Friday, May 16, 2008

On bloggers, memes and music

I tend not to respond to bloggers' memes for a couple of reasons.

It's not out of rudeness, I trust - it's just that most of the time I don't know the answers to the questions.

I'm not very good, for example, at deciding who or what is my favourite author, novel, poet, poem, film, director, composer is. They change from week to week, month to month.

And some of this shit I'm not interested in - which brings me to the second point: I don't think they exactly encourage intellectual honesty. No-one, for example, ever answers the question, "What are you reading now?", with, "Fuck all - by the time I've got the we'an to bed I'm too tired/stoned/broken-hearted to read a fucking book", do they? Or, "I don't have a favourite composer - my tastes are strictly plebian and I hate classical music". Maybe that's because it's just me.

But Martin's is worth responding to because I'd been thinking about bloggers and music: even with, or especially with, those bloggers you like and respect - how rare it is to come across music they link to that I even recognise. And even when I recognise it, with the exception of Eric who stuck up an AC/DC link once, and Will who put the Manics up - both here - I don't recall ever coming across a blogger-linked song I've ever liked.

What the fuck is this, for example, from Martin's own list? The only artist I recognise is Bruce Springsteen - who was, and is, complete shit, in my view.

Or Paulie's? The only thing I recognise here is The Specials - who were like shit having a bad day.

Tastes are divergent - mine are deviant, I'd accept - but I can't help wondering if bloggers really like this shit or if they're trying a wee bit too hard to be different, minority, cool, authentic?

Anyway, I liked this meme because it asked what we are listening to now - for whatever reason. Jus' so happens I think I've got a YouTube link for most of these cos I've just wired up some sound to my computer an' that's what I've been doing. Here's some with a wee explanation - I trust you'll find these choices too mainstream and uncool for your tastes.

Song #1

A lot of bloggers are about the same age as me so grew up with the same kind of music. While most of them seem to have retained some kind of affection for it - by and large I hated it. I was learning to play guitar at the time. Was there ever a decade since the 1950s less suited to this enterprise? I think not. It was full of people, like Duran Duran, who - had we lived in a civilised society - would have been executed on the spot. This was ok, though. I remember a video jukebox in the pub we used to drink in when I was about 18. This was the only song on it I liked.

Song #2

'Stairway to Heaven' for the acid house generation. Unlike #1, this isn't so much of a nostalgia exercise because I came to it comparatively late. A friend of mine complains that it's overplayed - but it is 'overplayed' because it's really good. I never learned to read and write so well but I can play the guitar just like ringing a bell so let me tell you with a certain claim to authority - most musicians are complete assholes. They tell drummer jokes, for example. These are like Irish jokes, only less funny. And they are, by and large, a bunch of snobs who can't recognise when people are better at their craft than they are. Such is the case with Slash here. Guitar snobs would dismiss him as vulgar, unsubtle. As if when rock and roll is concerned this counts as a criticism. But it's better than that: all heavy rock is essentially the repetition of a riff played against a blues structure. This is the case here - except here the staple riff is played on the high notes. What's so special about that? Apart from Clapton on Layla, or Jimmy Page on Black Dog, apparently no one else thought of doing it - there simply is no other tune that is instantly recognisable in this way. Furthermore, I have never heard Clapton nor Page using the harmonic structure in the way Slash does here. If you know otherwise, answers in the comments please.

Song #3

Listening to this because I always do. It's my favourite Stones song. The brooding menace of the introduction, the grinding sensuality of this dark song - what's not to like? If you don't like this, you are insane and I refuse to talk to you.

Song #4

Man - the break-up blues. Into the third month and some days, most days, it feels like it happened yesterday. I wish I had died in Paris. I could explain this remark but I won't. Anyway, what to do when you're in this state? Listen to some blues and soul - that's what you do. Well, I do anyway - and here's a recent discovery - like, the last week, for me. This gal can really sing.

Song #5

When I was learning to play geetar, I couldn't see past Reckless John for years. Here he plays with his old sparring partner, the great Danny Thompson. I saw Thompson recall how they never rehearsed - they just went from the pub into the studio, or gig, or whatever and just did it. On the video you can see this, with Thompson waiting for the first few bars to see what the fuck our John was doing. How he was able to do this, I don't understand. The tuning that John is using is DADGAD, if anyone's interested. I know this, and I can see it but it's still difficult to work out what he's doing here. Anyway, this is the best song from this album and it's the best version - shame about the sound quality.

That's five. There's plenty of others I could link. But I'm doing a repetition of the above a lot of the time.

Here's #6 - John with our Danny again.

Here's #7. Not liking this is indicative of having no testicles. Nice homage to Madonna around 2.50 on this - the difference here being, as I've already said, this gal can actually sing.

I won't tag anyone else with this on the Golden Rule grounds: do unto others and all that...

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