21 thoughts on “A first time for everything

    1. You’re obviously not a subscriber. John Lennon and Bob Dylan have been on the cover of RS so often over the years that people suspect Jann Wenner has mancrushes on them. The marketing strategy is to keep disparate elements of the music base interested by keeping 60’s pop icons alive while appealing to younger readers with current big names. It’s like holding a political party together.

      Wenner also has man love for Obama. He too is a regular on the cover.


    1. You probably won’t quite feel this, Liz, but my parents, when exposed to Beatles music in the 60’s (which was actually melodic), cringed and covered their ears. I listened to this song and then read the lyrics and then Wiki’d and realized that I am my parents now.


  1. So, I was at lunch today and I saw a copy of Rolling Stone from last February. Who was on the cover? David Bowie. The headline was “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust: How David Bowie Changed the World.”

    Mark, I guess you were right.


  2. realized that I am my parents now

    Your parents might have misjudged the Beatles, but I wouldn’t bet on the long term stock of Clutch et al.


    1. Clutch, I learned, has been around since 1990.

      Music preferences are engrained in our youth, like grooves on a vinyl record, and persist throughout life. Judgements about quality are akin to “beauty,” in the ear of the beholder. I don’t like most current offerings, Binge and Purge, for example, as it is harsh and non-melodic, but the words are intriguing. It seems to me that this generation likes highly repetitive overtones embedded with well-thought lyrics. But I still don’t like it.


    1. Pretty nice – over the last thirty years there are occasionally songs written that appeal to us older folks – the melody-harmony driven types. Stuff like Come Sail Away, Rhythm of My Heart, New Slang – that type of thing, that keep us old farts interested. Grunge had an odd appeal to me – the atonal atonal background … but non-melodiic throbbing sounds like rap and hip hop are mostly what I was talking about. They do not speak to me. Our son-in-law is a musician (who installs granite countertops for a living), and he can barely survive a trip to the store with its elevator music of poppy crap – he likes anything out of the mainstream. I can see that, but my brain cannot be entertained by that kind of sound,


  3. before you rag on hip-hop, you might want acknowledge how black folks have been culturally looted by the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

    hip hop wasn’t about trying to entertain white folks, though teen suburbanites became commercial raps most lucrative demographic.

    still, check out this song by The Coup

    and for a bit of reflective, consciousness hip hop, here’s Blackalicious:


  4. I don’t mean to ‘rag’ on hip hop any more than I would on opera. It’s not judgment on others and their culture and tastes. I happen to be pedestrian in taste, and so hip hop does not reach me, nor opera. I would bore you silly with music I like, not that I even listen much.

    I suggest that all music feeds on other music, that any one who hears music is influenced by what they hear. How can that not be the case?

    Fat Cats had a nice back beat – loved the piano. The cultural message is potent. Shallow Days doesn’t reach me. But music enters younger brains so much easier than older ones. It bypasses filters, goes straight to the brain, so it is subversive. If hip hop is subversive, more power to them.


  5. you might want acknowledge how black folks have been culturally looted by the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

    Sounds like an overstatement. The fruits of Black culture are pretty sparse. I don’t get this current anxiety to trumpet Black achievement.

    he can barely survive a trip to the store with its elevator music of poppy crap

    I’d say this is a bit contrived, considering the discordant traffic sounds and slamming doors one encounters on the way to the store, like the guy who can no longer drink tap water after acclimating his palate to bottled water. Wasn’t that one of the jokes in Gilligan’s Island: the rich guy couldn’t participate in some of the survival tasks because his tastes were too refined?

    Another look at the Clutch video: here’s a Tim Wilson riff on modern life in a more pleasing style and melody, yet I suggest with more power, uploaded in 2007 with two million hits, while the harsh Clutch offering, uploaded in 2008, has two hundred thousand hits, a factor of ten less.


    1. Contrived? He’s my son-in-law, has an excellent ear for music, plays several instruments and can hardly stand a trip to the store due to the music that is played over loudspeakers. He is his own man.

      The rest of what you say – I don’t know your point. Tastes vary, some are more popular, and music listeners have ears with different sensitivities. Your idea that there are universals in objective taste is not true.


  6. Wine connoisseurs are notoriously bad at blind taste tests. Some people only watch pro football because they can hardly stand college or high school football. Seems more like rule governed behavior than contingency governed behavior.

    My point is that Clutch isn’t much of an addition to music compared to the Beatles or even a Tim Wilson comedy song. You’ve got this radical egalitarian schtick going on to where you think every fart in the wind could be canonized if David Koch puts his money behind it. But all little girls instinctively go for the classic Barbie doll because it embodies general traits of feminine beauty: fair features; large, wide set eyes; a certain hip to waist ratio. Behavioral psychologists have done experiments showing that people and animals have a wide general agreement on the idealized, iconic examples of objects in nature. Think of a picture of a tree. That image is pretty universal, even if we can’t find an exact example in nature. Pigeons are shown to agree on iconic fish pictures, even though they have no significant experience with fish. Good music shares some features: tension and release, musical scaling in the human experience. You like to think everything is subjective, but this is a mechanism to free you from having to make value judgments that might hurt someone’s feelings.


    1. Also: if the son-in-law has any kids, and they squeak and wheeze their way through a music recital at a young age, I bet it is plenty sweet to his ear.


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