Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Off topic Tuesday: Today's music blows, I'm getting old, and you kids get off my lawn!

I was over at The Hangout, the new message board over at KA.com, and there was a thread asking,"What are you currently listening to?" As there isn't much happenng on the Detroit sports scene (How many times can I bitch about Todd Jones before it gets redundant?), I thought I'd expound upon the thoughts I gave over there...

I used to follow music the way I still follow sports. I got hooked on rock radio as a kid, as my mom was a religous CKLW (Back in "The Big 8" days) listener. I discovered FM radio and the album oriented rock stations in the D when I was 12 or so (WRIF, W4, WABX), and a whole new world was opened up to these virgin ears. I jumped in with both feet, and never looked back.

I read all the music rags. Hit Parader sucked, Rolling Stone was OK, if more than a touch elitest, but I loved the Detroit based Creem magazine. I bought vinyl and 8 tracks the first day an album hit the streets, AOR was all over the radio dial and became the soundtrack of my life, and I went to tons of shows. If someone I heard on the radio was coming to play Cobo, I was there. Remember D.R.E.A.D. cards? I was a proud card carrying member of "Detroit Rockers Engaged in the Abolition of Disco."

Then we had the golden age of MTV, which exposed me to more cool music. I spent the 80's expanding my boundries even further away from my arena rock roots. The first time you hear bands like the Clash and the Ramones, it's a life changing experience.

But something happened thru the years. MTV turned into a lifestyle channel. FM radio began narrowcasting, placing music in predetermined niches, and turning off listeners in droves. The record industry made me buy the same music over and over, in at least 5 different formats. (Vinyl, 8 track, casette, CD, digital) I found that as I got older, I didn't have the time or the inclination to find the lastest and greatest in music. Worst of all, songs by great bands like AC/DC, the Clash, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, to name just a few, are being used, not as anthems, but to sell crap to an aging population. You tend to become disillusioned when you hear "London Calling" used to pimp Jaguars.

The last era where I actively bought music was early 90's grunge. When you think about it, that was the last time true guitar based rock 'n roll ruled the pop culture landscape. Then Kurt Cobain had to go and kill himself, Eddie Vedder spent more time railing against Ticketmaster than making good music, the bands I had followed thru the years began to get old and less active/vital, rap and teen pop took center stage, and my tastes in music began to stagnate. Or maybe the music industry just plain moved on as it always had, but this time without me.

There has been some interest since then but it's been sporatic at best. I'll attend a concert, but it has to be someone special, at least to me. I still occasionally buy music, but it tends to be greatest hits packages. When I download, 90-95% is from grunge era on back. I tried to read Pitchfork, but to me, the reviews come off as being written by pretentious hipster doofuses who think they are too cool for the room.

For that matter, I have no idea who's on the charts, and I don't feel like I'm missing much. For example, here's this weeks top 10 on the Billboard album chart.

1. Dixie Chicks - I know them more for their political views than their music.
2. "High School Musical" soundtrack - Disney? Tweens and teens have no taste in music anymore. I'd rather hear Louis Prima sing "I Wanna Be Like You" from "The Jungle Book."
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Somehow, someway, a decent band is on the charts. Probabably some sort of mistake on Billboard's part.
4. Rascal Flatts - Who? Aren't they a boy band for the country bumpkin crowd?
5. "American Idol Season 5" soundtrack - I've never watched AI or heard any of the songs that came out of it, and I'm proud of it. I have my standards...
6. "Now 21" singles package - They sold a Now 1-20? Who knew?
7. Tool - I know some of their stuff, again surprising to see a rock band this high.
8. Carrie Underwood - See #5. Who listens to this premanufactured pap?
9. James Blunt - The sensitive singer/songwriter thing was done better by James Taylor 30 years ago.
10. Shakira - Gesundheit!

Boy howdy, now I really feel old.

I think I'm going to fire up a 25 year old Robert Plant album (Pictures at Eleven), and revel in my total lack of hipness. When it comes to music, I try to live by what noted rock critic Homer Simpson so famously said...

"Why do you need new bands? Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It's a scientific fact."

Homer should know, he's a Grand Funk Railroad fan...


  1. What a great post! I feel exactly the way you do and to be honest I tuned out the radio a long time ago. Reading what you wrote is pretty much exactly how the music scene has been for me. I actually feel the same way about Pitchfork but I read it anyway.

    If you ever need some new music, let me know I have a friend in the biz and he shoots me things he knows that I will like. It seems like we have the same taste in tunes.

    FYI Pictures at Eleven is one of my all-time favorites. Good call I’m going to fire it up right now.

  2. Thanks Nat! Glad to hear that you are a kindred spirit. I may take you up on the music offer...

    Going to listen to some Plant? Shouldn't you be watching the NBA Finals instead? I agree, Plant's the better choice.