that you chose to defend the line and not McCartney!
posted by Peter H at 8:35 AM on May 25, 2006


My partner and I were out at an after hours this weekend, chatting with a large group of people about music. Somehow, the Beatles came up, and the conversation stalled. "Who are the Beatles?" someone asked. "That the band Paul McCartney used to be in with some other guys", someone finally answered.

"Who's Paul McCartney?"

Ah, time as they say, waits for no one.
posted by slatternus at 8:38 AM on May 25, 2006


I think that if white people are going to burn down black churches, then black people oughta burn down the House of Blues. What a fucking disgrace that place is. 'The House of Blues', they oughta call it the house of lame white motherfuckers. Inauthentic, low-frequency, single-digit, lame white motherfuckers. Especially these male movie stars who think they're blues artists. Have you ever see these guys? Don't you just wanna puke in your suit when one of these fat, balding, overweight, over-aged, out-of-shape, middleaged male movie stars with sunglasses jumps onstage and starts blowing into a harmonica? It's a fucking sacrelidge. In the first place, white people got no business playing the blues, ever. At all. Under any circumstances, ever, ever, ever. What the fuck do white people have to be blue about? Banana Republic ran out of Khakis? The espresso machine is jammed? Hootie and the Blowfish are breaking up?!? White people oughta understand their job is to give people the blues not to get them. And certianly not to sing or play them. I'll tell you a little secret about the blues, it's not enough to know which notes to play, you gotta know why they need to be played.
-George Carlin, 1999
posted by airguitar at 8:49 AM on May 25, 2006


(airguitar - three words for you:

Stevie

Ray

Vaughn

)
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:59 AM on May 25, 2006


I like that this is on airline stationery. I seem to recall a letter from Elvis to Nixon that was on airplane stationery as well, and it was also pretty awesome.

Why don't airlines hand out stationery anymore so that we can write angry missives?

Also: Is this what Paris Hilton's txt msgs are going to be in thirty years? If so, that's pretty depressing. Handwriting is so much more expressive than typed text.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:01 AM on May 25, 2006


three words...

No, I agree. George Carlin is a comedian. It's just a point of view. And in fairness, not really mine, but he's funny, and that sums up the way some people think. The London kids who adopted blues music in the sixties seem to have given plenty credit to their mentors and treated them awfully well. Howlin' Wolf is the first example that comes to mind. There were many others. I think John Lennon was right. I think had it not been for the attention blues got in England, many of those old bluesmen would have had a lot more to be blue about.
posted by airguitar at 9:06 AM on May 25, 2006


It's a 2 way street:

posted by afx114 at 9:12 AM on May 25, 2006


Hahahahahaha!!!!!! Awesome, afx114! Now, who's going to step up and claim that black people have no business covering Whitey's music. Any takers???
posted by slatternus at 9:20 AM on May 25, 2006


I love the Beatles and I love the (60s-70s) Stones. But when I found out about Slim Harpo, Exile on Main St really changed for me. Like OJ made with chemical concentrate compared to fresh squeezed pulp.

It's interesting that people today accuse artists like John Lurie of "singing in black face" (for the Marvin Pontiac album, which is gorgeous, btw) but yet the very affluently raised Mick Jaggar can swaggar like he's on a chain gang and it's given a pass. I love (L-O-V-E) Exile, though. But I'm also not offended by this stuff. Shit, I love Judy Garland's blackface number, even. It is cultural mining and theft, though, all of it.

I really enjoy the George Carlin joke. My favorite statement on white people and black music has to be the "BLUES HAMMER" band from the Ghost World movie.
posted by Peter H at 9:22 AM on May 25, 2006


I think the Carlin joke is in incredibly bad taste. "Reverse racism" is more than just a catchy phrase.
posted by slatternus at 9:24 AM on May 25, 2006


P.S., did you notice there's a band on that Trojan comp called "The Black Beatles" ???
posted by afx114 at 9:27 AM on May 25, 2006


The London kids who adopted blues music in the sixties seem to have given plenty credit to their mentors and treated them awfully well.

I almost wish they hadn't - when my Mom starts reminiscing about some of the line-ups she saw as a teenager in the UK, I want to throw up with jealousy. If memory serves, there was a tour with the Stones, The Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Howlin' Wolf.

It's a 2 way street:

There was a Beatles reggae album, afx114? ;-)
posted by jack_mo at 9:32 AM on May 25, 2006


I think the Carlin joke is in incredibly bad taste.

You're right. He's not saying anything redeemingly truthful about a bunch of phony douchebags aping the songs of the disenfranchised for a ton of money (including gospel brunch!)

I remember watching Moonlighting and Die Hard and saying to myself, "that poor boy shouldn't be in those movies or on that television comedy, he needs to be on the stage, with a harmonica, singin da bloos!"
posted by Peter H at 9:32 AM on May 25, 2006


Oh, I see. Sorry.
posted by jack_mo at 9:33 AM on May 25, 2006


You're right. He's not saying anything redeemingly truthful about a bunch of phony douchebags aping the songs of the disenfranchised for a ton of money (including gospel brunch!)

Is that what white people have been up to? Gee, in that case, fuck white people!
posted by ludwig_van at 9:51 AM on May 25, 2006


songs of the disenfranchised

Hahahahahahaha. You're kidding, right?
posted by slatternus at 9:52 AM on May 25, 2006


In most cities, the majority of the blues bands are white. They can play it just as well but damn, it's hard to find a white cat that can sing like a brother - and to me, that's what makes the blues so great. The soul in that voice, the heartache and the "real" experiences they've gone through.

This is what brought the Carlin quote to mind. There is something to be said for feeling the music you presume to be singing, but that feeling isn't something anyone has a genetic priority to before anyone else, especially keyed on skin color, as far as I can tell. I should set these quotes up with a little more pretext ... White people can sing the blues, and so can the Chinese, and anyone else, but inauthenticity exists, and some people are open to criticsm. Comedy is an exercise in exaggeration and selective focus. Consider the joke moreso than the particulars of the point. Really that first line stands on it's own,"if white people are going to burn down black churches, then black people oughta burn down the House of Blues." This was 1999 and black churches being mysteriously burned was a regular news story. The whole album was very angry, "You Are All Diseased," I recommend it to anyone.
posted by airguitar at 9:58 AM on May 25, 2006


Just another way of saying that us black folks are good dancers because we've got "natural rythmn". Thanks for the compliment, but no thanks.
posted by slatternus at 10:04 AM on May 25, 2006


but inauthenticity exists, and some people are open to criticsm.

Begin the countdown until someone uses the term "rockist."

Or are we in "bluesist" territory here?
posted by ludwig_van at 10:05 AM on May 25, 2006


How about we just leave all this ethnic ghetto shit behind. Music belongs to EVERYONE.
posted by slatternus at 10:17 AM on May 25, 2006


Just another way of saying that us black folks are good dancers because we've got "natural rythmn".

I don't want to spend a lot of time explaining someone else's joke, but that's not what I consider the 'funny' to be. It's a subtle joke. If white people are going to burn down black halls of worship to what those white people consider sacred, then black people should return in kind and burn down the phony, inauthentic houses of worship built by white people to honor the people and music blacks can rightfully consider sacred. "It's a fucking sacrelidge!" It's a racial joke. George Carlin's been around a long time. He's pushing seventy, so his humor comes from a different era. If you didn't like the joke, I'm sorry. I'm open to criticism.

On preview: okay.
posted by airguitar at 10:18 AM on May 25, 2006


Hahahahahahaha. You're kidding, right?

Disenfranchised doesn't mean robbed of rights?

Well poor word choice on my part. The blues are great because they communicate pain and joy at the same time. A life lived with simultaneous pain and joy - and yes, a robbing of rights, which I think the 50s and 60s were still very much about with regard to black music, and that's why Carlin very correctly suggests white people not sing it. Sorry if the word stings. It's meant to galvanize, though.

I actually agree that music belongs to all people - but also feel genuine music always trumps imposters. Anyway, was responding to your comment about Carlin's joke being in poor taste. I think the House of Blues Dream Team can deal with some darts thrown at them. I mean, they did make the places look like a giant shack, even, right?

Also, just for topic's sake - I really like John Lennon.
posted by Peter H at 10:42 AM on May 25, 2006


If white people are going to burn down black halls of worship to what those white people consider sacred, then black people should return in kind and burn down the phony, inauthentic houses of worship built by white people to honor the people and music blacks can rightfully consider sacred.

Yeah, and Native Americans should give all the white people smallpox. That'll teach 'em.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:52 AM on May 25, 2006




(laughs) noted. Also noted that you chose to defend the line and not McCartney!

Hmmmmm. Well, McCartney's been pretty indefensible of late, so, no, I wouldn't want to be in the position of defending him.
posted by blucevalo at 11:33 AM on May 25, 2006


"This issue would feel somewhat more relevant if black people or white people actually had a new musical innovation in the last 25 years."
um...rap....um....grunge....um, shall I go on?


Seeing as how rap is older than 25 years and grunge didn't really add much as you imply, yes. There's nothing wrong, per se, with the White Stripes et al. or the rap music I hear in the current music market, but everything feels pretty well-explored and nonrevolutionary today. It's felt like that for awhile. YMMV, but it just doesn't strike me as a particularly inventive stretch. Unfortunately this stretch coincides with virtually my entire existence.
posted by dgaicun at 11:47 AM on May 25, 2006


There's nothing wrong, per se, with the White Stripes et al.

The last 25 years hasn't seen anything as significant as the birth of jazz or the invention of atonality, but bitching that nothing inventive is being done (especially when you're using The White stripes, an explicitly retro blues-rock revivalist band, as an example) makes it sound like you just aren't paying attention. Although grunge is also a very poor example. And hip-hop isn't much older than 25.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:00 PM on May 25, 2006


It doesn't strike me as a particularly inventive stretch either. Mashups are good, but they are older than William Burroughs.
posted by airguitar at 12:08 PM on May 25, 2006


IDM anyone? Call me batshitinsane, but I believe that in 25 years time it will be looked upon the way Jazz is today.
posted by afx114 at 12:22 PM on May 25, 2006


ok, rap is just over 30 years old and I imply only that grunge would fit the statement you made. Clearly, what was going on in Seattle was considered innovative - given what was popular at the time. What is non-revolutionary is radio. There are groups trying but the music business isn't about music. Spend time looking around, you'll find plenty of inventive acts - just not on the dial.

I don't have a problem with Carlin's joke. For him (and countless others), stereotyping usually makes for a good joke - or very bad taste, depending on your frame of reference. He's right about the HOB though. The place is a joke in the blues community. And Carlin is obviously talking about Dan Akroyd and that awful Blues Brothers show. Racist? Eh, whatever. The guy really isn't that far off the beaten path.
posted by j.p. Hung at 12:22 PM on May 25, 2006


Spend time looking around, you'll find plenty of inventive acts - just not on the dial.

Yes, this is true.

But grunge wasn't innovative, it was reactionary.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:30 PM on May 25, 2006


"... but 12 grand for a letter, which looks like it was scribbled whilst on an aeroplane."

See, to me, that's much more valuable than a guitar. It's a snapshot of a day in the life, no pun intended.
posted by rougy at 1:44 PM on May 25, 2006


But grunge wasn't innovative, it was reactionary.

Hey, easy there. Jerry Fallwell is reactionary. Grunge was derivative. But... it was a helluva a lot of fun. Grunge was borne of a lot of kids in the rainy PNW, stuck in their basements all winter long banging out metal (Sabbath, Zeppelin), garage (Kingsmen, Troggs) and punk tunes (Buzzcocks, Pistols, Damned). The result of this somewhat narrow set of influences as well as the insular/cliquish makeup of this group of people was grunge (Soundgarden, Green River, Skin Yard, Monomen, etc.).

It definitely wasn't for everyone, but someone born in the late 60s, it was definitely a breath of fresh air for me at the time, in the midst of all the crappy hair metal and synth pop that prevailed at the time.
posted by psmealey at 1:56 PM on May 25, 2006


no pun intended.

Ha, I can't help but think how awesome it would be if the letter began, "Dear Sir it has been a Hard Day's Night...."
posted by Peter H at 1:59 PM on May 25, 2006


but everything feels pretty well-explored and nonrevolutionary today. It's felt like that for awhile.

I can definitely relate to that, but part of me wonders if that has more to do with my age and experience rather than today's overall music quality, and the reactionary (there's that word again) thought that "everything was better in my day". Musicians, it's been said above, constantly borrow from each other, as well as from previous generations.

For example, in 1992, I was 25 years old. When I first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit", it sounded fresh and exciting to me. I was blown away. Today, at 39, Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound like the Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees warmed over. Nothing new there, the kids are rediscovering post punk. Great. Been there, done that.

I wonder, if in 1992 someone who was 39, having come of age with the Sex Pistols, the Clash and Gang of Four a decade or so earlier, found Nirvana to be just as derivative as I find the current raft of 80s influenced bands.

Full circle back to the text of Lennon's later, similarly, many of the prigs in the press in 60's were just as happy to dismiss the Fab Four and the Stones as rip-offs of the American Blues scene.

Maybe it's only ever been thus.
posted by psmealey at 2:12 PM on May 25, 2006


Hey, easy there. Jerry Fallwell is reactionary. Grunge was derivative. But... it was a helluva a lot of fun.

I wasn't trying to make a value judgement - I was just saying that grunge wasn't innovative. It's often seen as a reaction to hair-metal, but just because it was different from what it replaced as the dominant musical form doesn't mean that it was anything really original.

When I first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit", it sounded fresh and exciting to me. I was blown away.

What, had you not heard The Pixies before?

Today, at 39, Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound like the Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees warmed over.

I don't think many would argue that those bands are very innovative, either.

Personally, I have little use for the kind of innovation that some people seem to bemoan a lack of. I mean, the symphony has been around for a really long time, but I don't feel like all of the good symphonies have been written. I feel the same way about pop songs.

But the way you talk about Nirvana makes it sound like it is something of an age thing.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:39 PM on May 25, 2006


Well, again technically more than 25 years, but electronic music a la Kraftwerk and its descendants (trance, industrial, techno, house, etc) is pretty innovative.

Sure, there were electronic instruments before, but not much before Kraftwerk that had that true electronic sound, and it wasnt till the 80's that there were any sizable number of people doing it (and I'd say it was the 90's where electronic music truly hit its stride).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:00 PM on May 25, 2006


Daft Punk.
posted by airguitar at 3:05 PM on May 25, 2006


IDM anyone? Call me batshitinsane, but I believe that in 25 years time it will be looked upon the way Jazz is today.

I'll resist the temptation ;-)

Everyone seems to be looking for a seismic shift in the last 25 years, but I can't think of a new form of music in that sense... ever. Synthesis, appropriation, cross-pollination causing new forms to flower? Sure. Something appearing out of nowhere? Not so much. (Unless you factor in the cultural gubbins surrounding a form of music that throw up a mix of music, fashion, drugs, mores, &c.)

Still, we're well overdue if you subscribe to that rather shaky 11 year cycle theory ('66, '77, '88...).
posted by jack_mo at 3:21 PM on May 25, 2006


I am a self-taught piano player who played nothing but 12-bar blues for a few years. As a 12-14 yr. old. A white suburban American kid turned on to the blues by the Brits. And "I'm not the only one," as Lennon put it about the same year he wrote this airline paper memo.

I went on from there, for me, of course. Way on. I'm still white, but I play the blues. And some other stuff.
posted by kozad at 3:46 PM on May 25, 2006


A white suburban American kid turned on to the blues by the Brits.

There's something very lovely about that sort of transatlantic give-and-take, I've always thought.

Though I apologise profusely on behalf of my country for nicking your house music and sending it back a couple of decades later in the form of Paul Oakenfold. That was uncalled for.
posted by jack_mo at 4:21 PM on May 25, 2006



posted by afx114 at 5:14 PM on May 25, 2006


Don't worry about it, Jack_mo. While we're at it, I'll apologize, on behalf of michigan, for Kid Rock.
posted by Tlogmer at 5:25 PM on May 25, 2006


psmealey writes "For example, in 1992, I was 25 years old. When I first heard 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', it sounded fresh and exciting to me. I was blown away. Today, at 39, Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound like the Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees warmed over. Nothing new there, the kids are rediscovering post punk. Great. Been there, done that."

But you repeat yourself ... Nirvana was plenty derivative. I wasn't all that taken by grunge at the time - I liked their influences much better. I liked Soundgarden and Sleater-Kinney - still do. But so much of it is pretentious, whiny, self-absorbed and enamored with nothing but its own ennui (so prevalent among my generation X). I have to give Nirvana some credit. Cobain mocked the sort of fan worship which his fans display so openly to this day. And his widow stays relevant by being trashy in public, trying desperately to keep heroin chic trendy. For some reason, I have more affection for a middle aged heavy metal rocker like Ozzy on a reality show with his dysfunctional family and zoo of purebreds, stumbling around and mumbling unintelligibly. At least it doesn't look like they take themselves that seriously ... But, yeah, it was better than '80s hair bands and overproduced synth rock schlock.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:25 PM on May 25, 2006


slatternus writes "I think the Carlin joke is in incredibly bad taste."

I used it on a mix once. The bit goes on from the quote above ... "And another thing. I don't think white people should try to dance like blacks. Stick to your faggoty polkas and waltzes! And that repulsive country line-dancing shit that you do ... And be yourself, be proud, be white, and get the fuck off the dancefloor!" and immediately it segues into Tom Jones and Art of Noise covering "Kiss" by Prince. It's a beautiful moment ...
posted by krinklyfig at 5:45 PM on May 25, 2006


My dad did accounting for work Lennon around the time he [Lennon] was having problems with INS, and was helping him move funds (often through the purchase of artwork) between the U.S. and the U.K.

He [my dad] has a bunch of handwritten notes from Lennon (some on Apple Records stationary), including one requesting that my dad cut a check to May Pang for expenses.

I wonder how much his collection is worth.
posted by pruner at 6:11 PM on May 25, 2006


I wonder how much his collection is worth.

I dunno, but given the annual publishing flob of Beatles reminiscipackage nonsense, your Dad could probably get a sweet book deal.

Cobain mocked the sort of fan worship which his fans display so openly to this day

And yet he spent every interview he ever did wanking over the Raincoats while wearing a Daniel Johnston t-shirt. And I'm not even mocking old smack-chops there - 'fan worship', by which I assume you mean hero worship, is a perfectly healthy part of music. That degree of obsession is required to produce the next generation of musicians. Talk to any great musician, however original, and they'll witter on about the people that inspired them to an embarrasing degree.
posted by jack_mo at 6:38 PM on May 25, 2006


The reason people see no new innovations in music after they've stopped being teenagers is that the innovations are invisible to them. Sorry to be blunt.

Nirvana's main innovation wasn't cultural -- that is, the point of Nirvana isn't really to be all angsty, and the point of the sound (usually) isn't to be dissonant. Nirvana has written some of the most brilliantly beautiful songs in the past 20 years.

I remember seeing T-shirts at the Detroit Electronic Music festival a few years ago that said incubus sucks (or something like that). The concertgoers didn't understand, likewise, that the point of incubus wasn't to be angsty and tough; it was to be new. Incubus is certainly no Nirvana, but I'll think they'll eventually be recognized as influential. Even linkin park doesn't really exist to be angsty (That's right. I went there.).
posted by Tlogmer at 7:20 PM on May 25, 2006


Nothing new or important in the last twenty years? Horseshit.

White Album < Aeroplanes Over the Sea
posted by Peter H at 8:35 PM on May 25, 2006


Oops, that's Aeroplane Over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel)
Also, if you think Hiphop isn't vital, please google Clouddead, The Coup, and Blackalicious.

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist's BRAINFREEZE album is just as cerebrally important to modern music as Miles Davis' improv classic Kind of Blue. Funkier, even.

I love anything Skin Graft records makes for the loud rock.

And really I'm just at about 1999-2001 with all this stuff. Though the Coup's new album is wonderful.

If your ears are really as starved as they sound, googling all this will make you happy.
posted by Peter H at 8:42 PM on May 25, 2006


jack_mo writes "And I'm not even mocking old smack-chops there - 'fan worship', by which I assume you mean hero worship, is a perfectly healthy part of music.

Mass-marketing of music idols is a relatively new phenomenon. Granted, it's better in a way than all "great" music being sponsored by the king, written for the king, but it produces music as a commodity rather than as art, though art does find its way in spite of obstacles against it ... Anyway, I think you misunderstand me.

That degree of obsession is required to produce the next generation of musicians. Talk to any great musician, however original, and they'll witter on about the people that inspired them to an embarrasing degree."

That's not what I mean. Of course musicians and artists inspire each other (and the truly great musicians always find their own voices).

There is a difference. For instance, I appreciate John Lennon's music, but I also know the man inspired National Lampoon's "Magical Misery Tour."
posted by krinklyfig at 9:27 PM on May 25, 2006


But you repeat yourself ... Nirvana was plenty derivative.

Of course I do, that was exactly my point. What was new and exciting for me at 25 was pretty much old hat for someone else at 38. Just pointing to the eternal cycles in pop music.

Do I think that, by and large, Nirvana was better than Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, etc., even though all these bands were derivative of their influences? Yes, I do, but that's a matter of personal taste rather than an absolute judgment.

I think there is always going to be a reactionary voice in every generation that denigrates whatever is currently popular by comparing it unfavorably with what came before, or calling it derivative. That group of folks will will accuse the Stones of ripping off Howling Wolf, Dinosaur Jr. ripping off the Stooges, Jesus Lizard ripping off the Birthday Party, Green Day ripping off the Jam and the Buzzcocks, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club ripping off Jesus and Mary Chain, Puddle of Mudd ripping off Nirvana, the Strokes ripping off the VU and so on.
posted by psmealey at 3:46 AM on May 26, 2006


Nirvana's main innovation wasn't cultural -- that is, the point of Nirvana isn't really to be all angsty, and the point of the sound (usually) isn't to be dissonant. Nirvana has written some of the most brilliantly beautiful songs in the past 20 years.

I'm really not sure what you mean. Nirvana's biggest impact was cultural. They weren't so much amazingly good at anything as they were the harbingers of a new mainstream aesthetic. And they were angsty.

The concertgoers didn't understand, likewise, that the point of incubus wasn't to be angsty and tough; it was to be new. Incubus is certainly no Nirvana, but I'll think they'll eventually be recognized as influential.

I don't get this either. Incubus does suck, for the most part. They're very good musicians, but their songs are crappy. But I doubt anyone's ever going to think of them as more influential than they are now.

Do I think that, by and large, Nirvana was better than Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, etc., even though all these bands were derivative of their influences? Yes, I do, but that's a matter of personal taste rather than an absolute judgment.

Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, etc.?

By the way, have you heard Wolf Parade? John Vanderslice? The Mountain Goats? Sufjan? Danielson? Devendra? Band of Horses? Voxtrot? Tapes 'n Tapes?
posted by ludwig_van at 6:09 AM on May 26, 2006


ludwig_van, I was just trying to point out my preference of Nirvana over the current crop of derivative bands (as well as my own unwitting hypocrisy), making the point that history repeats itself. The proto-"rockism" that Lennon was decrying in his note is something that repeats itself over and over again. So why bother splitting hairs about it?

Yes, I do know (and like) most of the artists that you mentioned.

In fact I am (or was, haven't spoke in while) a friend of Dan Carr, who played in MK Ultra with John Vanderslice. I have met him and seen him play many times.
posted by psmealey at 6:24 AM on May 26, 2006


That's cool, I was just wondering. "Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, etc." seemed to me like an odd thing to say.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:31 AM on May 26, 2006


« Older Who'd have thought that rice cakes could be...   |   Save the South Central Farm! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post