Time for a Music Thread

June 7, 2011 at 8:08 pm (By Miles Lascaux)

While the boss is out re-connecting with NYC, it’s a good time to start a music thread. Sound like a non sequiteur? It is! It’s always a good time for a music thread.

Rock music began as music by outsiders. But it quickly became, among other things, music for bullies. Music bullies, who gloated as they hurried the previous generation of music off the stage, and seared with scorn any experimental break from the strict formula of two guitars, drum, bass and a 12-bar blues format.

Which is why I have little patience for one-time “rock stars” Who whine now that they can’t get studio contracts or radio time because they’re overaged. Classic rock format stations will play “Edge of Seventeen” forever, but Stevie Nicks can’t get any new music heard. She ought to rewrite it as “Edge of Seventy.”

Who cares? For one, I’ve heard enough Paul Simon to last a lifetime.Nobody said rock stardom was a sinecure.

Anyway, that’s the rant. Here’s the music. Despite all the above, the Beatles, who set the format in motion, were my first musical love, and it’s only now, after 35 years or so of listening to their music, that I feel I’ve come to the limits of it.

[Though if you ask me, they could have pulled the plug on it, and all of rock, about the end of 1967, when the limits of that limited format had been reached, stretched, and breached. The live version of “Down on Me.” Lights out.]

The Beatles, however, were sui generis, in their combination of songwriting sensibility and musicianship. And part of the mistake rock made was everybody else thinking they were supposed to do that, too.

It’s hard to “own” a Beatles song, if you’re another artist. But here are two examples I’d offer:

Common thread? Soul. The one thing four guys from England and George Martin couldn’t produce. To their credit, I think they’d all have acknowledged that (witness the too-late effort to work Billy Preston into the ensemble, and the electrifying results of that).

Meanwhile, there’s this, which my son turned me on to. Not a video, just music. I don’t know anything about the band — and I don’t want to. I’ve acquired a very Cleanth Brooks approach to music: I want to be alone with the text, the artifact. Creators are irrelevant.

This breaks the format without being obviously about nothing but breaking the format. What if the Ramones had been a mariachi band? What if your sensibilities extended past your own libido to, well, everything …

Anyway, enjoy. Don’t mind me.

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15 Comments

  1. mockturtle said,

    “Common thread? Soul. The one thing four guys from England and George Martin couldn’t produce.” Right on!

    Hey, have you tried playing the two pieces simultaneously? :-)

  2. mileslascaux said,

    Sounds like a mash-up waiting to happen.

    And, pre-emptively, Joe Cocker may list England on his birth certificate, but really he’s from Planet Unleashed

  3. Maxwell James said,

    That last one is my favorite song from my favorite album. And the one thing you may want to know about the band is that it was their last album. They won’t be coming back again.

  4. Ron said,

    I like Lydia Lunch’s version of “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” better than the Fabs…

    They also don’t have the punk anger for some things like they should….

  5. Ron said,

    Plus, while it’s not quite as good, I do have fondness for Brian Eno’s “Tomorrow Never Knows”

  6. mockturtle said,

    “Sounds like a mash-up waiting to happen.”
    Not so. If you start each at just the right moment, they are counterpoints.

  7. karen said,

    Hhmmmm– the format changed for comments?
    I’m a music ignoramus– and i never remember words– i need all the music right before my eyes when i sing at Church– it’s pretty funny, but my voice ain’t too bad:0).

    I really liked that video- i liked reading the words and getting the poetic lingo along w/the jingle. Sometimes any interpretation video ruins my idea of what it’s all about. It sounds like a song about pills by some punk group back in the 80’s, but reads like ~Don’t Fear the Reaper~.

    Rage Against the Machine- Red Hot Chilli Peppers- & my fav Foo Fighters- i heard the words, actually was able to bypass the catchy tune to hear- and cried very much over the Taylor Swift song about Mean– ~Why You Gotta be so Mean…~ . Then i saw the video– blech.

    Miley Cyrus sounds like Stevie Nicks, to me.

  8. michael reynolds said,

    Take a look sometime at the list of people with whom Billy Preston collaborated. The list of people he didn’t work with is shorter.

    But I’ll admit to not really outgrowing two guitars, bass and drums. I love the best of punk and ska punk — Rancid, Methadones, Green Day, Against Me (when I can tune out their eye-rolling politics.)

    And at risk of inviting attack, I also like Gaga quite a bit and think Eminem is a brilliant guy.

  9. callimachus said,

    Despite my better angels I think Gaga is the stuff. I always liked overachievers anyhow. And she’s really doing all that.

  10. amba12 said,

    Who’s “the boss”?

    I love this thread.

  11. realpc said,

    “That last one is my favorite song from my favorite album. And the one thing you may want to know about the band is that it was their last album. They won’t be coming back again.”

    That’s a really good song. i wasn’t going to listen, because these days I usually don’t like anything written after 1900. But that was really good. Why aren’t they ever coming back?

  12. karen said,

    I totally love Gaga- from her name to her fame– and she’s shtick (hah- do you know how many tries it to to spell that word– here, of all places?!!). I saw here for a sec on Ellen and she was talking about her costumes and her mole that wound up on the wrong side of her face and she showed a little bit of the brain and heart behind the makeup and lights– i bet she’s a great person:0).

    Plus– what a freaking voice. She’s not the ~new Madonna~– she’s what Madonna was seeking(not Susan) when she set out.

  13. Maxwell James said,

    realpc –

    After that album, the lead singer and songwriter decided being famous wasn’t his thing and dropped out of sight. He occasionally pops up here and there, but it’s been over twelve years now and while he’s emerged more recently, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t want to live the rock n’ roll lifestyle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Mangum

  14. realpc said,

    ” it’s pretty clear he doesn’t want to live the rock n’ roll lifestyle.”

    Yeah that lifestyle must be hard. Figuring out how to spend all that money, and constantly being chased by beautiful women. Who knows, maybe he will even miss it, unlikely as that seems. But I hope he does because that sure is a nice song. Well “nice” might not be the right word.

  15. E. said,

    You’re a musical Luddite I guess?

    Interesting, based upon your rant, that people start telling you about all the music they like as if you could give one fuck about it.

    The sound your son shared with you sucked to my ears for the most part, but to each his / her own.

    I put up songs regularly at my blog. Thing I’ve liked since I was a kid and when something that sounds good to me now.

    I lived in Brooklyn for 3 years in the 80’s and haven’t been back until actually next week. My step kid is singing at Lincoln Center a week from tomorrow at a world premiere of a work that his Chorale teacher composed. It will be great to spend some time back in NYC.

    Hope your transition there all goes great for you. Best. E.

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