Thursday, November 01, 2007

. . . in which I confess to the Almighty Gods of Rock.

Over yonder at Slate, they asked some authors to name the book they feel most guilty about having never read. Most of them picked a title that is generally considered to be a classic, written by an author generally considered to be a big dog in literary circles.

Many of the people interviewed have actually started to read the book at issue and they offer a litany of reasons for why they haven’t finished it. It’s interesting that none of them said, however, what is probably the real reason: they just don’t care for the book.

It’s not easy to admit that you don’t appreciate a work that your aspirational peers admire. There can be a certain shame involved because you end up not faulting the work, but your own inability to grasp its greatness. Perhaps you’re too simple or shallow. Maybe you went to the wrong schools. Maybe it’s genetic. Whatever shortcomings you lay at your own feet, it’s best to keep them to yourself and go along with what your “betters” have established to be true.

All of this set me to thinking about things I should like, but don’t. Not a guilty pleasure, but a guilty annoyance, if you will. For the interest of this blog, I’ll concentrate on music, since that seems to be a favorite topic of suggestion.

Some in my set like Dave Matthews, but I don’t feel guilty about finding him insufferable. I’ve run with some Deadheads in my day, but despite a brief dalliance (I once owned American Beauty), I don’t feel the need to pretend that I enjoy their incessant noodling. Then there are the authentic rockers like Tom Petty or Eric Clapton, who portray none of the preening or pretentiousness that I despise, yet who, with few exceptions (American Girl), still fail to move me with their music and can even be the source of great annoyance (Jammin’ Me. Lord do I hate that song.)

I can stand by my dislike of these musicians without feeling unhip or stunted in some manner. It’s much harder for me to admit that . . . that I . . . I . . I don’t like the Beatles, OKAY!

Just keep walking, boys.

Well, perhaps don’t like is too strong. But I can no longer count myself as a Beatles fan.

Now let’s be clear about one thing, I have the utmost respect for their talent and their body of work. There can be no doubt that they’ve written some great songs. They are one of the most groundbreaking bands in the history of popular music and their influence is beyond measure. I’ve enjoyed listening to them in the past, but for some reason, I don’t anymore.

What’s troubling is that I don’t know why.

Some might suggest that I’ve forsaken the past for more modern sounds, but if that were the case, then why do I still love the Kinks? Clearly, I can commit to a long-term relationship with a band, even after younger, more attractive bands start to catch me eye.

Others might say that I’m a music snob and am thus put off by the Beatles massive mainstream following. I’ll admit that my CD collection contains few top Billboard artists, but I can assure you that even in the deepest recesses of the indie rock world, there is no cachet to be had by dissing the Fab Four.

The only reason I can come up with, and this probably doesn’t really explain it, is that I’m not a big fan of Lennon or McCartney as vocalists. Again, this is no indictment on their abilities, it’s just that you either like a singer’s voice or you don’t and it may have nothing to do with his range or tonality.

It’s perhaps revealing that my two favorite Beatles songs aren’t Beatles songs, they’re George Harrison songs. What Is Life is in heavy rotation during our weekly dance parties and My Sweet Lord is one of my favorite inspirationals. Clearly it’s not an anti-Liverpool bias that drives my indifference to the lads, so perhaps there is something about the group dynamic that I subconsciously find off-putting.

Could it be that I resent the second-class status that Ringo was laden with? Was it the mockery that became of the Lennon-McCartney collaboration? Was it Yoko? Linda?

I’ll probably never know. But what I would like to know is what is your guilty annoyance? What band just doesn’t rock you like you think that they should?




23 comments:

Rock-Robster said...

FYI – the two “non-Beatles” Beatles songs you mentioned are not, in fact Beatles songs. They are both solo works by George Harrison. In 1976, Bright Tunes Music sued Harrison because this sounded too much like the 1963 Chiffons hit "He's So Fine." Bright Tunes owned the copyright to "He's So Fine" and received $587,000 when a judge ruled that Harrison "subconsciously plagiarized" the song.

Maybe you just like songs with a "bad boy" edge???

Rovk-Robster said...

excuse me - I hit publish too quick . . .

The song Harrison was sued over was "My Sweet Lord." Nonetheless, neither that nor "What is Life" is a Beatles song.

Dave said...

Springsteen and Dave Mathews are the two that come to mind right away.

And I’ve never, ever understood how anyone could like Bjork and yet she never fully goes away.

Sometimes bands go through annoying eras. For example, I loved the first few albums from U2 when they cam out (Boy, October, War). Then they went through a period (starting with The Unforgettable Fire which I think was quite forgettable) where I couldn’t stand them. In more recent years, I’ve come to appreciate what they are doing again.

And don’t feel bad about not liking the Beatles anymore. Frankly, I’ve always hated all of Paul McCartney’s stuff with the band (Rocky Raccoon? Gawd!). His solo stuff mostly sucks too with the notable exception of the Band on the Run album.

rock-robster said...

Rocky Raccoon was a collaboration between McCartney, Lennon and (oddly enough) Donovan (they co-wrote it whilst sipping tea with the Maharishi in India). I understand that you don’t like it – but I just wanted to clear up the fact that it is not an exclusively PM song.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Rock and Rovk,

When I wrote that "my two favorite Beatles songs aren’t Beatles songs, they’re George Harrison songs", I meant to acknowledge that these were post-Beatles efforts, but I do see how you could take it to mean something else.

I do remember reading something about George ripping off that melody. Although I don't condone such things, I do see how it can happen subconsciously and I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

Paul Westerberg had a person accuse him of stealing the title of his song "Date to Church." He said that it was very possible that the accuser had told him the title, as he claimed, but Paul honestly thought that he came up with it himself.

These people ingest a lot of drugs and alcohol for the sake of their art so we should excuse them their occasional thievery.

Thanks for commenting,
Dan

rock-robster said...

I’ve just been told that I’m coming off as an a**-h*** in my recent posts. This was not my intention, and I apologize for seeming/being rude.

rock-robster said...

Ok, now back into it . . .
BFS – I don’t know how any artist can ever really separate their influences from their product . . . add in psychotropic drugs, and it’s all a jumbled stew of original and derivative riffs . . .

But, for the sake of the topic – I don’t like Radiohead. There, I said it. I know they are considered one of the most influential of the day, but I frankly don’t get it. And I saw them live (I believe with BFS!). And "TV on the Radio" was a tough sell to my tastes as well (but I at least found 2-3 tracks of theirs I could stand/kind of like).

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Rock,

No offense taken. I know you were just trying to point out something that needed clarification. And I appreciate the informative nature of your posts.

I don't know who suggested that you were coming across as an ass in your comments, but I should tell you that some fair parking attendents at rival lots think you're arrogant and vastly overrated. I put it down to jealousy.

Thanks for commenting,
Dan

nancy said...

I don't think I used that exact word, honey. I don't call you Cliff Claven for nothing.

Wow, this is an even harder assignment than guilty pleasures. I guess, like you say Dan, one's element of cool and hipness is at stake. Grateful Dead, for sure would top my list. I'll have to carefully consider my other choices.

nancy said...

Maybe....Coldplay? Green Day? Again, this is a lot like the guilty pleasures thing, especially in that I lack the "guilt" aspect of my choices. There's a reason why I don't like who/what I don't like and it's generally because I don't find them to be "good". But in terms of how I'm viewed by others whose opinions I value, I guess there is some risk involved (probably not in the examples above, however). I tend to agree with Rock about TV on the Radio, who I really, really wanted to like, but found to be headache-inducing.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

I share your opinion about TV on the Radio. I had read so much about how great their album was and I was sure I was going to like it. Even now, I'm waiting for the couple of singles that I downloaded to grow on me. Nothing yet.

Thanks for commenting,
Dan

Henny Penny said...

Rush. My husband's formative years were spent making Rush's music part of his very being. I only like Tom Sawyer. But, he would probably say the same thing about my teen obsession with Queen. I can recognize a Brian May lick anywhere anytime.

Anonymous said...

RR doesn't just sound like an ---hole, he IS one! Sorry NS, you should know

Anonymous Communist said...

The band that doesn't rock like I think they should is Smashing Pumpkins.

I don't feel guilty for thinking that, tho. It's actually their fault for sucking so bad.

"Gish" starts out rocking hard with "I Am One" and "Siva." But then it wusses out with "Rhinoceros" before coming back strong with "Bury Me." Then the rest of the album is crap, save for "Tristessa."

"Gish" is a frustrating album to listen to. When they played fast and loud, they rocked hard. But when things got slow and quiet, few things sucked as hard.

But Billy Corgan has done OK without me as a fan; I hear he has a walk-in humidor.

gotshoo.com said...

The Beatles are a band that I've had a love-hate relationship with. I like the early stuff, but not a Hard Day's Night. I like the stuff in the middle, but Yellow Submarine would require a few choice drugs. It wasn't until recently that GTG's dad reintroduced me to the boys from Liverpool that I put back into my playlist.

TV on The Radio - Their latest album Return to Cookie Mountain is not as good as Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, and it's an album you have to listen from start to end. It kind of follows the Radiohead method to music.

I am going to go with AC's choice of the Smashing Pumpkins. I got their concept, but they never reached their full rock potential. You can only hit repeat on 1979 so many times.

Tonika said...

Hey Dan and Tammy, how are you guys? It's been a long time since we've seen you.
Tammy---I must admit I was quite excited to get a comment on my first blog entry. Thank you.
Dan---We enjoy your blog.
We should get together sometime, I'd love to see you guys and the kids.

Take care,
Tonika and Gurel

Laura said...

For me it's Son Volt. I know I should like them, seeing as I'm as big an Uncle Tupelo fan as you'll find and Wilco is one of my favorite bands. But I just don't. Maybe subconsciously (or consciously), I blame Jay Farrar for the rift between he and Tweedy that broke up Tupelo, a heartbreak from which I will probably never recover. And it may have something to do with the one live performance of Son Volt that I did see. Farrar can't hold a candle to Tweedy when it comes to stage presence and witty banter with the audience (Dan, is it ok when Tweedy talks during his shows since he's so damn funny?). But, with the notable exception of Tear Stained Eye, you'd never find any Son Volt on my ipod if I had my own.

Mike De La Loyola said...

Rock Robster, you just fine.... but I've never understood yours and other peoples' obsession with Steely Dan. Lord, I do hate that band. I think if things go wrong at the end of my life and I find myself on the Down Elevator To Hell, Steely Dan will be playing in the background (and will probably be live by the side of some lake of fire, where the Meat Puppets certainly won't be).

Same with Journey and the Eagles. Great bands? Blech.

As for alterna bands? I think the Harty Boys. Everyone talks about how they were the greatest unsung group ever, and apparently there's a hot trade in bootlegs of their unreleased masterpiece, "Guitar-B-Que," but I still don't get it. Sure, there's their raw sexiness, and the blistering guitar solo on the underground classic "Free James Brown," but I just don't see it. Everyone I ever talk about thinks they are the unrecognized geniuses of the early 1990s Chicago scene, but I'm just not sold.

nancy said...

Mike de la Loyola

You have an interesting perspective re: the Harty Boys. Too much @#$%ing perspective if you ask me. Their music was incomparable. Seriously....incomparable.

Makes you wonder where the Boys are now. I think I heard "Guitar Tongue" on a Nissan commercial.

Mike De La Loyola said...

I heard two rumors - one, that they drifted back to Moose Jaw, Sasketchewan, after negotiations fell through for Jenny Craig to use "I Love Your Cellulite, Baby" in a nationwide campaign. The other one I heard was that they married well and have sired good-looking children.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add :

Pink Floyd (four hour intros put me to sleep)

Neil Young (voice makes me throw up a little in my mouth)

and dare I say it; Led Zeppelin to your list of bands/artists I am supposed to like but, (other than a few songs) could care less about.

Aunt Pearl's Jam wasn't one of my favorites when they were "it" but I've actually grown to appreciate them. Especially when they took on metrotix.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

You guys talking about the Harty Boys? I saw them play a set at the Kiwanis in Coal City last weekend. They still got it man, I don't know why they aren't bigger.

mike de la loyola said...

Well, was that the Original Harty Boys? They had to change their name, actually – there was another group in the East End of Coal City called the Original Harty Boys and they had to rename themselves the New Original Harty Boys.

But then the Original Harty Boys changed their name back to the Regular Harty Boys.

And they thought they could go back to the Original Harty Boys, but what’s the point?