August 20, 2004



Response from Franklin about my snapping on rock. This immediately made me think of several very thorough and thoughtful responses I got when I snapped on Fela.

One thing among many I like about Le Blog is the lack of a safety catch. Swoosh. Out it comes. Unmediated bark, unfunded research project, expulsion of gas, etc—I assume the distinguishability of these forms is high but I am wrong and the bad probably has my name on it.

The difference between "rock sucks ass!" and some other, more measured entry is the difference between, say, that time I wrote you a long, windy letter that burned in my gut for months and that other time when we got together at South's and I was a little saucy and put my arm around you and said "My friend, David Carradine is SUBLIME. You're right—he is the best kung faux actor ever."

There's an unfair assumption in all this, and it's linked to all those email lack-of-affect problems, aka The Reason We Have Emoticons: I assume you'll know the voice I'm using when I use it, which is just dumb. (Which is of course why things work better when we stick to reasonable and thought-out, but is that so much fun? Would we get to the good stuff if we checked everything first? Isn't that part of the newspaper vs. blog debate?)

Again—this isn't to say I'm not not a fan of most recent rock lyrics, or Fela's take on funk; just that I would build the house differently if I thought we were all going to walk around in it a lot. (See "treehouse versus A-frame.") These yawps of mine also reveal tendencies of thought. I am more interested in your DNA than the hat you're wearing. Larger movements and Oz-like engines are my thing. If Fela has one song out of thirty four that kills, that doesn't much change my take on his aesthetic. (Listening, more slowly and generously, I am not disposed to change what I said the first time, which was specific to his records and the basic Afrobeat pattern, which for Pete's sake does exist. If Bootsy said Fela was the best live show he'd ever seen, which he did, the ENTIRE Fela experience is likely a whole 'nother thing, but I was talking about records. And it seems like there are two barriers between me and the serotonin goodies. 1) The whole band is not as good as Tony Allen. 2) The basic template isn't—of itself—enough my thing enough to get me enjoying the basically OK tracks. It's obviously pleasant and if I had a restaurant I'd play it, but funk is not background music for me.)

Sorry to gas on–I am addressing these issues in another venue and this is sort of spilling over. (Snag on me—blogs maybe not so ideal!) Blogging just doesn't seem worth doing if we're going to be reasonable all the time. There's more than enough reasonability out there.

Going medium speed, Franklin's long list tells me some stuff. 1) I don't listen to as much rock as he does. 2) My football cry is an averages thing. Of course there are still great rock lyricists. But, averaged out and controlling for influence and significance, my gut feeling is "feh." A lot of it is Malkmus' fault, and a lot of it is an internal memo on hip-hop itself, i.e., "What other markets can we move into, now that hip-hop's taken over the rhyhmic fire and rebel yell markets?" But this is my hobbyhorse and let's just leave it alone for the moment. (PS: Because of my blabby and unchecked nature [and my hobbyhorse promenades], I'm not surprised I've left the impression I don't like Malkmus. But that ain't right—just because I point out that a lot of wacktards copy Pavement, and Pavement themselves didn't hold my attention for long, this doesn't also mean I never dug Malkmus or his lyrics. I am extremely in love with Westing and Slanted and often can't get SM's scansion out of my wee Kylie head. Whatevs—I love Jimi Hendrix and look at the poop stream he started. That was my original point.)

Yeah, Darnielle, above pretty much everyone out there. Franklin's made records with him, so he knows. Kurt I don't reckon needs including, though he's as good a place as any to start with the whole music v. lyrics problem. I love PJ Harvey without needing to think I like her lyrics qua lyrics, though I also wouldn't change a word of them. That doesn't mean I don't think they're good lyrics because they wouldn't look good on the page, just that they dont take on a second life in my head, which is more my yardstick for lyrics than any transitive lit(mus) paper test. Many of the writers on Franklin's list I don't know or know only in passing, a passing that suggested I would never like the music enough to hear the words, so I am probably disqualified from opinining about any of this. Maybe Graeme Downes is a great writer, but I just can't fuck with The Verlaines. (Is that even the right group?)

M.E.S. and Prince, 4ever of course, but I have them filed with an earlier class. Arab Strap = not music. Craig Finn and Luke Haines I love love love. A lot of these others I don't know. Kristin Hersh = no fucking way. Carol van Dijk—yes, happy to admit that oversight. Serveert! Thalia Zedek? I can't remember a lyric, a singe one, though I like her voice. Forster, yes. Hey, where's Dean Wareham? I love his shit.

There are sturdy and generalizable reasons for why I think who I like is good, and some huge political implications. Crushingly big. But my first reaction is just about me and shit.

Lemme see the list again:

Berman I like depsite sort of not liking him, Refrigerator I have a a cassette but I never listened to it more than once, Hanna yes, her stuff is good, Scrawl I haven't heard since 1987, David Thomas I do not like, ditto Lambchop, ditto YLT, one of my top five snoozers of all time. Azita is great, good one, and I like Buckner, though I think it's the voice—the lit bleed is a little much for me at times.

And when The Sands release a record that is, despite any of my wishes or efforts, an indie rock record, those who want to can hit back with the fury of the scorned and make me wish I'd never brought any of it up. That's baseball!

(Do you all remember Tar? I just put on a Tar record and I can barely remember Tar. Why do I have this record? Look–they made aluminum faces for their guitars. I like that. Who recorded this? What year was this? It sounds 1990, but it's 1993.)

Posted by Sasha at August 20, 2004 09:07 AM | TrackBack