Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Meditation On Music And Such

My brother Otis can sure put a good rant on when he sets his mind to it. Here's a little something he sent me yesterday that I thought was worth sharing. (He said it was okay.)

I'd disavow his comments, except that I pretty much agree with most everything he says here.



I had to get up at 4:00 AM today and drive across the desert to Needles, and since I lacked the foresight to burn a few good road CDs the night before, I found myself desperately flipping through the meager selection of radio stations available on I-40. THREE TIMES on THREE DIFFERENT STATIONS I heard the news item about Justin Timberlake inducting Madonna into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and each time the announcer heaped scorn and derision on the event. Fair enough, but each time, the announcer also crowed and gloated about John "Don't Call Me Cougar" Mellencamp finally getting in, as if that was some kind of long-overdue correction of a terrible oversight.

Worse yet, on one station they blathered and blithered about the whole thing for over ten minutes, expressing pissy disdain over Madonna getting in (which I can understand), but also (to my puzzlement) lambasting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the decision to bestow the same honor on the Ventures and the Dave Clark Five, both of whom they compared unfavorably with Mellencamp. The egg-fart miasma of their high dudgeon at the thought of the Mighty Coug being forced to share the limelight with the Ventures seemed to almost seep out of my radio. I couldn't figure it out... even if you were the kind of brain-damaged fuck-eyed swamp ape who might own a reverently cherished complete collection of Mellencamp recordings stored in protective plastic sleeves in a humidity-controlled vault, you'd have to realize that the Ventures were great, right? I mean, even if you were too stunted and blind to see that the Ventures were cooler than Mr. Jesus Christ Mellencamp by several orders of magnitude, you'd still have to recognize that they were cool enough for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Right? Right?!?

Just then I had a bit of an epiphany.

The first thing that struck me was the fact that, as time goes on, the so-called Classic Rock stations are playing less and less listenable music, and more and more mullet rock, sausage rock, and phony-little-bantam-weight-tough-guy-in-parachute-pants-with-a-high-raspy-voice rock. If I was 12 years old and habitually listened to the 2008 version of Classic Rock on the radio, I'd be convinced that the fucking Eagles (fuck the fucking Eagles!) were about a million times bigger than the Beatles back in the day, and that Eddie Money, Thin Lizzy, and Golden Earring were serious rock heavyweights instead of what they really were: the '70s equivalent of the Insane Clown Posse.

I realized that the main reason for this long slow drift into a horror dimension of alternative history in which lametastic bogan-rock ruled the '70s was due to the fact that pretty much everyone who was able to tell the difference between suck-rock and the good stuff back in 1975 had been endowed with enough taste and discernment to eventually move on into new territory as rock mutated into New Wave, Punk, and post-Punk modalities. This has left virtually no one to carry the Classic Rock torch (which has fizzled out and been turned upside down to be worn as a dunce cap), aside from witless former Camaro enthusiasts who proudly sported moustaches in the '80s, and guys who spent what should have been the best years of their lives sullenly, doggedly wearing the grooves off albums like Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and Rush's '2112' while darkly muttering about the purple-haired mohawked freaks who had infected them with herpes via secret and anonymous back-alley trysts with their girlfriends. The people running the great sputtering engine that is Classic Rock today are the grown-up versions of those guys who threw a cup of hot coffee at me as they drove by in a pickup truck when I was a punk rock teenager nearly three decades ago. As I recall, they cleverly shouted something inane and irrelevant about the B-52s as they sped off, inducing a "what the fuck?" cognitive dissonance that imprinted the memory on me forever.

When I got home this evening, I looked online to see who else had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, and was mildly surprised to see Leonard Cohen's name on the list as well, since they hadn't said anything about him on the radio. Disagree if you like, but I personally regard Cohen's work as a poet and musician to be a huge mockery of all that is real, right, and good. As an artist, the man is a clunky little dumptruck, a fakety-fake-o cardboard cut-out. He's a sheltered, coddled trust-fund baby who pulled the wool over countless eyes with his pointless insincere wankings by virtue of being obtuse and obscure enough to generate some interest in the minds of those who are automatically impressed by anyone working in the relatively rarified idiom of vaguely glum pseudo-intellectual minimalism. I guess it's pretty easy to seem deep when your only real problem in life is how to keep a woman around for more than a week. Aside from being featured on the soundtrack to Robert Altman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller", Cohen's only real contribution to any culture worth preserving has been as the inspiration for the Austin Lounge Lizards' excellent song "Leonard Cohen's Day Job". Still, he's practically Keith Richards and God rolled into one in comparison with John Chewturd Mellencamp. Presumably because the species of organ grinder's assistant who regularly masturbated to the musical stylings of Journey and Foreigner when they were young never even heard of Leonard Cohen, the boss jocks on the radio this morning didn't bother to mention him.

As I was reading about all this online, I noticed the spelling used by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The clowns who run the place actually spell it "Rock and Roll", not "Rock 'n' Roll". Suddenly, somehow, it all made sense.

Please kill me.
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