Monday, April 25, 2005

never underestimate the power of denial

Some people never learn. Those people being, me, myself, and I. Long ago (mid-90’s) I owned a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Its articles, pictures, and reviews helped to nurture my young music-snobbery. I made a collage in my room strictly of pictures taken from the magazine over the course of two years. Its reviews led me to some wonderful surprises (Bjork, The Orb) and fed my hunger for new CD’s. This love affair ended in the late 90’s.

Looking back, I’m not sure what the main reason was. Bad reviews, too many ads, too many fashion issues, too many unworthy artists on the covers, etc… Maybe my tastes just changed. Admit it, those years were awful. We were somewhere between the wasteland of soft-alternative (Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20), pop-punk (Everclear, Eve 6) and party rock (Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray) … and the wreckage of teen-pop (N’SYNC, Britney Spears), nu-metal (Limp Bizkit, POD), and third-generation grunge (Godsmack, Creed).

I shudder even now. And Rolling Stone seemed to create no real distinction between the latest multi-platinum flash-in-the-pan, and those artists who had built a solid reputation after years of recording and touring. And each cover seemed to alienate me more and more (between 1999 and 2001, Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys each appeared on the cover three times. N’SYNC twice, with a special edition that featured a member per cover). This is the magazine that used to be controversial and underground!! The magazine that used to be picky about who they put on the cover. Also on the cover in 2001? Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson, J-Lo, Johnny Knoxville, Julia Stiles, The Rock, and the girls from American Pie 2.

Let’s see who was on the cover back in 1971… John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Starship, Country Joe McDonald, Ike and Tina Turner, Elton John, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, James Taylor, The Jackson 5, The Doors, The Beach Boys, George Harrison, and Michael Jackson. That year also included covers featuring ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’, ‘The Incredible Hulk’, and Evangelist Mel Lyman. Ok, outside of Mr. Lyman and poor ‘ol Country Joe, each of these individuals have made a lasting and important contribution to music (though 'I Feel Like I'm Fixin to Die Rag' did matter for a short while). Heck, it wasn’t even that bad in 1987… U2, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Madonna, David Bowie, Motley Crue, The Bangles, Pee-Wee, Talking Heads, R.E.M., Robert Cray, Jimi Hendrix, Jon Bon Jovi, George Harrison, The Grateful Dead, Michael Jackson, Michael J Fox, Pink Floyd, and Peter Gabriel. Once again, not perfect (Pee-Wee!!!???), but more often than not, all of these individuals still matter today.

Yet every once in-a-while I still pickup the damn thing. Because I enjoy being disappointed I suppose. You always know what to expect, yet you grab it anyway. Silly covers, blurbs from bands you don’t care about, and bad reviews. The ‘serious news article’ that no one reads. The left-wing editorial that no-one should read (and I’m a liberal!!).

The last two issues I’ve picked up have done little to ease my pessimism. The first was an issue called ‘The Immortals’. It listed (magazines LOVE lists because then their jaded writers don’t actually have to research anything) the most important musicians of all time. Yes, I do have a problem with a couple of names on here. The list should exile Eminem for being too recent. I feel that we can’t honestly know an artist’s complete impact on music history until at least 10 years after their debut (if not after their most successful moment). And could be stop pretending the Sex Pistols were so God-like? They were a short-lived train wreck who needed the Ramones to show them what punk was. Give me The Clash or The Buzzcocks any day. Kudos to the magazine for including Roxy Music on the list. Minus 3 points though for having John Taylor of bloody Duran Duran do the write-up! Speaking of Duran Duran…

According to the latest issue of Rolling Stone, the members of the currently red hot Duran Duran are all still handsome, sexy and virile looking. Well, the above picture and the one actually in the magazine do little to back THAT claim up. The article goes on and on to praise the band as the hippest group of old guys on the planet, and namedrops their various bastard children, such as Interpol and The Bravery. Of course, instead of actually writing a good article on Interpol or placing a band like that on the cover, they simply get lumped in with the rest of the Duran Duran-ites in a neat little box in the corner of the massive Duran Duran spread.

Didn’t these guys already get a decade of love? And where were all these gushing baby boomers and blushing critics during the not-so-glamorous years? How many of you people bought 1990’s Liberty, or their last three disasters; Thank You, Medazzaland, or Pop Trash? No, no. It takes the glorious return of the ‘Three Taylors’ to get you all excited again! Well, their latest album is pretty bad too. And someone should tell Andy Taylor to stop wearing shades indoors. They make him look like an asshole. Oh wait, he already was.

Also in the magazine was yet another article about how weird and wonderful Rivers Cuomo is. Actually, he’s just an asshole too, who’s methodically eccentric behavior is worshiped in American ‘indie’ circles with the same enthusiasm that a Pete Doherty overdose earns in England. Make nice with Matt Sharp and put out a record with some soul (oh how I miss you Pinkerton), and maybe I’ll stop hoping you break up the band and actually back-up your weirdness with some bondafide craziness (see Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson, and Keith Moon)!


Anonymous roz said...

did you ever play emogame online? you get to be cedric from at the drive-in and kill fat girls wearing weezer hot topic, no less. fun for the whole family.

5:12 AM  

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