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July 15, 2005

Crooked Timbre
Posted by Patrick at 05:35 PM * 203 comments

I’m sure this will earn me some carefully-calibrated putdowns, but I have no tolerance for online conversations like this.

Not for the first time, I’m reminded of the great quote attributed to R. A. Lafferty: “The opposite of ‘serious’ isn’t ‘funny.’ The opposite of both ‘serious’ and ‘funny’ is ‘sordid.’”

Comments on Crooked Timbre:
#1 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 07:01 PM:

On average, absolutely everyone is underrated, all the 'global brand' hype aside.

Coca-cola might just be approaching overratedness, but I don't think any of those bands are going to be claiming to be bigger than coke any time soon.

Sordid, trivial, and self-obsessed. Even in the echo chamber - perhaps especially in the echo chamber, since there's nobody there to disagree with you - criticism like that is only ever about criticism.

#2 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 07:24 PM:

The quality of that conversation isn't bothering me as much as seeing DJ Shadow and the Stone Roses listed by a couple of people as over-rated.

I am shallowly affronted.

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 07:33 PM:

Isn't this the converse of "The stuff you kids listen to is noise"? It sounds to me like a long iteration of "The stuff you geezers listen to is crap."

#4 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 07:38 PM:

I'd like to quote Teresa from a while ago. "Oh, barf."

#5 ::: Brennen ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 07:42 PM:

Eh.

I used to participate in this sort of thing regularly, 'til I noticed that it's actually even less satisfying than sitting around cranking out "best of" lists.

This kind of mirrors my feelings about the entire occupation of (artistic) criticism. I'm sure there's plenty of critical writing out there that's worth reading on its own (the essays of Kenneth Rexroth, George Orwell, and glenn mcdonald, frex, have done me a world of good), but so much of it feels like an empty exercise in Having An Opinion.

#6 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 07:46 PM:

This sort of thing is very much in vogue in rock criticism, and it's basically a pissing contest. The more stuff you can slag, the hipper you think you are. There are whole books' worth of this, e.g., Burchill & Parsons's The Boy Looked at Johnny, in which we learn that everything except the Sex Pistols, X-Ray Spex, the Tom Robinson Band, and "Tamla Motown" (as the Brits call Motown) is total crap. Everything. And if you like anything else, you're just a wanker.

#7 ::: Waterhot ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 08:03 PM:

Well, since no-on else seems inclined to give Patrick the "carefully-calibrated putdown" (not sure the hyphenation there is strictly necessary, but I'm quoting, so I'll respect the author's intention) he claims as his right, I'll do it.

What is the difference between a few people shooting off harmless barbs at some iconic works (and some I frankly thought already forgotten) and you guys sitting here saying criticism ain't what it used to be ?

As for Mr Kelly's dismissive "sordid, trivial and self-obsessed" - puh-lease ! Aren't we all ? Especially all of us that blog or presume to leave pompous comments (including this one, naturally) on the blogs of others ? Seems like someone mislaid their sense of humour to me...

#8 ::: Henry ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 08:07 PM:

Maybe I'm biased, but I dunno what's so offensive here - I can see how someone might quite easily find it mildly annoying, but it seems to me to just be yer standard Friday, tired after work and ready for the weekend, bull session about inconsequentialities. Not a conversation likely to be productive of great critical insights, certainly, but hardly sordid. Or am I missing something?

#9 ::: sdn ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 08:25 PM:

i like all music. it is nice.

#10 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 09:01 PM:

I like to Think Positive. Lists of the BEST of anything get me in a better mood. For example (does this belong on A New York Minute thread?):

Snail porridge
Wolfram Siebeck tries out what is supposed to be the best restaurant in the world – The Fat Duck, near London.
Finally it's official. The best restaurant in the world is called The Fat Duck. To thank for this revelation are 600 experts (chefs, critics and connoisseurs) who were surveyed by the British newspaper The Guardian. And because 600 experts could never be wrong, we finally have the conclusive list of the fifty best gourmet restaurants in the entire world. An exceptionally high number of them – 14 to be precise – are in England. Which doesn't surprise anyone who has ever succumbed to the culinary seduction of English family hotels....

#11 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 10:08 PM:

I was born in 1962, so I'm older than some here, and younger, just, than others.

We couldn't get radio most of the time, and TV was not even theoretically possible. I went to school in the next town over, and heard all the other kids talk about the great episode of Happy Days, or Welcome Back Kotter, or Starsky and Hutch that they'd seen. I looked forward to seeing these great TV shows. There wasn't a lot of interest in music, not that I was aware of, anyway, not even in high school, where Aerosmith, Lynard Skynard, and Kiss were favored.

You know what? I've seen those TV shows and well, that's about all there is to say.

But I'm having a blast discovering all the music I never even knew existed--and that page gave me a whole bunch more names to check out. And have you guys seen how cheap vinyl is these days? Between that and iTunes, I'm having a lot of fun.

#12 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 10:45 PM:

"[I]t seems to me to just be yer standard Friday, tired after work and ready for the weekend, bull session about inconsequentialities. Not a conversation likely to be productive of great critical insights, certainly, but hardly sordid. Or am I missing something?"

Either you are or I am, because your two-sentence precis seems to me to be describing something completely different from the CT thread in question.

#13 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 10:51 PM:

As for Waterhot, you'll have to calibrate more carefully than that.

#14 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 11:30 PM:

My understanding is that any narrative has integrity, like a bubble, and its payoff comes from bursting that bubble of integrity.

The most immediate example is a joke, whether it's Steven Wright ("Curiosity killed the cat... but for a while I was a suspect") or Robin Williams, with his meticulous impersonations that spin off into wild tangents.

So in effect, great art is founded on disobedience, if not outrageous disobedience.

People complain that any child could dribble paint like Jackson Pollack -- except Jackson Pollack wasn't great because he dribbled paint. He was great because he disobeyed the brushstroke. What savage criticism of art his drips gave.

Chaplain's best movies are hard for me to watch, but that doesn't minimize his impact bringing a purer storytelling to moving pictures, when the silent movies before him were stories told in close-ups of faces. Who can argue with that kind of contribution?

#15 ::: Henry ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2005, 11:59 PM:

Patrick, I'm honestly not seeing what you're seeing here - as I say, there seems to be a fair bit of bloviating in the thread, but nothing beyond the bounds of the average bull session. Perhaps if you could point to the offensive comments, and say more specifically what's offensive about them, I'd get it (although I'm about to head off for the weekend, so may not be able to reply until after that).

#16 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 12:27 AM:

Henry, I am really stunned that I have to explain any of this. It's not about particular "offensive comments." It's about the entire worldview in which discourse like this is "inconsequential."

Obviously, foolishly earnest assholes like me (see also "mislaid their sense of humor") are so uncool (see also "inconsequential") in the eyes of the hipsters of CT that further argument is pointless.

#17 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 12:37 AM:

Patrick, did you feel the same about the Caesar's Bath meme that was orbiting the blogosphere a few months back? If not, what's the difference?

#18 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 01:34 AM:

So, the point of your writing is that you dislike writing that makes a point of disliking things.

The really clever bit was when you preemptively made a point of disliking any writing that makes a point of disliking your making a point of disliking writing that makes a point of disliking things!

I'd make a point about disliking that point, or about your certain dislike for my point, but I'm afraid if I do, the entire universe may crumple into a ball and get tossed toward the nearest waste bin. (Which, of course, it would miss.)

#19 ::: Joel Wideman ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 02:19 AM:

Please put things into the right perspective. This all started with a feature on Something Awful.

#20 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 02:51 AM:

If you look at it as a list of "Who's Overrated?", then yes, I can take Patrick's point; but the post at Crooked Timber and many of the commenters are explicitly saying "This artist or album just never worked for me." Which seems inoffensive enough. Are you more offended by CT thread, or by the original "Something Awful" posts that inspired it?

As someone who has his own share of "This just doesn't do it for me" reactions, I prefer to take the CT post in that spirit, and I can't seem to get very offended by it.

I know that peoples' tastes can be remarkably quirky and impossible to rationalize. Not only does no work of art work for everyone, but one should also note that a lot of people like things that they themselves wouldn't predict - - and people also form irrational dislikes as well. Granted, an attempt to rationalize an irrational dislike is not a particularly worthy endeavor, but I have a hard time working up indignation about it.

That said, some of the commenters DO seem to miss the possibility that if something isn't working for them, the failure might not be within the work.

#21 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 05:44 AM:

I wonder. I don't have a problem with 'this doesn't do it for me' threads in principle. In common with the writers of this thread, I have some trouble connecting to some of the music of the sixties, notably the Beach Boys. Nobody can like everything.

But if people are going to write about music, I tend to think they should concentrate on sharing the joy of new music that is good rather than whining about old music that doesn't suit them.

#22 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 06:37 AM:

"That said, some of the commenters DO seem to miss the possibility that if something isn't working for them, the failure might not be within the work."

The trouble with that is that some people will take it to mean the failure has to be in the commenter. And I wouldn't be surprised if we've all come across that attitude, perhaps from a school teacher.

A lot of artistic communication is "out of channel", depending on a context of common knowledge. If you know what La Marseillaise is about, you have a different view on All You Need Is Love. Some modern art, and Jackson Pollack is maybe a good example, is almost entirely "out of channel".

Even the traditional "pretty picture" can be full of context-dependent symbols.

And part of the context of pop music is the time in which is was written; the assumptions about the world. Sometimes the music supports them, sometimes it challenges them, but they're a part of the work.

So there's some classic rock that I think I'm simply too young to "get". And, sensitive fannish soul that I am, there's a lot of the modern stuff I just don't have a context for.

Which all adds up to a reason why "Live 8" didn't seem as good as "Live Aid". And maybe why Annie Lennox makes Madonna look luke-warm.

#23 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 07:04 AM:

Since except for the Beatles, I had NO idea who they were whining on about, I found the coversation boring in the extreme.

But I feel the same way about the many long recent conversations by adults who can't wait for the new Harry Potter book. They are equally unparse-able. Uninteresting. Unengaging.

The ways of minor dragons hardly concern me.

I think you are getting your knickers in a twist over very little, Patrick.

Jane

#24 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 08:26 AM:

Of course, writing critically about anything less important than the Great Issues of the day opens one to the charge of "getting your knickers in a twist over very little". That's a shot that can be taken at most of us several times a day. If I'm tying my underwear in knots over someone else's comment thread, then what origami of the briefs is being performed by the people arguing over the exact nuanced extent to which U2 or Nirvana are contemptibly overrated?

My objection isn't to people disliking stuff, or to conversations about What Doesn't Work For You. My objection is to the stench that arises when a bunch of humans--often people who were decent and interesting up until that exact moment--suddenly decide to give one another permission to be as nasty as possible. That wasn't an everyday "bull session" or a reasonable discussion of how tastes differ; rather, it was--at least until the mix got diluted--an ugly little hate-off.

Go back and look at it. The primary subject of most of the early posts wasn't music, and it wasn't the dynamics of preference or anything so interesting. Rather, the primary subject was how those who disagree with me, or who make music I dislike, are crap people with bad motives.

I don't really intend to harp on the matter. And I suppose I should remind anyone reading down this far that CT is one of my favorite sites on the web. But how online conversations flourish, or go septic, is a subject that interests me.

#25 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 08:39 AM:

Oh, and to answer Avram, I wasn't wildly entertained by the Caesar's Bath thing, but it's obviously different from the CT thread.

The "Caesar's Bath" challenge was to list five things (books, music, TV shows, whatever) that seem wildly popular in your social circle and which you just can't get into. By its nature it forces the writer to acknowledge a certain subjectivity, and highlights interesting issues of taste, inclination, individual quirk versus social trend. In exact contrast to the CT thread, the "Caesar's Bath" gimmick can't be used as a means of ginning up a comfortable group hate against the broad mass of people not cool enough to be Us.

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 09:05 AM:

"...the primary subject was how those who disagree with me, or who make music I dislike, are crap people with bad motives..."

That's exactly it. One of the things I like about Patrick & Teresa's site is that the goal of those who post here isn't to see who can outdo everybody else in the jejeune department.

#27 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 10:19 AM:

I want to thank Mike for the interesting comment about art constituting the betrayal of the intergrity of a narrative. I'm sure there are other definitions, and angles, but I really enjoyed that perspective. I've even saved that post in my macjournal.

#28 ::: Timothy Burke ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 11:48 AM:

This feels like an overreaction to me, Patrick, honestly. I grok what you're saying, it's fair enough, but I can also see why Henry is puzzled about your apparent degree of ranklement.

#29 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 02:14 PM:

Dave Bell -- could you elaborate please on the connection between Marseillaise and All You Need Is Love? All of a sudden I'm intrigued...

#30 ::: Josh ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 03:01 PM:

What do you think of The Believer, Patrick?

#31 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 03:24 PM:

What's also interesting is that people had done something casually that offended Patrick. Then as many people as I've seen object to anything he's said are wondering why Patrick is complaining (not casually, but quite formally) about something a group of people have done casually and (arguably) victimlessly.

For some people, casual intent is an excuse for almost any behavior. The rational for this is because for some people, and to varying degrees, realizing possibilities comes first, which depends on tolerance of the casual. What then does a publicly-presented opinion owe to these people?

I'm wondering what kind of reaction Patrick would have gotten if instead he had expressed reservations that a court of people were demonstrating disgust at music fans who they (the court of the disgusted) felt were devoted to music -- not because the impact of the music held up over time (if ever, arguably) but because their devotion was based on reliving the past.

(I remember music [of the reliving-of-the-past variety] being a common theme in reaching difficult patients of Oliver Sacks [and so I withhold my sympathy from those who vent disgust at such an application of music].)

And how does this relate to the complaints, of which Patrick shared, against Kevin Drum for allowing access to his content by an unapologetic conservative. Is Kevin owed the same consideration against casual disgust as classic-rock fans, or no?

#32 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 03:39 PM:

I will admit to being vastly confused by everything, possibly because I'm a musical ignoramus -- perhaps if the original post, the post about the post, the critique of the post, and the meta-commentary on posts and critique alike were all translated into their literary and/or genre fiction equivalents, I might be able to get a better handle on what's going on.

Then again, maybe not.

#33 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 03:48 PM:

...a means of ginning up a comfortable group hate against the broad mass of people not cool enough to be Us.

That sums it up nicely. That's the aspect of the Culture of Irony that I'll be happiest to see go away: the notion that distaste for something that lots of people like is some kind of virtue.

Mike, what you're talking about with Jackson Pollack et al is art in conversation with art. Bursting the bubble of narrative integrity - a wonderful way of putting it - is indeed a vital part of this ongoing conversation. This is a different thing entirely than talking shit about all the stuff you're too smart and cool to like.

Count me among those whose reaction to this phenomenon is a knot in the boxers. To call it "criticism" is to elevate it too much. (Hell, to call it "wanking" is to demean masturbation.)

Maybe it's just that my own tastes are so frequently the target of snobbery and vitriol. But this kind of thing makes me fantasize about an Initiative-style brain chip that would go off whenever someone uses the word "overrated."

#34 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 03:59 PM:

Debra, the way it's been explained to me is that a youth-market blossomed after WWII, which included a large consumer-appetite for rock & roll music.

There's kind of an inconsistency to the current devotion to classic rock & roll. The initial impact of the youth-centered music was in its innovation, but 40-50 years later that same music no longer carries any impact for its innovation. Like intelligence reports of Osama bin Laden's drive to attack the US, the interest is largely historical.

How then do we weigh the value of rock music whose innovative impact may not hold up, but continues to illicit such devotion? To the community Patrick refers to, the appropriate reaction to such music is disgust. Patrick objected, and here we are.

#35 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 04:09 PM:
Mike, what you're talking about with Jackson Pollack et al is art in conversation with art. Bursting the bubble of narrative integrity - a wonderful way of putting it - is indeed a vital part of this ongoing conversation. This is a different thing entirely than talking shit about all the stuff you're too smart and cool to like.

Does abstract expressionism receive no shit? In both cases, merit is questioned. Are you sure you mean to say they are different entirely?

#36 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 04:30 PM:

Yes, I'm saying that abstract expressionism as a response to art is entirely different than "your music sucks" as a response to art.

#37 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 05:07 PM:

More to the point: I think your premise that "in both cases, merit is questioned" is flawed.

Abstract expressionism doesn't question the merit of realism. It provides an alternative to it, which is not quite the same thing. Abstract expressionism, cubism, impressionism all looked at the state of the aesthetic before them and said "Yes, but does it have to be this way?" And they each went on to show that, no, it didn't.

I'm not saying, I suppose, that new frontiers don't arise out of contempt for the status quo, because they obviously can. John Lydon loves to tell the story of how he hooked up with Sid Vicious because of Sid's "I Hate Pink Floyd" t-shirt. Incidentally, this kind of attitude gets the same kind of *facepalm* reaction from me as the CT thread - except that John and Sid went on and picked up their instruments and made Never Mind the Bollocks, and that *act of creation* as a response is, I feel, a lot worthier of respect that sitting around and stroking your hate-on for all the stuff you're too damn good to like. (And I see that the Sex Pistols were among the first targets of the sneering on CT, right about where I could no longer bear to read on. The wheel is come full circle, and there you are.)

I suppose the point is that, except in a few extreme cases, "the appropriate reaction is disgust" is a contemptible way to have a conversation with art. Disgust is appropriate? Just because it's not your thing? There's something seriously skewed here, and moreso that it's so commonplace that we shrug and call it "blowing off steam."

#38 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 05:36 PM:
Does abstract expressionism receive no shit? In both cases, merit is questioned. Are you sure you mean to say they are different entirely?

Dan, I didn't realize you thought I was comparing abstract expressionism with disgust.

As to what I was trying to say, does disgust at abstract expressionism bare so little resemblance to the disgust at music to which Patrick cites that a comparison isn't worth making?

#39 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 05:55 PM:

Ah, I think I understand what you're getting at.

In which case, a comparison is entirely worth making. Contempt for Pollack is pretty much in the same league with contempt for U2, and my patience for both is pretty thin.

#40 ::: Henry ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 07:01 PM:

Patrick, I'm not sure what I said to provoke your reply above, but this conversation is obviously heading in the wrong direction, so I'm bowing out.

#41 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 09:38 PM:
Contempt for Pollack is pretty much in the same league with contempt for U2, and my patience for both is pretty thin.

So from your previous misunderstanding of what I said: you hold contempt in so much higher regard than Pollack that you balked at comparing them?

I hate to burst your bubble but, in evolutionary terms, abstract expressionism is actually more recent than contempt. So is U2.

#42 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 09:46 PM:

Jackson Pollack's drip paintings have been determined by computer analysis to each have a distinctly different fractal dimension. He may not have been able to articulate what he was doing, but he KNEW what he was doing. One can easily say the same thing about many rock musicians. And, Patrick, what was that line quoted on your once-separate blog? Something akin to:

"Rock criticism is people who can't write discussing musicians who can't talk, for subscribers who can't read."

I take it that you are irked by a substratum even lower than that.

#43 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2005, 10:58 PM:

Er, Mike, no. I don't know what the language barrier here is, but my point was that I find contempt for Pollack and U2 equally tacky and deplorable. (To be clear, I'm not a big U2 fan, though I like Pollack, so susbtitute "Norman Rockwell" if you like, if an example of art I don't especially like helps make my point better.)

In evolutionary terms, contempt may be older than abstract expressionism, but so's rape. That doesn't make it a good thing for our culture to indulge in.

I'm not certain what the debate is anymore, or whether we're having one at all. Indeed, I may have failed to understand the question you do me the honor of asking.

#44 ::: Barry Ragin ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 12:50 AM:

i've been involved in a conversation at Smirking Chimp that has gone on for nearly 7 weeks and 2100 posts now, about music.

It started with someone talking about the Eagles reunion show on tv, and several times drifted dangerously close to "you suck because the music you like sucks and isn't what i like" (and you can substitute "books" or "paintings" or "food" or whatever for "music"). But with a little bit of effort it's been turned into a mostly "here's some music i like which you may not have listened to before" discussion, and i suspect a number of people who participated in it are listening to different music and appreciating it who otherwise might not have.

Where I live, we have the American Dance Festival in town for 7 weeks every summer.

Now, dance is a language i don't speak, an art form i simply don't get. I have no comprehension of why human beings feel compelled to spend years training their bodies to do those things, or what emotions and insights they're trying to express or invoke in their perfomrances. Certainly not to the extent that i get, say, science fiction or pop music. But i've certainly enjoyed all the performances i've gone to over the past dozen or so years. And when i've been fortunate enough to attend with someone who does get it, who understands the grammar and vocabulary that dance employs, i appreciate the extra insight into the performance.

Of course, at some point in time, blog comments will be considered an art form, and our children will have the opportunity to engage in another variant of ingroup/outgroup behavior depending on which poster on which blog they like/hate.

#45 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 02:14 AM:

I know what's wrong with it. It's just so . . mean-spirited, mean-minded, and dumb. It's that dull-witted sort of bashery that people engage in to stop real conversation from going on. It's a kind of Limbaughesque approach to popular culture. You make "not getting it" into mark of a kind of purity -- free of the impurity of thinking, or getting into stuff, or having an esthetic reaction to things.

I've got opinions too. There are things I don't like that other people do like. There are things I even think are kind of bad that some other people think are kind of glorious (Patrick and I have had a go-round about some of these things, in the distant past). So it's not about everybody having to like or even respect certain pieces of music. It's a general attitude that music (or any artistic endeavor)must be soulless and inferior and unenjoyable if those people revere it(whoever those people might be at the moment, but honestly it's usually those lefty intellectual aging hippies who somehow seem to be running the esthetic world or something).

#46 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 03:31 AM:

I'm worse than blind and deaf to rock music. Billy Connolly, slightly older than me, said that when he first heard Elvis, it was like opening a door on a new world, and like coming home. When my friends found the Beatles and the Stones, it changed their lives. I heard that music, and felt only incomprehension and dismay. They liked this? They liked this?

That's only blindness and deafness, though. I'm worse. I spent a year as a resident teacher in a boarding school, where one of the few privileges of the inmates was to play music in the gym on Friday and Saturday nights. I had to be there, too. Naturally they played whatever they thought most out-there at volumes calculated to melt fillings on teeth. My reaction was acute nausea.

To this day, I can't write names like Jethro Tull, Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple, The Pistols, the Clash, Def Leppard and so on, without feeling physically ill. A car pulling up beside me at the lights with the boom box going is enough to produce a cold sweat and a griping gut. A loud party in the next street, and I have to get out. Somewhere, anywhere.

Now, I know this is both unjustifiable and irrational. I know that by being so phobically resistant to rock music - all rock music - I am walling myself off from an important and, what is more, essential part of the culture I live in. I can't help it.

A misguided friend once gave me one of Sky's albums, on the grounds that these were classical musicians giving a far more profound treatment to rock, actually using its idioms in a complex, technically difficult and intellectually satisfying way - and playing classical pieces as well. I sat through it, grimly determined to hear what they had to say. (Sky, I understand, is widely scorned by rock fans as soft-centre pap, and too damn complicated.) I heard these fine musicians, and it was as if a dear friend, a beautiful lady whom I had long admired discreetly from afar, had told me that she'd noticed how silly I was being, and that she'd be glad to bed me for an appropriate sum, for after all that's how she'd put herself through college.

This is not an intellectual reaction to a music that I consider (intellectually) to be impoverished, for all its technological equipage, and usually banal, lumpen and violent to boot. That would be banished by providing examples of rock music that isn't like that, and I would then be forced to admit that the form is not in itself intrinsically loathsome. It's not like that. I can't be moved by such instances.

Consider Rome, 100 AD. To the average person, a day at the Games was an ordinary part of a holiday. The spectacles, the blood, death and agony involved, were tremendously popular, and an essential part of the culture. Romans who loathed the brutality and the crude excitement - and there were some who did - were thought quaint, effete and effeminate.

But that form of entertainment was an affront to civilisation, and revolting, and hideous. It does no good to quote to me the occasional examples of comradeship, decency and dignity found in the arena, nor to tell me about its essential courage, power, artistry and skill. The arena was a loathsome thing, in and of itself. Accounts of it make me feel physically ill. And that's the same reaction that I have to rock music.

#47 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 03:36 AM:

Dave - Don't feel bad. I have a great friend who doesn't like much written since the 80's. The 1780's that is.

He even refers to old Ludwig van as "Boom Boom Beethoven."

I have, however, managed to get him to see the virtues of They Might Be Giants. Nerds are as nerds do, after all.

#48 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 05:32 AM:
Er, Mike, no. I don't know what the language barrier here is, but my point was...

...originally, your point was:

Yes, I'm saying that abstract expressionism as a response to art is entirely different than "your music sucks" as a response to art.

And, as for the former, you said:

...my patience... is pretty thin.

...from which I concluded:

So from your previous misunderstanding of what I said: you hold contempt in so much higher regard than Pollack that you balked at comparing them?

So tell me about this language barrier to which you refer, Dan.

#49 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 08:27 AM:

Dave, if you dislike both Jethro Tull and the Clash (and I speak as a fan of both), then you're probably a step up the evolutionary ladder from those who hate one and love the other.

I'm curious--is there a form of popular music, not necessarily current, that you do like?

Anyway, I don't know exactly why this topic bugs Patrick so, but it bugs me on this ground: I tried very hard when I wrote record reviews not to write pans, on the simple ground that they were useless. My job was to point people to things they'd like, preferably things they wouldn't encounter unless they heard about them from someone like me.

Now, there are certain sacred cows that I enjoy beating, that should be beaten. I'll happily tell people that Sgt. Pepper and The Beatles are the downhill slide of a band that peaked with "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane". At least, I used to do that, when people cared about the Beatles, and there was a shot at getting Revolver into their heads.

That wears thin pretty quickly, though--five minutes or less.

There's also a lot of joy in taking a contrarian position. I think Warren Zevon's Transverse City is an underappreciated near-masterpiece, and I push it on people. I'm here to tell you that Bob Dylan's Planet Waves is as good as Highway 61 Revisited or Blood on the Tracks or Love and Theft. Miles Davis' In A Silent Way is...oh, you get the idea.

Oh, and Robert L: Roxy Music, at least the first two, and Patti Smith are also cool. You wanker.

#50 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 08:40 AM:

Now, there are certain sacred cows that I enjoy beating, that should be beaten.

I personally enjoy the esoteric sport of sacred cow tipping.

#51 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 10:18 AM:

Jeremy -- the brass bit at the beginning of "All You Need Is Love" is the opening bars of "Marseillaise". It could be Paul doing "love conquers all", or John having us on, or something I haven't guessed.

Dave -- wasn't that you in Slippery Jim and the Rattettes? If so, how did you stand it?
I'm not fond of loud music in large doses, but there are still a few pieces I like to put on at high volume (usually in the car on the highway, where the neighbors won't notice) -- frequently Jefferson Airplane (not the obvious pair of songs but some of the more interesting LP cuts that never get on the radio). To each his own poison (which I read as part of what upset Patrick).

#52 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 10:37 AM:

Maybe they've changed the content since Patrick posted, but I really can't see what the comments are that have got a couple of people aggravated.

I mean, it's a bunch of people saying which albums they couldn't get into, and/or think are over-rated (combined with the occasional pop at the artist, which is only to be expected). I've had similar conversations with friends. It's no big deal, unless you take the viewpoint that "all art is precious art, and must not be criticised".

(If anyone does hold that viewpoint, I'll try to avoid having a conversation about art with you, because I don't think either of us would enjoy it.)

#53 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 12:21 PM:

adamsj: Irving Berlin, if I'm allowed to specify "Puttin' on the Ritz". Delicious. Gershwin, most of it, though some is a bit treacly for me. "Porgy and Bess" is the last great opera, though. Come to think of it, I like quite a lot of Sondheim, though I find him very New York, with apologies to present company. Even Lloyd-Webber, though I know, I know, that much of it is cliched. (How do you put that acute in, again?) But "So you are the Christ", Herod's song from "JC Superstar" is, I think, superb. And the Pie Jesu (there's that acute not there again) from "Requiem" is a lovely thing. It's simple, and it's all in the performance if it's not to be mawkish. I've heard Placido Domingo drive a horse and cart through it, apparently with the approval of the composer, but sung as it should be sung, plain, scrubbed clean, distant, with calm crystal certainty, it has real power.

I don't know. What counts as popular music, currently?

CHip: Yes, that was me, playing (God forgive me for abusing the word and the instrument) a bass guitar in Slippery Jim and the Ratettes", a filk band. Of sorts. And it is undeniable that we played bad, and as loud as we could, which was thankfully not very loud. It was, however, very bad. I stood it by telling myself that I wasn't there, that all experience was useful, and by using earplugs. Watching Ian Nichols - the same as advised me that rhyming verse is now alien to the culture - rendering "Sweet Transvestite" is an experience that will stay with me to my dying day. Nobody who saw that performance will ever forget it.

#54 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 12:23 PM:

First of all, most of the music we class as classical was popular music in its original time, so the distinction isn't simple and straightforawrd, it's complicated. Cultural artifacts change in meaning as the culture around them changes.

Paul, please go back and look at what I said, because I think I did explain the difference between a bunch of people listing what they don't like and what that crew is doing. Context, tone, details matter. It pays to pay attention to nuance.

#55 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 12:37 PM:

CHip -- Oh yeah, right! I had to poke Ellen and say, "What's the brass bit at the beginning of All You Need Is Love"? And she said, "Da da dah dah, dah dah, DAH, da dah, da da dah, dah, da-da, Love, Love, Love", and I said "oh yeah, that's the Marseillaise!" and she was like "duh"... I guess every time I've listened to that song I have known what I was hearing but it never really registered.

Dave Luckett -- I really don't mean this as a criticism but I'm genuinely puzzled by your post. I think I have known one other person who expressed similar sentiment and I considered him a real jerk but for other, independent reasons. I mean I don't really get e.g. classical music or most jazz or rap but I don't object to hearing them -- it seems pleasant enough to have music in the atmosphere around my head even if it's going over my head. And I keep listening to them in hopes that I will one day wake up to what I'm hearing even if I don't seek them out like I do folk music and blues and some rock. And, what is the extent of your visceral disgust at rock music? Does it encompass everything that would be identified as Rock & Roll? Rhythm & Blues? Motown? Do you differentiate between different styles of popular music or is it all trash? & What about the music that is the roots of rock, like primarily the blues and western folk music? Any reaction positive or negative? I ask only because I'm curious.

#56 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 01:00 PM:

Honestly, the thing that keeps me from sneering at people who like music I don't is that I retain an appreciation for a handful of Rush albums, most notably Permanent Waves.

If I encountered their music today, I'd probably run screaming and be ready to dis their fans. Gotta say that this is enough to make me tolerant of the Britney and 50 Cent crowds.

Right now, my car CD case is full of The Mountain Goats, Cake, Sigur Ros, Bjork and my Eurolingua Deutsch 3 language discs. Aside from the German practice, my music preferences seem to have become "Post-Alternative" for lack of a better label. Thank the heavens (or at least Paul Allen) for KEXP which actually plays new music that I like and run out and buy.

#57 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 01:33 PM:

Lucy - the thing is that I don't get any of what you list in your post from the CT comments I read; that's the "problem". Some of the comments do seem to get a little meaner as you go down, but c'est la vie.

But I still don't see what's actually wrong with saying that you don't like X. There seem to be people on here who have the idea that the CT post is saying "you must not listen to these bands because they suck!!!", and I don't get that from their post at all. They're expressing opinions, that's all.

I've just searched the thread for 'bad'. There's one post from someone claiming punk is "bad music"; one post from someone commenting on Meg White's drumming; and the next usage comes from Teresa. I think saying that their post and comments are saying music foo is 'bad' is probably unjustified.

As it stands, it really does just look to me like those people are saying they don't like such-and-such, and that's fine. Or are people not allowed to point out groups and albums they don't like, or that they think are over-rated?

I think I might have to abandon this thread, because I really can't see what there is there to get worked up about. You're all usually fairly level headed, which makes me think you really are just seeing something I'm not. (Whether it's there or not is a whole other argument.)

#58 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 01:35 PM:

Larry: nothing wrong with Rush. :-) I have a particular soft spot for Grace Under Pressure (as long as you remove The Body Electric).

#59 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 01:37 PM:

It just occurred to me - maybe the reason that I don't have a problem with it is because, when talking about music and books and art and stuff, I generally mentally redefine 'good' and 'bad' to be 'stuff I like' and 'stuff I don't like'.

There are obvious exceptions where most people seem to agree - Crazy Frog, anyone? - but I find that it helps.

#60 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 01:41 PM:

I just watched the CBS-TV Sunday Morning show, with fascinating stories on the University of Texas museum/library, the sex life of lobsters, and Kenny Chesney, Country Music superstar. This last item is on-topic.

In a sense I grew up with Cowboy Music as part of my heritage, along with Broadway, Baroque & Classical, and 1940s/1950s American pop. I'm a great great grandnewphew of the immortal Lorenz Hart, a great-uncle of mine produced 2 of the top 3 radio shows in the country, my parents went to every major Broadway show, and my Dad had all these 78s of Cowboy songs, and told tales of his summers on an Arizona dude ranch.

So I have no problem with (although they are not on the top of my playlist) the original Country Music (as revived by the film "O Brother Where Art Thou"), Acuff & the Grand ol' Opry, Western Swing, Bill Monroe & Bluegrass, Honkytonk Music, the Nashville Sound, or the "oulaws" (Willy Nelson, Waylon, Johnny, and Merle, Charley Pride, Conway Twitty, The Outlaws, The Marshall Tucker Band, David Allan Coe, The Charlie Daniels Band). Hank Williams had lyrical and vocal genius. Loved Patsy Cline.

I had no problem with the early '80s convergence of this with mainstream pop, through such phenomena as John Travolta's "Urban Cowboy," and spurred on by Dolly Parton's movie "9 to 5." But that seemed to me to have opened the door to music as shallow and vapid as any pop, with none of the sincerity and grit of real Country, or the tragic voice of John Conlee. I couldn't see the point of Alabama or their wannabee imitators (Atlanta, Exile and Bandana, Restless Heart, Confederate Railroad, Desert Rose Band, the Kentucky HeadHunters). Except Reba McEntire, who sounds real.

And then I lost touch completely. With some exceptions -- such as Shania Twain (maybe because of clever videos) -- the field slammed shut for me with the rise of Garth Brooks, the most popular country music artist of all time, in terms of worldwide following, albums sold, and awards won, who alone has sold more than 60 million albums. I was lost when when the big money finally hit the scene. The music failed for me exactly when it reached its financial success.

Country became the most popular radio format in America, reaching 80 million adults, roughly 40 percent of the adult population in the USA.

I'm not knocking the "new traditionalists" (George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, the Judds, Randy Travis, and Ricky Van Shelton).

But just what is it that makes Garth a super-superstar? Or Kenny Chesney? My wife and I are baffled. We can't hear anything in the lyrics, the voices, the instrumentation, of any consequence. We can't see anything in the onstage choreography. We feel utterly alien-anthropologisty at seeing a packed football stadium go nuts over these guys.

The last time I tried was when "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus was some sort of media phenomenon, and people who never listed to Country before got excited, and line dancing caught on big time. I listened with what thought was an open mind. Nothing. No value at all in the banal lyrics and soft soft rock crossover sound. Nuthin'.

Maybe I'm too old, too urban, too something. I'm willing to admit that it's me, and not some Quantum Mechanics barrier to people in black imitation cowboy hats and drycleaned jeans.

And don't get me started on Rap.

#61 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 02:07 PM:

Do I really have to note once again that none of my reaction to the CT thread had to do with which particular music was and wasn't being dissed? Evidently I do. Once again: they could have been discussing Dixieland jazz or styles of interpretive dance for all the difference it would have made.

Anyway, this has mostly served to piss off a couple of people I like and confuse a lot of others. As I should have foreseen. Never mind.

#62 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 03:07 PM:

PAtrick, there is something worth discussing here -- maybe, though, another opportunity will arise that shows what you're talking about in ways that can be more easily pointed to.

Gosh, did I just catch myself hoping for some know-nothing proud-to-be-a-lunkhead boor to spout off about something again? I think I did. Oh well. No, wait, what I'm hoping for is that when the inevitable happens, and a know-nothing proud-to-be-a-lunkhead boor spouts off, they do it in such a way that it's easily used as an illustration.

Anyhow, it was clear to me that the type of music wasn't the point.

#63 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 03:16 PM:

Patrick,

I think most of us get that it wasn't the subject matter that got your goat, and most of those of us who get that have at least an idea what did, but if you would put it into words, it'd help.

#64 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 03:31 PM:

Geoffrey A. Landis comments:

"Modern country & western has little or nothing to do with the folk-rooted traditional music in 'Oh Brother Where Art Thou' (brilliant film)."

"Interestingly, modern country tends toward storytelling; unlike pretty much anything in the rest of popular music. Each song tends to be a
little short-story."

Of course, Patrick's declared that it wasn't the subject that twisted his panties, but I still felt like posting about my neo-twang-deafness.

I'd also commented, earlier, that pure distilled venomous ignorant negativity was a Bad Thing to inculcate.

My Dad used to ask me: "would you rather be right, or happy?"

#65 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 05:20 PM:

Dan, Mike,

I hope I'm not stepping on toes if I observe that there does seem to be a language barrier thing going on.

Dan said: Contempt for Pollack is pretty much in the same league with contempt for U2, and my patience for both is pretty thin.

Mike said: you hold contempt in so much higher regard than Pollack that you balked at comparing them?

To me, it reads as though Dan is saying his patience for the contempt has worn pretty thin, not his patience for either Pollack or U2.

But, you know, I don't really understand a lot of what you're both talking about so I've probably got this wrong. I'll stop butting in.

#66 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 05:32 PM:

Madeline, that's it exactly. Thank you.

#67 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 07:31 PM:

Patrick, am i correct in saying that it's the generalized snarking, rather than the actual opinions expressed, that you (and I) find offensive? It gives the reader nothing excpet attitude. Dave Luckett, on the other hand (to take one example), though I don't share his opinions on music [well, OK, I'm not exactly a huge Tull fan, though their first few, pre-Aqualung LPs are OK; and Iron Butterfly I think are generally pretty bad], is openly sharing his feelings and opinions in (mostly) a nonjudgmental way, so I don't find his post offensive. I like reading other people's opinions that are different from mine when they actually do something other than stand on the sidelines and smirk.

adamsj: //channeling Julie Burchill// No, you show your obvious hippie tendencies by advocating art-rock noodlers who are just the Grateful Dead and Big Brother & the Holding Co. with New Wave haircuts.//unchannel

#68 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 08:12 PM:

The thing that gets me about such threads as the CT one referenced here is the general sense of "Disliking X is a virtue." By all means, list your likes and dislikes, but acting as though not liking [insert popular pop artist here] somehow makes you more enlightened than the unwashed masses of [pop artist]-lovers can grate on one's nerves.

A related species of disgustversations involves the declaration of "I loved [music band] before they sold out" where the phrase "sold out" is actually used to mean "got discovered by the general populace so that those of us who liked them could no longer consider ourselves a privileged and exceptionally discerning minority." Now, I thought "sold out" really meant "has thrown out their artistic integrity in order to pander to others' tastes for the sake of record sales," and that it isn't the only way to become popular. But there are those who believe that popularity itself is a crime, a sin against good taste, a proof of iniquity. At that point, to these folks, it doesn't matter what the band is actually playing; the basis for liking or disliking them is how many other people like or dislike them. Strikes me as a silly reason to dislike a band.

#69 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 08:31 PM:

Thanks for catching the language barrier, Madeline.

Sorry, Dan. Declaring your contempt for contempt was confusing to me like a double-negative.

#70 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 08:52 PM:

Interestingly, modern country tends toward storytelling; unlike pretty much anything in the rest of popular music.

Except rap, of course. But I'm not supposed to get you started on that...

#71 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 09:19 PM:

That finally explains Robert Hunter. He's a country rap artist.

#72 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 10:09 PM:

Composer and singer (pop, Jazz, opera) Carmen Balas comments:

"When I was in Fresno, I tuned in to C&W stations, although Fresno is not the cow town it used to be. Wouldn't you know it, just when I thought it was safely dead and buried for good, somebody went and COVERED that whiny pukefest of the '90s, 'Achy Breaky Heart'! That's right, folks, somebody else recorded 'Achy Breaky Heart' and it's playing on C&W radio...at least in Fresno. The talentless, tone deaf wonder."

"'May he be captured by Midianite maniacs, that offspring of a squashed cockroach! (curse supplied by 'Biblical Curse Generator')."

#73 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 10:30 PM:

Rap isn't all bad. (I figure it's a genre like any other, and the quality will range from trite to trash to terribly brilliant. Sturgeon's Law again.)

I tend to think of the rap I like as spoken word poetry, which is possibly horribly snobbish of me but I continue to listen. Aesop Rock's Lucy is good. So's Circe from Ursula Rucker. Well written, well spoken both.

I will not even try to convert anyone here to soca.

#74 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 10:47 PM:

Jeremy Osner: I really don't know why I have an actual phobia about, well, some rock music. Not all of it, on further reflection, though I know I said that. I merely acutely dislike most of it, which is not the same thing. There is even some that is lightweight and silly enough to be mildly enjoyable. The aforementioned Rocky Horror Show, for example.

The elements that went into rock aren't by any means bad. Delta blues and (the original) gospel, plus work songs, that's genuine music. Bluegrass, dixie, swing, "primitive" jazz - no problems. Those last are not meant to be taken too seriously, of course. But something happened when they invented the amplifier.

Because part of it certainly is the volume. "If it's too loud, you're too old." Well, it is, and I am. Loud means "I'm invading your space, and there's not a thing you can do about it." That's aggression, ipso facto. Loud also signals rage, and it implies danger, and it requires raw power. Those things frighten me.

Part of it is the nihilism, the exultation in sheer mindlessness. There's violence there, and it's not too far away. It's overpowering, hypnotic. The kids used to tell me that you hear it in your gut.

Did they mean that the essential response to rock was emotional, not intellectual? I don't think so. That's way too complicated. They meant that this music is felt as ecstasy and rage.

I think they were right. Every time somebody tries to add some layer to rock music, to make it a little more complex, somewhat less dependent on volume and crushing power and visceral excitement, isn't there an immediate countering response? Isn't that response to glorify crudity, savagery, searing rage and berserk nihilism all over again, and to state - not in words, which are far too effete a medium, but in action - not only that those things are the essentials of rock music, but that all other elements detract.

I think that's true. And I think that's why much of rock music appalls and nauseates me.

#75 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 11:58 PM:

"[P]art of it certainly is the volume. 'If it's too loud, you're too old.' Well, it is, and I am. Loud means 'I'm invading your space, and there's not a thing you can do about it.' That's aggression, ipso facto. Loud also signals rage, and it implies danger, and it requires raw power. Those things frighten me.

"Part of it is the nihilism, the exultation in sheer mindlessness. There's violence there, and it's not too far away."

I am now so, so sorry I started this thread.

Yes, it's all about the nihilism. What I spent my weekend in the studio doing was "getting in Dave Luckett's face," and I glory in the fact that there's "not a thing he can do about it." Also, I'm all about "sheer mindlessness" and "violence...not too far away."

Christ on a crutch. With one gang of idiots, I'm a loser because I like some groups that are on the Index Nolongerhipatorius. With another, I'm the second coming of Beelzebub because I make with the evil, compelling jungle beat. Next: Harry Potter, satanist D&D, and Your Child's Brain. One way ot another I'm sure it's all my fucking fault.

#76 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 12:08 AM:

Just to clarify, I would like to ask Dave Luckett a simple question.

Why do you expect me to be the most tolerant and fair-minded person on the planet?

Would I go to your, I dunno, your weblog where you periodically talk about your enthusiasm for, let's say, woodworking (work with me here, this is an Imaginary Story), and post lengthy comments about how woodworking is all about "nihilism" and "exultation in sheer mindlessness"? And if I did, do you suppose onlookers would think I was smart for doing so?

What the fuck kind of reaction do you expect to get over this? Do you expect to be clapped on the back and heartily congratulated for the bracing honesty with which you express your utter contempt for the art I feel most vulnerable about doing? Are you thinking at all? What on earth is going through your brain?

#77 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 12:21 AM:

Dave, had it escaped your notice that Patrick plays guitar with a NYC bar band? It's the other thing he does for fun.

Robert, please reassure me that your tongue is in your cheek with that "hippie tendencies" business.

#78 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 01:13 AM:

I tend to think of the rap I like as spoken word poetry, which is possibly horribly snobbish of me but I continue to listen.

I think, if anything, it sells rap a bit short. Good rap is good music--no need for a special category.

#79 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 01:26 AM:

PNH - If I'm ever in NYC coincident with one of your Whisperado dates, I'll try my darndest to be there, even though you don't know me from Adam. (Except, of course, from my comments here.)

I enjoy bar bands. I had a co-worker who's got one that plays mostly 80's and 90's covers plus some original stuff, and I always enjoy their shows. I have nothing but admiration for people who find the time in their busy lives to make some music, for themselves and to make others happy.

#80 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 02:02 AM:

I feel like I just watched Dave Luckett walk into a bear trap, whose bait was "Tell us more about how you feel about rock music and why you think it makes you feel that way?"

Except I'm not sure that bear traps in fact get baited. Maybe they just get put invisibly in places where bears are known to roam all unsuspecting-like.

#81 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 02:23 AM:

Larry, I bet Patrick does know you from Adam. Adam is shorter and doesn't have a navel.

#82 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 02:29 AM:

But . . . but . . . the comparison of rap, at least some schools of it, to spoken word, isn't artificial or lessening or even revealing: there's a conscious, deliberate, family connection, through hip-hop and slam and a bunch of other stuff. I mean, there's nothing to argue about there at all. It's like somebody said, with surprise, that they noticed a similarity between Bartok's music and Gypsy fiddling.

`

#83 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 03:18 AM:

Of course. But, at the risk of quibbling, I don't think that what you're saying is quite what Sundre said. If somebody said "I tend to think of Bartok's music as Gypsy fiddling," I'd say they were selling Bartok a little short, too (and not because I don't like Gypsy fiddling).

But I didn't mean it to be a criticism; I just wanted to point out that there's plenty to like in rap from a purely musical point of view.

#84 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 03:25 AM:

I like some rap. But don't get me started.

#85 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 03:39 AM:

Upon consulting Google I've discovered that a musical pseudo-genre called "country rap" already exists, and it isn't exactly what I had in mind to describe Robert Hunter's music. "Folk rap" has also, apparently, been invented. This ruins the great thesis I was going to propound about how Hunter is a country rapper with crossover into folk rap, whereas Richard Thompson is a folk rapper with crossover into country rap.

BTW, the term of art that now refers to "hippie music" is "jam band," and there are a lot of good ones: Gov't Mule, Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, etc. As an unrepentent "hippie music" fan, I stand by the opinion that Donna The Buffalo is currently the greatest dance band/jam band on Earth. This is a great live show, but you have to know how to deal with Shorten files to listen to it. Here's a nice MP3 studio cut.

(Maybe this belongs over in the "deep water gills" Geek thread.)

#86 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 05:25 AM:

I'm really really sorry your point got lost here Patrick, because it's an important one. Saying to your pals, "Hey, let's all get mean and nasty and vicious together" is anti-civilization and we shouldn't be encouraging each other to do it. You're right and it's important and never mind the side coversations over there in the alcove.

Oh, and Sharyn, you are an evil and wicked woman.

MKK

#87 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 05:50 AM:

My Dad used to ask me: "would you rather be right, or happy?"

"...and now on this new Earth they've given me Africa to do, and of course I've done it all fjords again, because I happen to like them, and I'm old-fashioned enough to think that they give a lovely Baroque feel to a continent. And they tell me it's 'not equatorial enough.' Well! Science has achieved some wonderful things, of course, but I'd far rather be happy than right any day!"
"And are you happy?"
"No. That's where it all falls down, of course." -- Douglas Adams

#88 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 07:17 AM:

With one gang of idiots, I'm a loser because I like some groups that are on the Index Nolongerhipatorius.

Where exactly in the CT post are you seeing that?

#89 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 07:40 AM:

Yes, I am aware that Patrick played in a band, though I had no idea what style of music he played. "Whisperado" has resonances of cowboy music to me, and hardly evokes loudness. To the contrary.

Because what I was talking about was loudness. That's the thing I take to be threatening and frightening about rock.

What am I frightened of? Well, I experience extreme volumes of sound as threatening. Is that unjustifiable? In all truth, I don't think so. I also find very high volumes disorienting, destructive of connected thought. Am I unique in that? Again, I don't think so.

Of course I know that all music evokes, and should evoke, an emotional response. That is not the same thing as saying that it should destroy connected thought. Yet time and time again, people told me that was what rock was for. That was why it had to be loud. It had to sweep you away. You had to feel it viscerally, and its principal effects should be exhileration, disinhibition and sensory overload. (That's not how they put it, of course. I'm afraid the written word doesn't serve to give the means by which I received that understanding.)

But that's what I meant by nihilism. Reducing thought to nothing. I'm sorry, but I find that set of ideas frightening.

As for whether it's all Patrick's fault, or whether he's getting in my face by playing in a NY bar band as a hobby, obviously not. As Chico once said, when asked if the tenor he was acting as agent for had been heard in America yet, "Well, he's-a sing loud, but I no think he's-a sing that loud."

And no, I didn't expect to be clapped on the back. I'm glad to hear that you think it's honest, Patrick, and I agree an utterance can be honest, but not commendable or courteous. That was my mistake, for which I apologise. I did not mean to disparage your tastes or devalue your music by stating my own, and the perceptions by which they were formed.

#90 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 08:10 AM:

Jim, so when you let us know Patrick has the means to verify Larry's navel, are we talking x-ray vision or some off-airport frisking?

#91 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 10:52 AM:

comment on my Country Music posting from Julia Hart Post:

...Said with much more eloquence than the former generation who simply yelled at us through our bedroom doors over the din of The Beatles and The Stones, "Turn that crap down!!!!"

Music does not have to be deep, nor pay deference to the trailblazers before ... as long as it moves a soul.

#92 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 11:26 AM:

Tim: Yes, rap is music. And some of it is very, very good music. And some of it is very, very good poetry. I enjoy when it's both at once.

#93 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 12:32 PM:

Tim, I'm not talking about identities, I'm talking about family history.

Music has family history, that's all I want to say.

#94 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 12:50 PM:

Sounds as if we're all in violent agreement!

#95 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 03:42 PM:

Robert, please reassure me that your tongue is in your cheek with that "hippie tendencies" business.

Teresa, please note the "channeling Julie Burchill" that preceded my remark. Ms. Burchill, as I noted earlier, is co-author of The Boy Looked at Johnny, which allows as how only a very narrow range of music (certain punk-rock bands + token R&B) is worth anything, and everything else is shite. I think you know me well enough to know that I do not share this opinion. But adamsj is trying to pull my leg, and so I am responding as I imagine Ms. Burchill might. (Last I heard, Ms. B. was saying how Andrea Dworkin was the best contemporary American writer. [This was before Ms. D.'s recent passing.])

I actually enjoy reading Julie Burchill's writing (I have two of her later books as well), cringe as I do through most of it.

#96 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 05:59 PM:

Professor Philip Vos Fellman, Full Professor of International Business Strategy, Southern New Hampshire University, who also has a B.F.A., in Music from California Institute of the Arts, comments:

"There's a lot of non-musical 'music' out there."

I've mentioned him before as someone having written permission to write in a Zelazny universe, and who has some published Science Fiction (such as "Born on the Net" about prenatal education).

#97 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 08:09 PM:

One person's "non-musical 'music'" is another's Desert Island Disc.

#98 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 08:17 PM:

Robert L.:

True, but people keep driving their cars next to mine at stop lights, with megawatt amplifiers blasting what to me is "non-musical 'music'" until my windshield wobbles. I tend to crank up my Bach as high as it goes, but don't think I'm being heard.

I once had a neighbor call the police, claiming that I was playing my stereo too loud at dinnertime. The cop covertly listened outside my door first, then knocked and explained the circumstances. "Got the call," he said. "Had to investigate. Doesn't sound too loud to me. Eroica Symphony?"

I've also enjoyed some very loud live concerts by the Who, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe & the Fish, the Grateful Dead, the Voidoids, and the Dead Kennedys. But I started wearing earplugs to these events at least two decades ago.

#99 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 12:07 AM:

Our most annoying/embarrassing moment was when my daughter was practicing her bagpipes at home and a neighbor yelled out "Please turn down the stereo!"

She almost never practised at home after that, which was too bad for me, as I adore the bagpipes, especially when she played them.

#100 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 12:35 AM:

Dave L: Every time somebody tries to add some layer to rock music, to make it a little more complex, somewhat less dependent on volume and crushing power and visceral excitement, isn't there an immediate countering response?

My immediate counter is "Nonsense!". I've heard punk called the first reactive movement; before them you have at least a decade of rock moving in many directions less dependent on visceral excitement: art, complexity, maybe even disinvolvement. IMO, whoever gave you that list of key components of rock was leaving out a lot, both in what they claimed defined rock and in what they claimed was exclusive to rock; "volume and visceral excitement" are some of the reasons I still sing in two ~classical choruses.

Has it never occurred to you that the kids at that school were sending you up? I remember my years at prep school; my issues with the faculty weren't identical with my classmates', but there were times when what I most wanted was to pull some adult's chain hard enough that I could see him flush.

#101 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 04:50 AM:

CHip: So take pity on my ignorance. What defines rock music, and what is essential to it? Not necessarily exclusively. I'm well aware that Wagner and Tschaikovski and even Beethoven used the utmost volume of sound that their technology allowed - in places. So did Bach - he wrote a lot for organ, far and away the loudest musical instrument of his time.

I know - or I think I know - that one essential is a driving beat in a square rhythm, and a very strong bass section. Another seems to be volume. (I would be delighted to be instructed that that is not the case.) Another appears to be the decorated instrumental line imported from jazz, but not, it appears, extemporised, and carried on the lead instrument only. Still another might be the concentration on themes of rejection, abandonment, and anomie. I only say 'might be'.

Of course the kids were putting me on. Of course they were trying to boggle me. I'm not going only on what they said.

I rather thought grunge was another reaction to over-sophistication, and after that we had the garage band movement and industrial metal, both concentrating on simplification and raw power. Punk certainly was, inter alia, a rejection of complexity and technical musicianship - and of anything else perceived as effete. (Or, I would say, civilised. But that's going too far, no doubt.)

#102 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 10:10 AM:

One person's "non-musical 'music'" is another's Desert Island Disc.

Given my fascination with musical randomness and electro acoustic noises, most of what I've been listening for the last couple of years tend to be considered non-music by people around me. I'm lucky I have very nice and tolerant neighbours, cause I know places were I would have gotten killed for listening to, say, Alva Noto or Ryoji Ikeda's work 24 hour non-stop.
Truth is, I've gotten to the point where listening to natural random electro acoustic noises can hold me under a spell for hours (last time was a midnight empty train's buzzing dying neons in the subway).
[/other kind of Trivial and Self-obsessed moment ?]

To fall back on the original topic: what I find a bit saddening about that discussing habit (hey, I like the sound of that)is the way all of those indulging in the activity tend to feel superior to the criticised objects. It's not only how much they feel cooler for not liking them, but also the way they're debasing those works by considering them below some fluctuating non-defined imaginary standards. They're just "below", and thats' what matters in the end.
There's something ugly reeking behind.

That being said, apart from a couple of songs, and however I've tried, I still don't get the Beatles. -_^

#103 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 11:36 AM:

The Beatles Random Acoustic [bootleg] Album

If the rain comes
they run and hide their heads,
they might as well be dead
buzzing dying neons in the subway

Yellow matter custard
dripping from a dead dog's eye
buzzing dying neons in the subway

She said
I know what it's like to be dead.
I said
who put all those things in your hair,
things that make me feel that I'm mad?
I know what it's like to be dead,
buzzing dying neons in the subway

Timothy Leary's dead,
no, he's on the outside looking in.
Turn off your mind
relax and float down stream.
Lay down all thought
surrender to the void.
When ignorance and haste may mourn the dead,
buzzing dying neons in the subway

#104 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 01:53 PM:

Teresa, Robert L.,

He was most definitely yanking my chain, and I was a-yankin' back. But as to the hippie tendencies: Au contraire, spiky hair--the Patti Smith and Roxy Music comments are as per the text.

#105 ::: Pat Greene ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 01:54 PM:

Lucy --

Don't feel too bad about your daughter's bagpipes. The first weekend my son had his drum set, the police showed up at our door. We ended up in city-sponsored mediation, and now he is allowed to play his drums only once a day for an hour.

#106 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 02:09 PM:

Oh dear Pat, where do you live?

I don't understand the mentality that will put up with car alarms and leaf blowers and won't put up with music. We have a lot of that here: despite being a resort and college town, we've never been able to support a reasonable number of music venues because of the intolerance towards any sound spilling out -- even on a Saturday night, even downtown.

Yes, Santa Cruz is -- a prude town!

#107 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 05:34 PM:

Lucy, Pat,

It turns out I must be very lucky, judging by the things you're saying about irritated (and irritating) neighbours. I play the piano for several hours every day, frequently with all the doors and windows open and, instead of complaining, my neighbours pop round to say how much they like it!

Mind you, it's possible that they're used to music drifting down the street, since the local metropolitan silver band has a rehearsal room five doors down from me.

I'm sorry, Patrick, for being so wildly off-topic, but I thought I ought to redress the balance for all the lovely appreciative neighbours out there.

#108 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 06:41 PM:

What's a metropolitian silver band? Is it like a brass band, only all flutes?

-- I actually think this is related to the topic the thread started with -- something to do with organized contempt for culture and fun.

Our experience is really uneven: on the street where the marching band practises, most of the neighbors appreciate them. And when my daughter played for my parents, the neighbors gave her a standing ovation. (That's a vertical neighborhood in San Francisco)

I've always liked having musical neighbors, yes, even the ranchero-playing organist.

#109 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 08:04 PM:

Dave Luckett: there is no definition to rock music, at least nothing that everyone is going to agree upon. When you have a genre which spans Bon Jovi to Iron Maiden, with many variations in between, everything's up for grabs.

Note that not everyone would even agree with BJ or IM as the two ends of the spectrum - some would put it closer in, some further out.

Either way, whoever told you it was about power, volume, and losing your mind in the music was either having you on or listening to a different kind of rock music than I do. ;-)

#110 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 08:29 PM:

Dave L: Paul is right; I'd add that defining rock is rather like defining SF -- which our hosts have pointed out will always leave out interesting marginal cases. (I'd also have guessed "grunge" and "industrial metal" as coming after punk -- but see below about my period.) Just for starters, your suggested parameters exclude:
- most material from before the later 1960's (concentration on themes of rejection, abandonment, and anomie leaves out a lot of the Beatles (and the Beach Boys, briefly more popular than the Beatles in the UK), just for starters). Note Varley's argument that rock ended sometime in the 60's, although he doesn't say what he calls the successor.
- my personal favorite, Jefferson Airplane (a driving beat in a square rhythm -- they used 7/4 regularly, and I hear "She Has Funny Cars" as 14/8 or 15/8 depending on the phase of the moon. (This was not a studio piece -- the retrospective set Jefferson Airplane Loves You has a performance at the Fillmore West.)

I'm not anywhere near an expert even in the period when I was listening regularly (ending ~1972, when I realized I'd never be good enough playing electric bass but could get a jolt from singing third bass). I also realize that some of my affection is the connection with my growing up (even if I'd like to forget much of that period); your tastes may also have been forged then. (I wasn't exposed to jazz or big-band until my 20's and have little palate for them.) I don't know how to explain the music -- I don't believe that explanation spoils it, but if it could be expressed in words it wouldn't need to be music -- but your list sounds an extract of the ugliest facets with none of the joy.

#111 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 10:50 PM:

CHip: Quite so. The movements I mentioned were indeed later than punk, but like punk, consisted partly of a rejection of oversophistication and a return to foregrounding raw power and disinhibition. That is, your comment as to chronology is quite correct, but I was making the point that such rejections have happened not once, but a number of times, and illustrate, I think, a feature of the genre - that it cannot become more complex or more intellect-driven without losing its essential self.

Yes, I believe you're right in saying that one connects best with what one found while growing up, but I think that is one of the later stages in the process. One's tastes are formed, from what I can make out, not in childhood, but in adolescence. SF is one such, for me.

So why not rock music? It was all around me in the early 'sixties, at the same time as I was discovering SF. My parents didn't discourage my listening to anything I wanted to, and I had free run of their stereo system, and an allowance, and by the time I was sixteen, wages of my own to spend. Why did I regard the visit of the Beatles in 1964 (I think it was) with utter indifference, while my friends speculated furiously on whether they would be able to finesse a ticket? Why did the Stones and the Who fill me with revulsion? Why did it all seem so, well, as you put it, ugly?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is no accounting for tastes. Chacun a son gout. And so on.

But can we agree that music that exhibits the characteristics that you admit are ugly, is ugly?

#112 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2005, 11:01 PM:

Nope. Can't admit it. Rock's so wildly diverse that I can't imagine a musical taste that could find all of it alike distasteful.

#113 ::: tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 02:17 AM:

The cycle between complexity and simplicity is present in classical music, too. Furthermore, it's just the fashionable tip of the iceberg. There hasn't been a time since 1969 or so when you couldn't find rock music as complex as you please (unless you're a Ferneyhough fan, I guess) or as simple as you please.

Punk was just as much about constructive do-it-yourselfism as about "foregrounding raw power and disinhibition."

There's never been a time when more than a tiny fraction of rock was nihilistic. Gloom is more common than it used to be, now that electronica and hip-hop have become youth's party music of choice, but to me at least that's not the same thing at all. Was John Dowland nihilistic?

Genuine nihilism is pretty ugly (cf. G.G. Allin), but loud guitars and pounding drums are much more likely to be merely Dionysian. I can understand why someone wouldn't like them--I didn't, when I was a teenager--but I don't think that that dislike can bear the weight you're trying to give it.

#114 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 02:40 AM:

I have to delurk for this.

Dave, a fair amount of live shows do depend on volume, intensity and the players' ability to "rock" out to make a good show. And I speak as somebody who loves (some) shows like that; the noise can be obnoxious. I wear earplugs for a lot of live stuff. And then end up dancing to the band anyway; if they're good, it's worth the noise.

What you say reminds me of something Milan Kundera says, either in Testaments Betrayed or Immortality. Essentially he decries rock because it's all about the explosion, the orgasm really, with no subtlety or buildup or volume control. And there are bands like that, but there are a lot of bands not like that too. I grew up listening to classical and folk, and have started to dive into other genres only in the last six years--at least judging by my own experience, you're missing some amazing music by dismissing it all.

Are you into recorded stuff at all? Even bands that can do introspective, contemplative, complex recordings simplify it for live shows, so recordings are where it's at for real listening (although even that is an oversimplification). I can list off six bands without even thinking about it that have records that never thrash out even once, I promise.

That's only if you really want, though. God knows there's plenty of music to enjoy & explore without going past 1900.

#115 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 04:33 AM:

Lucy said: What's a metropolitian silver band? Is it like a brass band, only all flutes?

No, it's like a brass band, only all silver.

I actually think this is related to the topic the thread started with -- something to do with organized contempt for culture and fun.

It's possible that it's a generational thing. Nearly all my neighbours are pensioners. I wonder if they'd be as forgiving of my daily murders of Chopin, Mozart, Adams, etc if they were nearer to my age.

Contempt for culture and contempt for fun -- two very different things. I see contempt for culture as a kind of inverted snobbery, and contempt for fun as just plain snobbery. Can one feel both at the same time?

#116 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 04:37 AM:

Contempt for culture and contempt for fun -- two very different things. I see contempt for culture as a kind of inverted snobbery, and contempt for fun as just plain snobbery. Can one feel both at the same time?

I don't think they are so very different. I think they overlap a whole lot. But I think culture is fun.

Does it do something to the sound of the instruments to have them in silver instead of brass?

#117 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 04:48 AM:

For Mr Jonathan Vos Post (and others if they wish), as a thank for the bootleg and its odd first verse synchronicity. 0.655 seconds of a sampled buzzing dying neon (from my kitchen, not the subway sadly) reworked through a simple MAX machine.


Nope. Can't admit it. Rock's so wildly diverse that I can't imagine a musical taste that could find all of it alike distasteful.

Which leaves at least one implied solution: it's not the music but the social forms associated with it which are found distateful. Like, say, all those people not liking rap not because of the sound, but because of the image.
Not that you cannot hate (bad) rap with a passion for purely musical reasons...

#118 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 05:13 AM:

I don't think they are so very different. I think they overlap a whole lot. But I think culture is fun.

Okay. I'm expressing myself badly. How about this: I recently went to a concert given by the Liverpool Philharmonic, and I had a great time, enjoyed myself, and basically had fun. So you're right there -- culture and fun can overlap. But my sister's boyfriend would disagree, and think I was being very boring and old and tedious to be enjoying classical music -- he would think I wasn't having fun, but was instead indulging in 'culture', thus he would be displaying a kind of inverted snobbery because to him culture doesn't equate with fun.

Similarly, I was very down on Laserblast for a while -- thinking that people who wanted to run around in a darkened barn pretending to kill their friends and relatives were just uncouth and, frankly, stupid. But then I had a go at it, and it was a lot of fun. Turns out I was just a horrible snob.

Does it do something to the sound of the instruments to have them in silver instead of brass?

I don't think so. It's hard to tell, because they're not a particularly good band.

#119 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 11:25 AM:

Sorry: delurking after days of reading this thread to post a comment that is overly long.

I agree with Teresa. "Rock" is so many different things to so many different people--I can't imagine any statement about rock music's "essential characteristics" that could encompass the whole genre. For me, "rock music" includes David Bowie, U2, Sonic Youth, Bon Jovi, Guns and Roses, The Beatles, Patti Smith, The Buzzcocks, The Killers, Ratt, Elvis Presley, Van Halen, Jethro Tull, Queen, Lush, Garbage, and Billy Joel, The Who, Siouxie and the Banshees and Tina Turner, Oasis and Green Day...I could go on and on (add artists from your favorite rock sub-genres as you please).

Moreover, I absolutely cannot agree that music that expresses something I find ugly is ugly itself. I find ugly things within myself, frequently. I see ugly things within my fellow human beings. I feel hatred, desperation, helplessness, hopelessness, anguish, selfishness, lust, jealousy and despair. Sometimes I feel nihilistic. Sometimes I feel angry.

Sometimes the music I listen to, just like the art I like to look at and the books I like to read, tells a story that is ugly. Ugliness is as much a part of the human condition as beauty. Expressing emotion, even ugly emotion, in art is what humans do. Art helps us to understand and deal with the ugliness. Art helps us communicate why we feel ugly. Sometimes art just serves to help us let off steam. And sometimes, art that stands for something ugly can be very beautiful--and, for me, so much the better if the art in question has a good beat and I can dance to it.

And even then: I can't agree that rock music as a whole expresses ugly ideas or stands for ugly principles, by anyone's definition of "ugly". I'd lay odds that a substantial majority of even "rock" songs are probably about love, either lost or found. Even at its messiest, I can't call that ugly. Rock music is and can be about beauty, joy, anticipation, ecstasy, and divinity. Rock music is and can be about anything. It doesn't have a central message. It's not all loud.

I guess I just don't think it's plausible to try to state what a song or an album "stands for" or is meant to express without listening to it. And hey, I don't judge people based on their opinions about the music I like. If you want to avoid an entire "type" of music as a matter of general principle, that is your call. I just think, though, that you're missing out, and you're missing out based on false assumptions about the music itself.

#120 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 12:03 PM:

I don't know. I actually liked the Moody Blues, but it was explained to me that this was not rock, but soft-centre pap-pop - the instrumentation, but not the anger, the excitement, the hard cutting power of rock. It was, well, melodic. It had dynamic - it wasn't all the same volume. The words were actually important. I therefore didn't include it as rock music.

But if a thing cannot be described, cannot be limited, its elements cannot be stated, and its parameters - not defined, but, shall we say, indicated - then, what's the use of calling it anything at all?

#121 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 12:06 PM:

First of all, I had a bit of trouble getting past the original post. This is some of my favorite stuff they're talking about! I like U2 a great deal, loved the Beatles (especially Paul), and Pet Sounds is probably my second favorite album of all time. (Number 1 is Born to Run.) So my first thought was where the [expletive deleted] are these idiots coming from?

Then I realized that (a) none of them were probably even born in the 60s -- the comment about Jan and Dean seems to be a giveaway there; Brian Wilson co-wrote several of J&D's biggest hits ca. 1963* -- and (b) this is the baby-boom-bashing that many of the younger generation seem to think is the epitome of cool.

Which, as a Boomer (b. 1950) turns me right off to start with, even when they're not putting down my favorite bands.

But even worse, and I think -- correct me if I'm wrong -- what Patrick is referring to, is the nasty, snide, junior-high-lunchroom-clique level of discourse. "It's not our [music/art/whatever] so let's trash it." And then, for dessert, degenerating farther into "let's see who else we can diss while we're at it." Reverse snobbism at its backwardest. Not a single teeny-tiny attempt to try to figure out what people like about those things, or even explaining why they like other stuff better. (Though, obviously, I'm not the target audience for that blog.) No comprehension of, say, just how astoundingly different, refreshing, even radical, the Beatles and Beach Boys were, especially in the Pet Sounds/Sgt. Pepper era (1966-67), and how much pop music since owes to those guys. Just "ugh. And, oh yeah, [someone else] too. And [yet another person or group] for good measure}".

I remember trying to explain to my nephew once -- he's 19 now, but this was three or four years ago -- how the older generation usually thinks the younger generation's music is horrible. My Uncle Charley, for example, born shortly before the turn of the last century, and who died in 1966, never could understand what people liked about the Beatles. He loved ragtime, which was the hot pop music of his generation.

That attitude is bad enough, but now that I'm the elder generation myself, I find myself being that way. I don't like the music my nephew likes (rap and punk) but I give him gift certificates for what I still call the "record store" nonetheless. And I suspect that in forty years he'll hate the music kids then will listen to.

I don't even mind if people dislike other bands of their own generation. Some of my generation, including me, had trouble appreciating the Rolling Stones. They were ugly and sarcastic, sort of a negative version of the Beatles. (But the music rocked. I have to admit that.)

It's the reverse snobbism of trashing the elder generation's music that I don't get. I liked the ragtime and the other (classical, big band, Broadway) music my mom and my uncle loved. Especially Gershwin.

*Technically, not exactly co-wrote, but he sometimes, ca. 1963, gave a song, or a fragment of one, to Jan Berry, who then finished it or adapted it (e.g. the Beach Boys' "Catch a Wave" became Jan and Dean's "Sidewalk Surfing").

#122 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 12:12 PM:

"it's not the music but the social forms associated with it which are found distateful." That's a fairly insightful comment. Imagine substituting the audience from an grand opera premier and the audience from a Grateful Dead concert. Don't change the music, just the clothing, hairstyles, and ummm... perfumes. Think that it would affect your appreciation of the music?

"Rock music is and can be about beauty, joy, anticipation, ecstasy, and divinity." Absolutely. As can any genre of music. The lyrics can also matter -- Wasn't it Joni Mitchell who reacted to Bob Dylan's lyrics in a particular song "... whn I was down, you just stood there grinning..." by saying "Wow, you can write a song about ANYTHING!"

The interface between "ugly" and "beautiful" is fractal.

As to volume, the symphony orchestra and the chorus are, in part, an attempt to crank up the volume. Because of laws of Physics, doubling the number of voices or instruments does NOT double the volume. You need, say, 100 times as many instruments playing to be 10 times louder. This is because the sound is "incoherent" in the technical sense. So, to suggest that Rock is incoherent to a distateful extent, is partially a critique of the motives for the forte in Pianoforte.

On the other hand, I sympathized with my Dad when we heard a performance by my brother's Rhythm & Blues group The Planets, which had played in the Bitter End (where Dylan performed), Max's Kansas City, and opened for Kiss and the New York Dolls.

"All the songs are good, and I can tell that Binky and some of the others had Classical music training. But it was all equally loud. Can't you place, in between two loud numbers, a ballad, with brushes on the drums?"

And it was SO strange to talk to Sean Williams (I think he was the Aussie) at a Hugo Losers Party at a Worldcon, who expounded on Punk, siad he followed the scene in UK and US as well as Australia. So I mentioned The Planets, and he said -- "Oh yeah -- great lyrics, and Binky!"

#123 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 12:44 PM:

Dave,

Did you ever run across someone who claimed that books featuring FTL travel aren't really science fiction, but fantasy, because FTL travel is impossible?

That's about how seriously you should take someone who claims that the Moody Blues aren't rock.

#124 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 01:13 PM:

It was, well, melodic. It had dynamic - it wasn't all the same volume. The words were actually important. I therefore didn't include it as rock music.

Dave, I'm not saying you can't describe the genre. I'm suggesting that your descriptors are both over and under-inclusive, and come very close to defining rock music as "music that Dave Luckett doesn't like."

There are rock songs that have one or more of those qualities. But there are many, many more that don't--and if you take the position that songs with melody, that are not "all one volume" (although I'm not sure what that means--by instrument? by song on a given album? does that only apply when it's live?), or that have lyrics that matter are not rock, I submit that you will have defined out of the genre most of the standard bands music fans would include within the genre. In fact, you would probably end up with a definition that would exclude individual songs on one artist's album.

And that will be true even if you don't take the broadest possible definition of rock music.

Bands/musicians that have at some time or other recorded and/or performed songs with melody, and/or lyrics that mean something, which are not just recorded in "all one volume," include: Green Day, The Beatles, U2, David Bowie, Pavement, The Pixies, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, and Fleetwood Mac. And, I submit, The Moody Blues. A definition of rock music that didn't include any of those would be very, very narrow. I don't like all of those bands. Even with the bands I like, I don't like all of their songs. But they are all, I think, recording and performing "rock music."

Maybe, Dave, you just categorically dislike certain types of rock music. You never know. There could be bands out there making music that you've defined as rock music (and hence icky) that, given the chance, could change your life. Okay, I have to admit that I'm one of those people--"That album (book, painting, movie) changed my life!!!! Made me who I am today!!!!"--but still. You might be surprised.

#125 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 02:26 PM:

I just realized, as I surfed over to Crooked Timber, that I may never again be able to read that site's title without pronouncing the second word wrong. Thanks a lot!

#126 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 03:03 PM:

While punkrockhockeymom and Tim Walters made most of the points I would like to, Dave, I would also like to suggest that emphasising the trends that "drag rock back down to simple" over those that deliberately work in more complicated features is ignoring the actual nature of these two styles. The addition of melody, dynamic, and all that other complication to rock is a response to the oversimplification other bands do, as much as the oversimplification is a response to it.

*Both* parts of the curve are trying to make rock more like they want rock to be, and *neither* is more correct about whether they're true to the nature of rock than the other. If loud simple thrash were the true and only definition, there wouldn't be a cycle.

I'm an incurable Peter Gabriel fan who is closely related to a huge Progressive Rock fan. I'm mostly a folkie, and when I want simple music, I usually turn to certain kinds of folk instead of to rock or pop. The rock and pop I *like* most also always seems to veer towards the complicated edges, and so this is the side of rock I hear more often.

I do understand, too, that your initial commentary is purely an unpersuadable lizard-brain reaction, and for the kind of music you do not like, this is reaosnable. I just think you've been fooled by bad classic rock stations and too much emphasis on punk and grunge into using the wrong word for the stuff you don't like, and misunderstanding the nature of a genre whose definition is definitely one of the widest ones in all of music.

#127 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 04:06 PM:

Andrey Kulsha's Riemann zeta function audio files from Belarus.

"It was an old idea to represent the behaviour of Riemann zeta function on the critical line as audio signal. It seems to be the best way to encode the values of Riemann-Siegel Z(t) function as audio-samples. Recently I found that Robert Munafo already implemented this idea:

http://www.maths.ex.ac.uk/~mwatkins/zeta/munafo-zetasound.htm

But audio-clip given there appeared to be too far from real behaviour of Z(t), so I decided to make up a few another ones.
Since .mp3 format distorts the signal too much, I decided to use .wav format with 16-bit mono signal at sample rate of 8 kHz, the bitrate being 128 kbps. Such low sample rate require enough small speed of t to make all frequencies in Z(t) signal lower than 4 kHz. The speed of 0.25 per sample (i.e. 2000 per second) appeared to be optimal and suitable at least for t

#128 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 04:29 PM:

Dave: as other people have said, you're coming close to saying "I like it, therefore it can't be rock". ;-)

(I have no problem with you not wanting to listen to something, I just think you stand a very good chance on missing out on good music by avoiding a whole genre.)

One question I would ask - the person who was telling you this stuff (who I would heartily disagree with), which bands was he into? Was it, by any chance, groups such as Slipknot, Slayer, Sepultura...?

#129 ::: Jonahan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 05:20 PM:

The discussion of scales and modes leads me to offer:

Renaissance Banff 2005 Program Schedule
RENAISSANCE BANFF
BRIDGES
Mathematical Connections
in Art, Music, and Science
&
Coxeter Day

[see the hotlink also for some pretty pictures]

"The International Society of Art, Mathematics, and Architecture (ISAMA) conference and Bridges: Mathematical Connections Between Art, Music, and Science are inspiring forums which bring together people who love mathematics and art. A vibrant community meets annually to share ideas, show off new works, and recharge their inventive energies. To such people, art and mathematics is a single subject, a creative, intellectual, enriching, and worthy study of patterns and relationships in sensual form. Every mathematical topic, including chaos theory, non-Euclidean geometry, polynomials, and tangrams, and every form of art, including architecture, origami, pentatonic scales, poetry, and sundials, is welcome at these interdisciplinary gatherings...."

Example of past papers:

Haack, J. "The Mathematics of Steve Reich's Clapping Music." In Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science: Conference Proceedings, 1998 (Ed. R. Sarhangi), pp. 87-92.

"For the fourth year, the conference enjoyed the performances and commentary by Corey Cerovsek. A world class violinist, Cerovsek worked on doctoral degrees in music and in mathematics at Indiana University. He had completed coursework for both degrees by the age of eighteen. He performed after each of the three morning sessions and during several of the after dinner gatherings. On the final evening, Corey joined with mathematicians and musicians to play at the conference finale. He often played and then demonstrated and commented on the mathematical structure of the music he performed. Works by Bach and Barber were among the most popular selections."

#130 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 05:50 PM:

Varia, earlier today:
God knows there's plenty of music to enjoy & explore without going past 1900.

Let me just note that statement is true from either direction.


#131 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 07:14 PM:

Dave L: most of what I'd answer has already been said by other people, in more detail and probably more coherence. I think it's fair to take exception with your examples as an "immediate" (your word) counter to any trend away from headbanging pessimism; it's true that different styles have risen and fallen in popularity, but it's also true that styles have coexisted -- sometimes in a conversation, sometimes not. This is not surprising, considering that the most saccharine country music coexists (at least in the U.S.) with the bleakest ]goth[; tastes vary. It's useful to remember that rock is a sufficiently popular form that a lot of money gathers around it, which means that a lot of people make a living by claiming to have the key to the One True variant; IMO, these people, like those who exclude large parts of the field from consideration, should be taken as having about as much individual accuracy as each blind man with his bit of elephant.

#132 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 11:34 PM:

I am answered. Yes, a, well, here's that word again, visceral loathing of a certain style of music is indeed "an unpersuadable lizard-brain reaction". I knew that, mind you. I was the one who called it "phobic", right off.

Clearly, I need to narrow and define my terms more closely.

How about this?: Consistently very loud music, foregrounding a heavy bass beat, but with the whole at so extreme a volume as to overwhelm thought, is a genre that I loathe, because I have what feels to me like an instinctive, rather than a learned, aversion to such levels of sound, an aversion that is rooted in fear. Although that reaction is not strictly justifiable on purely rational grounds, I submit that it is understandable. A powerful bass pulse is menacing, on a level below thought. A scream is evocative of fear and agony.

Although I accept your several instructions that rock music is much more widely defined than that, (if it can be defined at all) I note that any live performance invariably can be heard streets away unless special measures are taken. When the local pub - about 800 metres away - has a band, I hear it clearly, at least its bass line.

I submit that it has been conceded that the fans who attend rock concerts demand volume, whatever the band might do in its studio. I further submit that if old rockers have a general characteristic, it is that, like old gunners, they're hard of hearing.

I submit that a rock concert is called "a rage", and that one goes out raging. That a violinist may be jocularly called a gypsy, but a rock singer is called a shouter, and a lead guitarist is called a gunslinger, and that what he does is called thrashing. Perhaps I am wrong in finding those facts suggestive.

#133 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 12:39 AM:

instinctive, rather than a learned, aversion

How do you feel about roller coasters? Bungee jumping? Extremely spicy food?

Overcoming instinctive aversions can be fun.

#134 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 03:49 AM:

When my son was a young teenager and had just discovered The Dead Kennedys and I had to reluctantly limit the volume at which he played it he made some remark about the older generation not "getting" punk, and I had to point out that Jello Biafra is closer to my age than his.

My kids like lots of good music, of which there's quite a lot which I can't really wrap my ears in. And then there's a lot I can. It's not a capital issue. Really.

Actually, the only issue I can think of where it gets annoying is that my daughter prefers the Real Mackenzie's "Macpherson's Rant" over the "Macpherson's Lament" that I know and love, and she will sing along with me but sing those inferior lyrics just to express her preference.

#135 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 04:54 AM:

"A powerful bass pulse is menacing, on a level below thought."

Been wanting to do one of those for some time. ^_^"

Anyway, bass is good. That repulsion has to go !

(if you wish so, of course...)

#136 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 05:27 AM:

Dave L: Your last paragraph is, um, not what I (as a former(-ish) metalhead) has understood. Mind, I'm living way off on the outskirts of "standard" rock music geography, but not too far from the center of the darker strains (black, doom and death metal).

And as for the "powerful bass pulse [being] menacing, on a level below thought", well. When I go to listen and dance to trance music, that's certainly not my experience. I experience the bass on, as you put it, a level below thought, but it's certainly not menacing. I do try to lose myself for a while in the music, though.

#137 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 06:11 AM:

Dave: you may not be wrong in finding it suggestive, but I don't think they're facts. Certainly they're not terms that I've heard used in relation to bands and concerts.

The only exception is 'thrashing', which I have heard used for a particular style of guitar playing used for thrash metal. This definitely makes it more likely that whoever was telling you this stuff was heavily into thrash metal, from the sounds of it to the extent of denying anything else was "real rock".

(Or they were taking the piss.)

Thrash metal does indeed have a lot of the characteristics you've been describing; it's not something I listen to myself, simply because I don't like it much. I prefer something where I can find the melody. ;-) However, it's a particular subgenre of heavy metal, and is quite a long way away from "standard" rock (if there is such a beast).

None of which interferes with the fact that if you don't like it, nobody's going to tell you that you must do. I think it was the assertion that all rock is like that which prompted the debate.

#138 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 08:37 AM:

Lucy --

I have seen two sober respectable pipe majors nearly come to blows over whether to play that tune as a march or not. (The traditional heuristic, based on circumstances, wasn't up to handling 'Battle of the Atlantic Day', that being both the celebration of a victory and a commemoration of the dead.)

#139 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 10:04 AM:

At the risk of conveying too much personal information, may I suggest that some humans (and other primates) find other reasons to make scream-ish or deep, rhythmic noises than fear or agony?

Also, do people really call it "raging"? I've never heard that. Ever, in regards to any genre Nor have I ever referred to a lead singer as a "shouter," nor heard anyone else say that; nor a "gunslinger." If these terms are in use in rock, it's certainly not across all branches of rock at all times -- in fact, I'd roll my eyes at someone who said, "Man, what a great gunslinger!" at a concert. Sure, buddy, a gunslinger, I'd think. You are so awesome, duuuuude. Honestly.

And grunge lyrics are not at all universally irrelevant, nor universally stupid. Simplification in music does not always mean dumbing it down. Witness the shift from the Baroque to the Classical era in western instrumental music. Nor is "simplification" of rock always directed in the "loud" direction.

I'm not sure who's told you this stuff or why, Dave, but it's extremely skewed to say the least.

#140 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 11:04 AM:

I submit that a rock concert is called "a rage", and that one goes out raging. That a violinist may be jocularly called a gypsy, but a rock singer is called a shouter, and a lead guitarist is called a gunslinger, and that what he does is called thrashing. Perhaps I am wrong in finding those facts suggestive.

I submit that no rock concert in history has ever been referred to as "a rage", nor does one go "out raging" even when attending a rage, which is a dance party; that I have never heard a singer of any type called a "shouter", nor any guitarist called a "gunslinger"; that (as Paul commented) "thrash" is a particular style or sub-genre, and that even when discussing that style the verb form "thrashing" is likely to be awkward and not in common use.

In other words, Dave, I've never heard any of the terms you find so suggestive. That's not to say that no one uses them in the manner you describe, but such usage is far from common.

#141 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 12:00 PM:

I think I've heard "out raging" to describe a heavy night out in town, but infrequently even then.

I thought a 'dance party' was a rave...?

Gunslinger and shouter, nope, never.

#142 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 12:05 PM:

As to concerts, well, I've been literally everyhere possible in the mainstage seating area, including backstage, at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Trust me: sit in the wrong place, and you could get blown away by the bass and the volume on one teeny woman with a guitar. You're associating concert dynamics with studio volume.

#143 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 12:06 PM:

Like the others who've commented, I've never heard a rock concert called a "rage". Could you be thinking of "rave", maybe? Raves do tend to be high-volume events (much too loud for me to enjoy, in fact), but they're not generally angry or hostile things.

#144 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 12:14 PM:

I submit that a rock concert is called "a rage", and that one goes out raging. That a violinist may be jocularly called a gypsy, but a rock singer is called a shouter, and a lead guitarist is called a gunslinger, and that what he does is called thrashing. Perhaps I am wrong in finding those facts suggestive.

That's almost all news to me, Dave.

I've heard the term "rave" used frequently to describe after-hours dance parties (usually with a connotation of illicit drug use and a frisson of naughtiness akin to that of the speakeasies) which often play various decendants of rock... perhaps this is where you picked up the term?

I have never heard the term "shouter" used in this context, though I have heard the term "gunslinger" applied jocularly to guitar players. My understanding that "thrashing" is a specific form of guitar play, and not a general term. I have not yet learned what differentiates "thrashing" from "shredding", as it hasn't been a high-priority research item.

From the above, I would conclude that you would indeed be wrong in finding those facts suggestive.

Now, I like my rock. I even like it loud on occasion (within reason... I enjoy receiving noise complaints even less than having to lodge them) and have for over two decades. (Slow starter.) I still have quite acute hearing, which is a job requirement of mine. My parents' neighbour who played trumpet in swing bands and the occasional orchestra, unfortunately, does not share that pleasure... so deafness is not necessarily a hallmark of rock fandom.

If you don't like rock, fine. That's your taste. However, I'll ask that you don't make sweeping generalisations based upon that taste.

#145 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 12:44 PM:

afa "shouter", I have heard the act of singing blues described as shouting or hollering the blues; but I don't think I've ever heard that as a noun, a blues "shouter" or "hollerer". Or heard it wrt rock.

#146 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 02:37 PM:

“Do Not Go Thrashing into That Good Night”
Bob Dylan Thomas & Jonathan Vos Post


Do not go thrashing into that good night,

Old age should burn in raves at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know rock is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go thrashing into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their gypsy might have danced in a Green Day,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Gunslingers caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go thrashing into that good night.


Shouters, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my blogger, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce ears, I pray.

Do not go thrashing into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

#147 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 03:27 PM:

Well, let's see.

So far we have sennoma telling me that 'no rock concert in history has ever been referred to as "a rage", nor does one go "out raging" even when attending a rage, which is a dance party'. That's pretty conclusive.

But Paul, although he also doubted that what I said was factual, adds 'I think I've heard "out raging" to describe a heavy night out in town, but infrequently even then.' Perhaps, then, it's possible that I might have heard the term in a slightly different, but related, sense. I can only say I have heard it in that sense.

Paul also advises that a 'rave' (not 'rage', pace sennoma) is a dance party, Anton P Nym gives a closer definition of that term consistent with what I've heard, too, and Lexica confirms that raves are 'high-volume events'.

I'd forgotten 'rave'. If I'd remembered it, I'd have given it as another example of terms associated with this music. That is, the word 'rave' used in that sense reinforces, not weakens, my point.

Jeremy Osner says that he's heard the term "shouting" applied to the blues, but never to rock music, and not applied as a noun to one who sings in any style. Again, may I suggest that usage may vary? There is far more reason to call a lead singer in a genre that uses very high volumes a 'shouter' than one who sings the blues, and the term may have transferred. I have heard it so used, though on reflection it may now be obsolete. That could well be the case, if it was originally imported from blues.

Mris tells me (s)he's never heard any guitarist called a "gunslinger", but then Anton P Nym advises that he has heard it. I rest on that.

There also seems to be general agreement that "thrashing" (or "shredding") are terms associated with at least some styles of guitar playing, and that these styles are found in some of the music that I was describing, which is all that is needed for my point.

It seems to me, then, that we have some confirmation of most of what I was saying.

Anton adds: "However, I'll ask that you don't make sweeping generalisations based upon that taste."

Oh? What sweeping generalisations are those? That I loathe the music that I defined, above, in the post you were answering, because I find very high volumes of sound threatening and frightening? That appears to me to be a statement of taste, and clearly specific.

Perhaps it is a generalisation to state that rock concerts are very loud, but I don't think that it's all that wrong, all the same. It certainly is not a generalisation to state that I can hear the local pub band more than half a click away. From this it might be a generalisation to say that rock fans demand volume, but again, I don't think it's so very far out of the way.


#148 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 03:44 PM:

Dave, I don't think the evidence you're citing there comes anywhere near proving your point. Why say you don't like rock music? Just say you don't like ultra-loud thrash metal. Or even ultra-loud anything. I can respect that, I love my eardrums too and want to get many years' enjoyment out of them. The point everyone is making is that that's not all--or even a majority, I'd say--of what the broad, sprawling, nigh-onto-useless-as-a-category term "rock" means.

I have to vote with the people who have never heard rage, gunslinger, or shouter applied to live music even once, and I have more respect for my own experience than I do for yours. Live music (and my band might be conceivably be called rock, should you wish to do so) is what I do, on a regular basis.

But even were I willing to concede these arguments, which is a mighty big if, you never addressed one big point that's been here, which is whether you like recorded rock at all.

And if you don't, if you've never even tried, you're missing out on a lot, is all.

#149 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 03:49 PM:

Just to clarify - by "heavy night out in town", I meant frequenting many establishments which serve alcohol and purchasing a large assortment of drinks, rather than anything else.

Your pouncing on "rave" is unfortunate, because it's associated with a complete different genre... ;-)

#150 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 04:01 PM:

Dave Luckett:

Let's try an experiment.

"Blackbird" is one of the Beatles songs (Lennon/McCartney) which I suspect you cannot hate, although might not actually like. But who knows? Would you be willing to have someone play it for you from their preferred medium?

The simple, elliptical, poetic lyrics seem positive, poetic, and rage-free. Paul McCartney reportedly wrote this as an attempt to provide a healing mesage about the civil rights struggle for blacks after reading about race riots in the US.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of dark black night.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

It is recorded with very spare instrumentation (only 3 things were recorded: Paul's voice, his acoustic guitar, and his tapping foot. Birds were dubbed in later), gently sung by Paul, and has that quasibirdlike whistle segment.
It was Recorded 6/11/68, Mixed 6/11/68 and 10/13/68, is only 2:18 in length, and was the
32nd take. I think they got it just right.

Paul took the song very seriously. "Blackbird Singing" is the title of a book of poems that Sir Paul wrote. It was one of only 5 Beatles songs that McCartney performed on his 1976 Wings Over America tour. Brad Mehldau recorded an instrumental jazz version [1997]. In 2002, The Doves covered this on the soundtrack to the TV show Roswell.

Source for above facts.

Yet I insist that it is Rock & Roll, being by a Beatle, on a key Beatles album (i.e. Right at the very start on the White Album), with a steady beat, and leading in to more unambiguous Rock songs.

Please try my constructive experiment. I think you might think something like "Well, that wasn't very deep, musically, but it wasn't awful. In fact, because it was relatively nice, I don't think that it was really Rock."

If so, that would be like a critic who disparages Science Fiction, on reading a novel he/she likes, saying "Oh well, then, it's not realy Science Fiction."

But do please let me know what you think. I valuebthe empirical method, and you are no fool, although several people here have made ad hominem attacks n you (or a least your misinformed informant).

#151 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 06:17 PM:

Dave Luckett: "I don't know. I actually liked the Moody Blues, but it was explained to me that this was not rock, but soft-centre pap-pop - the instrumentation, but not the anger, the excitement, the hard cutting power of rock. It was, well, melodic. It had dynamic - it wasn't all the same volume. The words were actually important. I therefore didn't include it as rock music."

Dave, I have trouble hearing that as anything other than a variant of "That can't be science fiction; it's too good." There are vast expanses of rock that are melodic, have dynamic variation and complex structure, and have lyrics that matter. If you don't know that, either you haven't been listening, or you hang out with people who habitually turn the volume up to 11, or you need a new stereo system.

"I am answered. Yes, a, well, here's that word again, visceral loathing of a certain style of music is indeed "an unpersuadable lizard-brain reaction". I knew that, mind you. I was the one who called it "phobic", right off."

I think you have a major flinch reaction going, but rock music is not your problem. Here's my number-one question for you: can you listen to Benny Goodman recordings c. 1930-1938?

"Clearly, I need to narrow and define my terms more closely.

How about this?: Consistently very loud music, foregrounding a heavy bass beat, but with the whole at so extreme a volume as to overwhelm thought, ..."

Who does that? I've seen bands that overwhelm my pain tolerance, but never ones that overwhelm my ability to think. I have very, very fond memories of being physically able to feel, in my sternum, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Phil Lesh.

"...is a genre..."

Is not a genre. Has never been a genre. Hardcore punk and speedmetal and some other forms are fond of loud, but that's not what actually distinguishes them from rock in general.

"...that I loathe, because I have what feels to me like an instinctive, rather than a learned, aversion to such levels of sound, an aversion that is rooted in fear. ..."

If all rock scares you but Beethoven doesn't; if you can sit through a thunderstorm, a fireworks display, or a fully equipped movie theatre showing Star Wars, or hang out in the vicinity of a large two-stroke engine, it's not just the sound you fear, and it's not an instinctive reaction.

"Although that reaction is not strictly justifiable on purely rational grounds, I submit that it is understandable."

If you're older than a pup, it's at minimum a phobia.

"A powerful bass pulse is menacing, on a level below thought. A scream is evocative of fear and agony."

Okay, here I have to flat-out disagree with you. Neither of those emotional reactions are built into those sounds.

A strong bass line can be emotionally neutral, the abstract structural support upon which the rest of the music is built. It can lay down the main harmonies in the song, or play counterpoint to them. It can be bouncy and playful, or stretched out and lazy, or suggestive as hell.

Screams can sound like a lot of things, and can occur in many contexts. Can they sound like fear and agony? Sure. They can also sound like exaltation, anger, resolution, the imperative tense, pure sexual bliss, or the human voice used as an abstract instrument.

God sneaks in there too, sometimes.

Furthermore, heavy bass lines and screaming vocals aren't specific to rock and roll. Even more furthermore, there are rock bands that never scream.

"Although I accept your several instructions that rock music is much more widely defined than that, (if it can be defined at all) I note that any live performance invariably can be heard streets away unless special measures are taken."

Nope. I know for a fact that that's not true, and I'm good at picking up music at a distance. Just ask Patrick.

"When the local pub - about 800 metres away - has a band, I hear it clearly, at least its bass line."

Bass lines carry, whatever the musical form. That's not a characteristic limited to rock. Thunder carries too. So does the sound of cannon fire.

"I submit that it has been conceded that the fans who attend rock concerts demand volume, whatever the band might do in its studio. I further submit that if old rockers have a general characteristic, it is that, like old gunners, they're hard of hearing."

Loud sounds in an enclosed space. What's that got to do with the music?

"I submit that a rock concert is called "a rage", and that one goes out raging."

Your submission is not accepted. Never heard the word. Doesn't match my experience, either. How many rock concerts have you attended?

Dave, can't you hear yourself? The anger and threats and physical danger are all things you're bringing to the interaction. I don't think you dislike rock music. I think you're afraid of the rough trade you imagine playing and listening to it.

By the way, Pete Townshend has worked as an editor at Faber & Faber.

"That a violinist may be jocularly called a gypsy, but a rock singer is called a shouter, and a lead guitarist is called a gunslinger, and that what he does is called thrashing. Perhaps I am wrong in finding those facts suggestive."

Those words are all news to me, and I live with a sometimes lead guitarist. Their suggestiveness is, once again, something you brought with you to the table.

#152 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 06:33 PM:

Could Dave Luckett have mistaken the word 'rave' - which isn't rock music either, but never mind - for the word 'rage'?

#153 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 07:19 PM:

I think you're afraid of the rough trade you imagine playing and listening to it.

The ironic thing about that, I think, is that in my experience bars where rock music is played (and with a certain goth component) are generally friendlier than the ones with the latest dance music and everyone in shirts. People understand that bumping into someone happens, and don't mind unless you're behaving like a real lunatic. ;-) They also generally seem more willing to chat.

Those words are all news to me, and I live with a sometimes lead guitarist.

Forgot to ask - are there any recordings up on the web for us to listen to?

#154 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 08:22 PM:

Dave -- if your recent experience is limited to one pub, you shouldn't take it as exemplary; locals are local by nature, and are small enough to specialize.

To emphasize what others have pointed out: bass carries in all directions, while treble doesn't; this was a source of embarassment for the designer when the Kennedy Center symphony space opened, because some of the seats missed some of the music through not having a full view of the stage. (Not easy in a standard symphony hall -- don't know how they did it.) And many venue engineers believe that massive bass is required; cf the argument in Gossamer Axe, where a heavy-metal lead guitarist ]explains[ that the bass is already at the level the band wants.

JvP: I'm not sure that's a good example. Some people argue that Paul was deliberately floating over to folk on the White Album (cf also "Rocky Raccoon"), just as others deliberately cross the boundary; Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitarist for the acid-rock Jefferson Airplane) did "San Francisco Bay Blues" straight on their reunion tour (as opposed to the acidic "Good Shepherd" on Volunteers).

back to Dave, recalling a link from a few weeks ago: see if you can find a copy of "I Feel Fine". Then see if you can tell us with a straight face that it has any of the parameters you've given for music-you-hate -- because only the sort of snobs and put-down artists that caused this thread would claim it isn't rock.

#155 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 08:37 PM:

Problem is I still don't get what it is Dave Lucket do not like in rock music.

Heavy bass-lines ? When do they become too heavy ? What about reggae and dub ? drum'n'bass ? (and then jungle?) Funk? Jazz ? Dance music ? Electronic and experimental ?
Would he like Massive Attack's Protection, but not Mezzanine, nor Leftfield's Rythm & Stealth (being famous for causing structural damage to Brixton via bassbins won't help) ? Certainly not Dillija's Cybotron, but what about Roni Size's New Forms, or LTJ Bukem ? Sly & Robbie ? King Tubby, but not Mad Professor ?

Is it a certain quality of sound (I know I can't listen to a lot of music from the 70s because I find the unfiltered sound of the drum machines repulsive) ? But surely that sound/texture would be overlaping in a lot of genres...

Can't be too high volume, he seems to like opera, and opera isn't exactcly a quiet, subdued genre.

Agression through sound; the feeling of having one's space, one's right to quiet (if such a thing exist) violated ? But then what about live jazz (having lived near the New Morning in Paris, I can vouch for it, rarely does a good modern jazz band produce less noise than a rock band) ? What about quiet but invading sounds ?

Let's propose this again: the relation between the music and the social forms associated with it ?
Something unrelated to the actual music, a complex construct of bad memories built upon/around that focus point ?

I would love to try a listening experiment to know how he'd react upon listening to, say, Aphex Twin's Come to Daddy or Vordhosbn , Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto's Vrioon, Anything by Merzbow, King Crimson's Fracture, Screamin Jay Hawkins, Victor Wooten, Matmos, Keiji Haino, the Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Aoki Takamasa, FSOL, Max Richter, some Prodigy...
But then some of it would probably border on torure.

#156 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 08:58 PM:

By the way, Pete Townshend has worked as an editor at Faber & Faber.

And you know that book Living with Books? The one with pictures of various celebrities' libraries and interviews with said celebrities? Keith Richards was one of the celebrities featured.

MKK--I love rock-n-roll so put another dime in the jukebox baby

#157 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 09:24 PM:

Matmos

I doubt that A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure is the best album to play for someone concerned about the social value of contemporary music. For those who don't know, many of its tracks are composed entirely of sounds recorded during surgery. It's surprisingly perky.

My friend antimatter made a CD with lots of subsonics. It's quite unsettling until you get used to it. I don't find it hard to imagine that someone would feel the same way about the more common forms of heavy bass.

#158 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 11:16 PM:

I give up. Rock music isn't loud, after all. I can't imagine where I gained that impression. And anyway, I have no right to dislike loudness.

Forget I ever spoke.

#159 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2005, 11:32 PM:

Dave Luckett:

Eh? Speak up. I can hardly hear you.

Seriously, I believe you to to be sincere, but misled. Tastes differ.

As the Secretary of Euterpe Opera Theatre for a decade and a half, I have seen a broad spectrum of differing taste in Pop music among Classical, Baroque, and New Music afficianados.

Once, while an undergraduate, I rented an apartment which had a shared bathroom and a shared kitchen. I had an hour-long enthusiastic conversation with the adjacent tenant about the mysterious effects of music on emotion. Suddenly, there were some verbal confusions, and we realized that I'd meant Classical Music and he'd meant Rock & Roll. But, I say again, a full hour of agreement. Shows to go you.

#160 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 12:19 AM:

Graydon, I spent my morning bath experimenting with Macpherson, siunging it slow and fast and with variations on the rhythm, and I don't know which of the pipe majors to back.

I gather pipe majors are a mercurial sort -- certainly the director of the local pipe and drum corps is (he'd not a pipe major because the corps is not organized like a pipe band with a pipe major, and most prominently, it doesn't compete, it only performs, though piers from it do compete)

#161 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 12:20 AM:

From slashdot this evening:

"Beethoven rules the downloads charts! jd writes 'At 1.4 million downloads, Beethoven has beaten the Beatles in online downloads, according to The Guardian. iTunes sales of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" comes in at a mere 20,000. The BBC, who put the symphonies on their download site, are delighted. The music industry, which thought classical music was all but dead, is in shock. About the only question remaining is how much did the Slashdot Effect contribute?' And if the Beatles are 'more popular than Jesus,' this Beethoven guy must be really popular!"

#162 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 04:56 AM:

I just checked the iTunes Music Store, and if they have "Sgt. Pepper's" or indeed any other Beatles song, I couldn't find it.

#163 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 06:18 AM:

Dave: I think we're obviously not explaining ourselves very well here...

The reason you're hitting problems is because you keep trying to treat "rock" as one entity, when it's no such thing. Some rock is loud, some is quiet, some involves heavy guitars, some doesn't, some just involves shouting, some involves lyrics as complex as any other style, and so on. It's a huge, sprawling category, and there are very few (no?) generalisations that will apply to all of it.

To put it another way, it's like trying to say that all symphonies contain loud strings, purely because of Beethoven's 5th.

David Goldfarb: I haven't checked, but it could be that they're available in some countries but not others. (Which would render the whole Slashdot article pointless anyway, but that's nothing new. ;-)

#164 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 07:53 AM:

How many countries are iTunes available in now?

I believe they aren't in Australia -- there was a rumour earlier this year, but it didn't turn out.

So any popularity would have to be defined as in what markets.

#165 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 09:25 AM:

In the spirit of fairness, Bo Diddley's a gunslinger. I'm not sure that means his guitar.

#166 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 09:46 AM:

Calm down, Dave. That's not what we're saying.

Some people are more sensitive to volume than others. I went to a Magnetic Fields concert a few months ago where the audience was instructed to snap their fingers instead of applauding after numbers. Stephin Merritt seriously dislikes loud noise.

Do you, have you ever listened to Benny Goodman? That was meant as a diagnostic question. I'm still interested in pursuing it. Also, how do you respond to rap?

May I propose a distinction between a style of music and some of the venues in which it may be played? Rock is massively popular, and the world is full of less-than-thoughtful persons who like having loud music playing all the time. Odds are, the recordings they're going to play will be rock. If Swiss polkas were as popular as rock, they'd be playing those instead.

Another diagnostic question: do you need silence, or music that doesn't have lyrics, in order to write?

#167 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 10:46 AM:

David Goldfarb:

Well, a comment on slashdot:

Worth to note (Score:2)
by HishamMuhammad (553916) on Thursday July 21, @09:34PM (#13131206)
(http://www.livejournal.com/users/hisham)
That it was a Beatles song, it was not a Beatles track. It's Paul McCartney and U2, doing a Beatles cover. Compare with the actual downloads of the Beatles catalog (if it's in iTMS, I don't know since I don't use it) and then we'll talk.

#168 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 11:26 AM:

Lucy --

Much of the problem that time was that neither pipey could really decide which to back, either.

There are clear times to play the thing as a lament, particularly for someone of clear parts and strong character who is dead untimely; there are clear times to play the thing as a march, particularly in circumstances where there are many marching off to do some equivalent of making bricks with no straw whilst riding unicycles.

If that breaks down, it collapses into a matter of mood and subtext and sense of history, which is always touchy.

My experience of pipe majors is that they're all a little mad, but that they're not necessarily mercurial. (The "a little mad" presumably comes from getting twelve or sixteen stands of pipes to be in tune with each other.)

#169 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 11:42 AM:

Dave L:

Folks upthread are definitely right, "rave" is the usual for a dance party. My bad.

Although --

we have sennoma telling me that

Be fair. I "submitted" that, taking my tone from your own post, and included a caveat about common vs uncommon usage. It seems to me that for your point to hold, that is, for it to be possible to infer much of anything about the underlying psychology of rock music from its jargon, we would have to be analysing commonly used terms.

#170 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 11:54 AM:

On the other hand, it's a relief to have Rock 'n' Roll criticized, for a change, on grounds other than sex, drugs, satanism, and get a haircut.

And if you play Rap backwards, it makes paR.

#171 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 11:56 AM:

Teresa: Goodman's "The Golden Wedding" is one of my all-time favourite pieces, sheer exhileration, and good-humoured. I play primitive clarinet myself, and I don't know how he does it, but I have some faint idea of what it takes. Like the slide at the start of "Rhapsody in Blue".

Silence to write, if I'm being serious. Playing at the moment: Hildegard Von Bingen, "O virgo ac diadema", by the Oxford Camerata.

Sorry, but denying that rock music is loud is like denying that dogs have four legs, on the grounds that some of them have three. I say it again, gloomily aware that no matter how many times I say it, nobody will hear it: I hate consistently loud music, and I mean by "loud" a received level of sound that is well beyond the maximum that the unamplified human voice or acoustic instrument can attain.

I agree that rock is no doubt an intense experience, and may have something in common with other intense experiences like bungee jumping, rollercoaster rides, and fiery foods. Another intense experience would be involved in sawing my thumbs off with a rusty razor. Do I have to have the experience to be certain that I would not enjoy it? Or perhaps that I should learn to enjoy it? Thank you, but no.

#172 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 12:11 PM:

"by "loud" a received level of sound that is well beyond the maximum that the unamplified human voice or acoustic instrument can attain" -- I refer again to my comment on painoFORTE, Symphony Orchestra, and Chorus, in terms of incoherent sound (versus coherent light in a laser). Also, really big Pipe Organs.

"denying that rock music is loud is like denying that dogs have four legs, on the grounds that some of them have three" --
Q. If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?
A. Four. It doesn't matter what you call them.
[this was a favorite joke of Abe Lincoln]

"I agree that rock is no doubt an intense experience" -- part of the point. But, for me, listening to Mozart, Bach, et. al in intense. I think that you have a valid objection to the straw man argument that intense amplitude = intense experience = musical quality, but that's not what folks here are saying.

Fiery foods have an interesting effect (other than presevative in hot countries, and covering up taste of decay) -- namely that an experience which COULD be interpreted as pain is instead, in context, interpreted as pleasure.

"bungee jumping, rollercoaster rides" -- there seems to be a genetic predisposition to some people requiring such things, as stimulus, and other people being averse to them. Not, for most people, a conscious choice.

#173 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 12:16 PM:

I say it again, gloomily aware that no matter how many times I say it, nobody will hear it: I hate consistently loud music, and I mean by "loud" a received level of sound that is well beyond the maximum that the unamplified human voice or acoustic instrument can attain.

Dave -- have you tried turning down the volume of your stereo? It works for me, even for rock music.

Hell, I hate consistently loud music, too. And I like rock. It's one of those zen tea/no-tea things, I guess.

#174 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 03:06 PM:

Dave: Some people have asked you already about other forms of music which are frequently loud - you've answered one of Teresa's. What do you think of being in a theatre watching Star Wars? (Most sound systems in theatres these days seem to believe in the "rock" principle when it comes to where to put the volume knob :p ). You like opera - but can you stand to sit in the front rows during a concert-hall performance thereof? What about other, non-rock modern sounds with heavy bass & drum machine - hip-hop and dance, for example? Are they "as bad"? Worse?

JVP's over-analysis of Blackbird aside, if you hear that song, do you think "Loud rock"?

I'm not sure Alex phrased his question as well as he might, so I'll rephrase it: Have you ever listened to any studio recordings from any rock bands, not blaring as the fans you know seem to like to play it, but at a relatively low volume? It doesn't necessarily make a difference to those (And Nobody has denied there are many) who record with a thrashy noise from the start, but there's a world of rockers who reward listening at a moderate level, with attention to the actual musicality.

These were not dismissals of your point, I think, but legitimate questions regarding your tolerance for other "loud" forms of music, or "loud" situations, and of the definition of loud and rock both. IE, we're TRYING to understand, on a logical level, in spite of the fact that the lot of us are basing this on visceral feeling.

Mostly, I understand where you're coming from, about the Loud and even some of the aggression (Although I associate those more with the metal end of rock, you could make a case for a chunk of the middle of the road rock). Where your comment falls down is when you hit "Consistently", and harp on it, and when you apply terms like "aggression" and "simplistic thinking" across the board.

#175 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 10:55 PM:

JVP: Sure "pianoforte" means "soft-loud" in Italian. The term refers to the ability of the performer to increase and decrease the volume by varying the key pressure, a property not present in earlier keyboard instruments like harpsichords and spinets. But "loud" in this context means something like "capable of being heard in the next room". To produce the volume of sound made by any pub band from your baby grand Bechstein, you'd have to amp and mike it. Or drop it eight floors, maybe.

Lenora Rose: Star Wars: It depends on the levels of sound in the theatre. If the system's set on "blow 'em away", I hate it. If it's loud in spots where loudness is called for, and those spots are brief and done for effect - like the initial fanfare and drum roll, which is to say "heads up" - OK.

Somebody said opera was loud. Not so, not by the standards of amplification used in rock. Most opera was written before the era of electronic amplification. It's acoustic, for heaven's sake. Wagner's loud, in comparison to, say, ordinary conversation, but he's not in the same league as the average pub band.

Organs? Can be loud, on the scale of acoustic instruments, and I was the one who remarked that they were the ultimate that pre-electronic technology could manage, but again we're talking about a different scale here.

I mentioned liking some of the Moody Blues. I said that it had been explained to me that this was not rock, but soft-pop, so I didn't count it as rock. Teresa took this to mean that I was saying that I meant by 'rock', 'music that I don't like'.

Not so. Rock was music that a bunch of people that I knew in college liked because it was driving. It was angry. It was powerful and visceral and raw. The Moody Blues, pfeh! That was sentimental, soft, romantic. "Knights in white satin, Never reaching the end. Letters I've written, Never meaning to send, but I love you..." Nonsense, they said. This isn't rock, they said, and as for my wish to turn down the volume on the music that they did like, it was clear that I didn't get it. This was something that I'd been hearing since my teens, when I walked out when the gang started listening to the Beatles with the volume cranked as high as the system could take.

Well, no. I didn't get it. I still don't. I retreated into books. Books didn't shout at you.

I wrote that I liked Herod's song from JC Superstar, which is billed as a 'rock opera'. In fact I liked most of that show. But "So you are the Christ, you're the great Jesus Christ", that's a honky-tonk cakewalk with brushes on the drums and a thumbtacked piano. OK, if you want to call it rock, go ahead. Caiaphas's song is closer to rock, perhaps, and I liked that too. Mary Magdalen's "I don't know how to love him", well, it's a pleasant little ballad, not worthy of its showstopper status, but melodic, slow, and gentle. Rock? I don't think so. Perhaps you disagree?

Thunder, and other loud sounds from nature: Nobody makes them, nobody can stop them, so having an opinion on them is nugatory.

You say hip-hop is non-rock. Well, if you say so. What would I know? But if it's loud, and it stays loud, and it's got a heavy bass line, no, I'd hate it.

But enough of this. I learned a long time ago that there is no sensation that some population of humans does not experience as pleasurable, and it is not for me to deny them their pleasures, so long as they are prepared to extend to me the right to forgo them, if that is my wish.

#176 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2005, 11:38 PM:

Dave Luckett:

I appreciate the care with which you express your opinion, against strong opposition.

"'Loud' in this context means something like 'capable of being heard in the next room.'"

I'd say that Rock has the same possibility, differentiating "chamber rock" (the equivalent of, say, a string quartet) from "Arena Rock" (the equivalent of a Wagner staging with 1,000 musicians and singers, capable of being heard across the soon-to-be breached national border).

I shall not let the defects of any given pub band determine my analysis, any more than I'll allow poetry to be defined by "open mic" night at the local coffeehouse.

If a fanfare and drumroll is okay in Star Wars, why not in a rock performance, where volume is modulated for dramatic effect, rather than kept deafeningly constant?

Those who explained to you that Moody Blues was not rock were among your misinformed informants, who painted you into this corner.

I also disdain the "volume cranked as high as the system could take" crowd -- I'd say that THEY don't get it. And I have deaf brother, which makes my concern for the common problems of aging rockers as the auditory equivalent of aging (American) football players, who can barely walk.

I remember feeling a certain pity for a friend's mother who claimed that she hated rock, and then admitted that Jesus Christ Superstar was actually quite nice. I couldn't bring myself to deny that JCS was rock, albeit near the boundary of mainstream, and not at the center. I seem to recall that it has at least one song not in 3/4 or 4/4.

I'd be interested in seeing a review by you of the book "Brian Wilson's 'SMiLE'" by Domenic Priore, given the critical success of SMiLE, the "pocket symphony" from 1967, at last completed, as profiled in last year's documentary "Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of SMiLE" which is available on DVD by Rhino Home Video.

Reminded of the adage that Duke Ellington played the piano but that his true instrument was the orchestra, Priore said: "That's right. And Brian's instrument was the studio. The Beach Boys were just one element that he was working with."

"Good Vibrations" is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Brian Wilson took the rise of the Beatles as a personal challenge.

Don't let the stupidity of the folks who rejected you in college in any way limit you now. Please.

#177 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 12:14 AM:

Graydon: you're lost in the wilderness and you come across two guys playing cards. One is a piper, with his pipes in tune. The other is the Easter Bunny. YOu ask them which way to get back to your car. The piper with the pipes in tune points to your right and the Easter Bunny points to your left.

Which way are you going to go?

Lbh tb gb lbhe yrsg, orpnhfr gur cvcre jvgu uvf cvcrf va ghar vf pyrneyl n unyyhpvangvba.

But when you search out more piper jokes, you realize most of them are the same as the banjo player jokes and the drummer jokes.

Just most of them, not all of them.

To tie up this bit with what the other, possibly saner people are talking about:
The Real McKenzies.

#178 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 12:37 AM:

Lucy Kemnitzer:

"... Which way are you going to go?"

Oh, you take the high road, and I'll take the low road.

#179 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 04:37 AM:

Jonathan, that's another tune the bagpipe teacher doesn't think much of.

But -- it's strange to sing it hereabouts, because the Santa Cruz Mountains contain a Ben Lomond, which is a mountain hippie town with a possibly world-reknowned weird little redneck bar that hosts amazingly cosmopolitan musical acts, and a Loch Lomond, which is a reservoir made by damming a little river where you can paddle your canoe.

I don't know why. I think it's not related to the town of Scotts Valley, which is named after a guy.

#180 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 07:31 AM:

DaveL: you seem determined to maintain that all rock is deafening, driving, angry, "powerful and visceral and raw", even in the face of absolutely everyone else saying that you have been misled. If you had moderated it to 'some', rather than 'all, you would have been right, but you don't seem willing to do that.

While I admire your willingness to stick to your guns, it tends to render any actual discussion impossible, because you are just not going to reconsider.

I'll end my involvement in this thread by suggesting that when you are the only person holding a position in a discussion of this type, you need to think rather strongly about whether you're certain you're right. Particularly bearing in mind that, from what you've said, you have very little actual experience of the music in question.

I would also suggest that you need to think about the question of covers. Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt, for example; Guns'n'Roses cover of Knocking on Heaven's Door. Both of those were very well received. How do cross-genre things fit into your insistence that rock is "impoverished intellectually"?

Before you answer that question, actually listen to Cash singing Hurt, or preferably watch the video; just reading the lyrics doesn't have the same effect.

Right. Next thread. ;-)

#181 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 07:33 AM:

Oh - one last thing. I forgot to ask, what music do you actually enjoy? Given that all forms of music can be played loud, you must have difficulties finding one. ;-)

(Which does raise the question - if you take something you like, and turn the volume up, does it then become something you hate?)

#182 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 09:38 AM:

Dave! I have not been trying to attack you for disliking rock music. I was just trying to point out that there's a whole world of rock music out there that you might be missing, that you might like. I'm not--and I don't think anyone else is--trying to say you're wrong for disliking loud music.

You don't have to like your music loud to listen to rock! Just don't go to shows. I listen to my i-pod in my office all of the time, with the little speaker thingie, and I keep it very low because, well, it is a law firm. I play it low enough that you can't hear it from the hallway even if my office door is open. The music is still nice.

It was me, I think, not Teresa, that said you were coming close to defining rock music as music you didn't like, and I still think that if you insist that "rock" is all the same outrageously loud volume, non-melodic, with meaningless lyrics (which you don't like), then you've missed the vast majority of rock music.

If the Moody Blues is Pop, where do we put U2 and David Bowie? I still think that the characteristics you've described only apply to some sub-genres of rock generally, although there are "hard" rock songs on lots of albums that also have songs on them you might not hate. I think you don't like: thrash; speed metal; hard-core; melodic hard-core; metal; death metal; and maybe some grunge.

My husband says he thinks there are members of the Moody Blues that even today would be displeased (er, he said, "Pissed Off.") to be categorized as pop. I think the people that told you they were pop are like the people Patrick started this thread about in the first place, who said in 1994 that Green Day couldn't be punk because they sold a lot of albums. Some music fans are just nasty about music they don't like, and "outing" bands from the genre--"Nirvana sold out! They're not grunge now!"--is almost classic.

It is perfectly fine with me that you dislike non-melodic, consistently loud, driving rock music with meaningless lyrics. I don't like very much of that either. I don't like speed metal. It gives me a headache. But I haven't yet seen, I don't think, anyone telling you that you have to like loud music with pounding bass lines.

Paul: I love Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt. Of course, I love the original. And have you seen the live cut of Trent singing it with David Bowie?

There is a song on the new Nine Inch Nails called "Right Where It Belongs." It's my favorite. If you think "Hurt" is a good song, you should run right out and get With Teeth. Today.

#183 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 12:03 PM:

I also wonder if Dave L. likes Moody Blues, but denies that they're rock, what is his opinion of Pink Floyd?

Anyway, he doesn't need to be mean to rock drummers. As per Patrick's jokes about guitarists versus bassists versus drummers, we know that drummers are far more likely to spontaneously blow up.

#184 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 01:48 PM:

Serious suggestion [from a gardening source] for chasing squirrels, deer etc out of the garden - put a radio under a bucket and set it out. On the ground it also chases moles and gophers. Tune it to talk radio [worst], or heavy metal or Wagner. Problem is it would keep me out of the garden too. I can just hear them under there "Oh no, what is the neighborhood coming to?"

#185 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 02:36 PM:

Lucy: But when you search out more piper jokes, you realize most of them are the same as the banjo player jokes and the drummer jokes.

That's odd; most of the drummer jokes I've heard focus on drummers as idiots rather than their abus{ed,ive} instruments. That includes the dozen-plus run off by Brust (a sometime drummer) when I made the mistake of telling one in his presence. See also
http://paul.merton.ox.ac.uk/music
(I \think/ it predates the copy at
http://www.mit.edu/people/jcb/jokes/
and in any case has stories attached.)

#186 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 04:17 PM:

Varia, You offered to list 'bands that can do introspective, contemplative, complex recordings" Please do, I'd love to know. I'm from the rock generation, but I never got it then, except for an occasional song. Instinctively [dodging traffic across to the record store to find out what they're playing] I'm Baroque and before, plus the crossover of jazz and early music. Plus folk, and I have to admit that rap has an irresistible beat. But recently after 20-some years I stopped listening to the classical station down the hill. The local independent station is widely broadening my horizons. I never know what I'm going to get when I turn them on. One morning it's Hawaiian music....

So, reading all these comments, I'm getting curious about what I've missed in rock. I know, every time I reread War for the Oaks, that I'm missing a lot of context. But I can't take loud, or smoke, so I miss the whole live music scene. Some recommended recordings would be greatly appreciated.

#187 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 05:13 PM:

When proposing Matmos, I was more thinking of The Civil War and it's mad retelling of folk than A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure.

That being said, a lot of the music I had in mind was cross-genre music, or music in which the definitions of what Dave likes and doesn't like were present at the same time: Max Richter's mix of quiet contemplative chords with a powerful, thunder-growling-in-your-backgarden like bassline in "Shadow Journal"(plus it's a musician with Kafka quotes in his music ^_^); Alva Noto & Ryuchi Sakamoto's "Vrioon", with very low, slow piano, and very invading low sounds whose frequencies allow them to ignore a lot of obstacles altogether; Massive Attack to check the reaction to both "Protection" and "Angel", both heavy on bass, but so very different in treatment; King Krimson's "Fracture" and "Starless" (one of them rock band "that can do introspective, contemplative, complex recordings" I guess, but still with saturated guitars... you can listen at low volume with no problem), etc...
The purpose was more to try and refine/modify the definition of what he likes and doesn't like than anything else, for in its actual state, it's not only rock, but whole other genres and subgenres he wouldn't like.
I'm positive he'd hate Merzbow with a passion, as he'd Love Rachel's Music for Egon Schiele. It's hard to be sure of anything between those two extremes.

I can't accept someone who likes Hildegard Von Bingen (a proof of good taste in my opinion) would chose to simply ignore a whole number of masterpieces just because they have been labeled into a certain genre. But I'm sill not even sure that's what he's actually saying...

#188 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 07:37 PM:

CHip: most of the jokes are the musicians being foolish, feckless, annoying, out of tune, or broke. People just file the serial numbers off and recycle them. Some of them are pretty awkward, though.

Pipe major jokes are a separate category. They're more like Cabot and Lodge jokes.

#189 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 07:56 PM:

Dave, as several people have said, whoever told you the Moody Blues aren't rock was indulging in genre snobbery, not in any kind of actual criticism. Rock includes the good and the sucky and the sell-outs and the pop-bubblegum acts and Warren Zevon too.

Mina, here's a couple of bands I've been listening to lately and several more from the CD collection, some of which I listen to now and some of which I don't, but all of which don't yell too much. Disclaimer: this is really an off-the-cuff response. Not meant to fairly or accurately represent the world of introspective rock in any way.

Wilco (I think Summerteeth is probably their most accessible album, and oh do I adore it)
The Decemberists--weird structures, great lyricism.
Stereo Totale (that's pushing the rock definition, but if you are learning to like hiphop or electronica, give them a chance, they will at least make you laugh)
Modest Mouse runs the gamut. You will probably hate some of their stuff. You might hate all of it. But I hope you don't.

I have a weird fascination with the White Stripes' latest album, but I don't know if I would recommend it or not. It's sometimes interesting and sometimes makes me roll my eyes and walk away. But there you go. I don't suspect the fascination will last that long, honestly, but there's some decent material there.

Is it too cliched to recommend Radiohead? Their earlier material is more accessible, but definitely falls into Dave's "depressing and angry" category.

I like the Shins a lot, and they've been getting quite the radio lovin' lately (at least in the Northwest, not knowing where you live, YMMV).

For straight-up pop rock, Suzanne Vega's 99.9F isn't bad at all. I don't know if I'd call it contemplative, necessarily, but it's an album that I've liked consistently for several years so that's got to be some kind of recommendation.

Seriously, did the Beatles ever do it for you? How about blues-rock type stuff?

I got to rock through Baroque & Romantic period (classical, eck phaugh) and folk music, so I hear you. You like Tom Waits? How about klezmer? Devendra Banhardt?

Eh, it's not the world's ideal list, but it's a place to start, and if anyone else out there wants to get in on the gestalt, this could actually get fun.

#190 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 08:35 PM:

Dave has said from the beginning that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were there at the beginning of his dislike for rock, so I don't think the glories of "And Your Bird Can Sing" are going to convince him. He doesn't like rock, either what he heard as a child (Beatles/Stones) or what he heard in college (early seventies hard rock), and I doubt anything will change that.

I think I can guarantee he won't like much of what's been mentioned upthread--I mean, Tom Waits? It's great art, but it will not be to Dave's taste.

Now, I'd really be interested in what Dave would make of King Crimson, as they meet, in my opinion, his criteria for when music can do the things he doesn't like for music to do in rock. But I'd also like to know what he doesn't like that one might think he would like. Are there classical composers--my namesake, John Adams, for instance--that he doesn't like?

#191 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 09:10 PM:

adamsj,

I agree. None of those were suggested to Dave. I'm pretty much done with that conversation. Everything after the first paragraph is addressed to Mina. Sorry if that was unclear; I probably should have made those two separate posts or left out my largely pointless echo of the moody-blues comments.

I do think you're selling Tom Waits a little short there. Not only is it great art, but it's totally unclassifiable. Rain Dogs may be one of his best albums, but (e.g.) This One's From the Heart strikes a completely different chord with a number of my friends who find Rain Dogs too weird for words.

#192 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 10:28 PM:

Varia,

I remember when Rain Dogs and Swordfishtrombone came out and my hippie friends couldn't understand why he wasn't making nice records like Small Change any more.

#193 ::: Elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2005, 10:52 PM:

Ironically, I became a bass fanatic entirely because of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from Les Miserables. I was reading Les Miserables at my grandmother's house, while listening to the soundtrack on a portable radio that was sitting next to me on the bed so I could turn the tape over when needed. So I'm reading, and crying, and there was this incredible buildup of timpani drums (?) that I could feel right in my stomach because the speakers were right there next to me. It was an incredible feeling, and I was hooked. So I became fascinated with the sensation of actually being able to FEEL the music. Anything from a bass played pizzicato in bluegrass music, to cello music, to electronic dance music. I am totally addicted to bass, and it has nothing to do with rock.
Elizabeth

#194 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2005, 06:15 AM:

Dave L. said: I hate consistently loud music, and I mean by "loud" a received level of sound that is well beyond the maximum that the unamplified human voice or acoustic instrument can attain.

Alex Cohen said: Dave -- have you tried turning down the volume of your stereo? It works for me, even for rock music.

Just thought I'd bring this point up again, since it hasn't been answered yet. If it's the loudness that's causing offence, then the simple solution really would be to just turn the volume down. The only times rock (or any other genre) music tends to be consistently loud is in a public situation (eg. pubs and clubs at the weekend, concerts, house parties, etc) -- mostly to ensure that it can be heard over the crowd of people.

In one's own home, rock (or any other genre) music can be as loud or as soft as you'd like. In the home, loudness isn't an issue.

#195 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2005, 10:36 AM:

Madeline: from the sound of it, you don't live in a crowded neighbourhood or a block of flats. Many people do. I have to go to the Opera House or Recital Hall or suchlike to get full volume.
Am watching the end of the Tour de France race on TV, and I have the sound just loud enough to get the atmosphere, with the closed caption on to catch any useful information from the commentators, because it's about half-past midnight. (I'm not a big sport-watcher, but I go on a nostalgia binge, remembering happier times, as they ride through Paris on the final laps, and the spectacle is an extraordinary one.)

#196 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2005, 01:38 PM:

Okay, let's turn the volume down to zero, and consider Rock lyrics.

Specifically, let's look at the site that gets 50,000 unique hits per day --

http://www.SongMeanings.net

Why is "Mr.Brightside" the secondmost-searched lyric in July (after the Green Day's political "American Idiot")?

Is Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" about the Lord of the Rings?

#197 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2005, 02:18 PM:

Varia,

Thanks for the recommendations, I'll start checking some of them out. Including Tom Waites, whose name I only know through a Loreena McKennitt pastiche.

That's the problem with listening to a classical station only, losing track of other kinds of music. At least I was listening during a positive explosion of early music performance, so I learned a lot of group names, like Anonymous 4, who were my introduction to Hildegard.

I even listened to opera for those 20-some years, trying to educate my ears, except when they were playing Wagner. Very rarely he rewarded me by playing something early like Lully, and all the opera lovers hated it. After all those years, every time they did a fund raiser I wanted to send money to little KLCC in Oregon. That's a student station with predictable diversity: only a few hours of classical, but I knew that the woman on Thurs morns liked early music, and a whole evening of folk music, and they had the Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett kinds of jazz.

The classical station down the hill is a playlist kind of place, where it's always all the same 'cause they play everything all together; Baroque next to Beethoven, and Dowland next to Wagner. They had jazz too, but only the loud, driving beat sort. When they moved all my favorite programs [Celtic and Sound & Spirit, and Harmonia -early music] to Sat aft when I could never hear them, and dropped the space music entirely, I realised I should be listening to something more diverse.

I'll have to see if I can find that Sunday Baroque program mentioned on another thread.

#198 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2005, 02:52 PM:

Editor John Carroll of the Los Angeles Times is a lame duck, since The Tribune Company has named Dean Basquet as successor. Under the Carroll aegis, the slipping Times was resurrected, and won a slew of Pulitzers.

One of the things that the Times does in depth is coverage of the Entertainment industry. Today's paper has a fascinating and extensive analysis edited by Robert Hilburn, pop music critic, "Pop's Power Elite."

21 heavy-hitting Music Producers were surveyed as to whom rated how among the "top" pop music stars and groups. They were promised anonymity, and so dished the stars rather bloodily at times. Meanwhile, 10 points were awarded for every 1st place nomination on an executive's list, 9 points for every 2nd place listing, and so forth. The resultant Top 10 is interesting (and the Times gives analysis of each, plus many also-rans).

#1. Usher, 130 points, 17 of 21 executives put him on the Top 10.

#2. Alicia Keys, 113 points, 15 of 21 executives put her on the Top 10.

#3. Coldplay, 104 points, 14 of 21 executives put them on the Top 10.

#4. Eminem, 87 points, 12 of 21 executives put him on the Top 10.

#5. Beyonce', 56 points, 10 of 21 executives put her on the Top 10.

#6. Timberlake, 55 points, 8 of 21 executives put him on the Top 10.

#7. Oukast, 54 points, 11 of 21 executives put them on the Top 10.

#8. 50 Cent, 53 points, 7 of 21 executives put him on the Top 10.

#9. Kayne West, 51 points, 8 of 21 executives put him on the Top 10.

#10. Dr.Dre, 37 points, 7 of 21 executives put him on the Top 10.

They do a revealing retrospective of the 2001 list and "what happened to" (Beatles, Dave Matthews band, Madonna, Limp Bizkit, Faith Hill, Celine Dion) plus "how did we miss" (Usher, N'Sync/Justin Timberlak, Britney Spears, Linkin' Park, Jay-Z).

But one thing stands out for me. Coldplay was the only Rock entity to make the top 10 Pop list here, albeit a complicated ranking be executives about expectations (a sort of futures market).

"Many of the executives grew up on rock 'n' roll and were saddened they couldn't find more room on their lists for rock artists. Though several groups, including the Red Hot Chili peppers, have generated massive sales totals in recent years, only Cold Play, U2, Linkin Park, Maroon5, and green Day made more than 3 Top 10 lists. 'Rock has really been hurt by the new reality in our world,' said one executive, whose list includes only two rock acts. 'It's the most stolen, most pirated, whatever you want to say, genre we have now. Whatever you you think you could sell with a rock album, you have to cut it by a third.'"

This was a list about Pop, not rock. It shows the place in pantheon for R&B (is Usher the new Michael Jackson?), Hip-Hop, and Alicia Keys -- who is such a talented singer that she could probably make it in any genre.

Is Coldplay the new U2? What happens in the alternate history where Eminem grew up on Rock? One can only wonder.

#199 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2005, 03:53 PM:

Mina,

Tom Waits might be one of my first crossover artists (might as well start with the best). I'd suggest his jazzier albums first (all of the ones adamsj & I have discussed, except Rain Dogs). The voice is likely to be startling at first and you have more typical material on those. I think I started listening to Neil Young & the Cowboy Junkies about the same time, and I have no regrets there.

It's all a matter of what you hit first, which might've been Dave's problem. If the first six people you try are too far outside your comfort range, it doesn't sound like music, it sounds like noise, and then there's no incentive to keep trying.

Are you into showtunes at all? Hedwig & the Angry Inch features some amazing introspective rock ballads (as well as some things you are guaranteed to hate) but if you're a fan of musicals at all it might be a good place to start with as well.

If you've ever been into opera or at least operatic-style singing, there's a local band (Portland, OR local) that, while I have a feud with them and will probably never pay to hear them again, I can wholeheartedly recommend just for fun (I'm mature and adult! Look at me step beyond my feud!). It ain't rock though, nor is it moody or introspective. Some of the tracks from their album are available on their website: www.vagabondopera.com.

#200 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 11:28 AM:

Varia,

Thanks again. Even after 20 years of listening to opera almost every Friday, I never started enjoying it. But I'll check them out, you never know.

#201 ::: wyzeone1 ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2005, 03:07 AM:

Loud noises are vexascious to the spirit..

#202 ::: Dan Hoey sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2011, 01:48 PM:

with a link.

#203 ::: Dan Hoey sees no spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2011, 01:50 PM:

The spam I accused vanished while I was posting.

Just so you know I'm not making any judgment on wyzeone1.

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