Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Great Rock n' Roll Swindle

"Nine out of ten of what we call new ideas are simply old mistakes."  
~ G.K. Chesterton

There are two cultish groups in the modern world, both of which contribute to why things are as muddied and confused as they are in the wider culture. I'm not referring to those that prefer to live in their own world at the expense of the one the rest of us live in. These are the secular religious who gain their entire identity from the entertainment they consume. A consequence of being placed in front of a screen and left alone for your formative years, I suppose.

The first is the pop cult of grown children who put their personality, livelihood, and faith, in cheap plastic at the expense of any higher existence. We've covered this type a hundred times, and many other writers have discussed this more succinctly than I. Constructing your identity around a brand or product is demeaning, and disgusting. It's what someone does when they have no idea how to grow up so instead get their morals from the consensus of a tiny group out of joint with tradition or the wider society. Yes, it is a cult.

But that's not what we will be taking a look at today.

The other group is slightly different. This is centered on a gaggle of people who take one piece of one subculture and run with it at the expense of the remainder, chasing out all the impure. These individuals are so selfish and with such a narrow tunnel vision that they cannot see outside of their bubble or understand that their freak, off-center view of the world is anything but normal. Everything is about them, as opposed to conforming to a small murder of cultists.

Not only to they not understand that they are a minority opinion with fringe ideas, but they believe that their strange off-center obsession should be foisted on the larger world. To do this these obsessives sneak into industries under the guise of being allies until they get into a position of power. Once they get said power, they begin to reshape the subculture in their image. Want to know why no medium even slightly resembles what it was even 15 years ago? This group is why.

Once upon a time these people were called poseurs. They don't love things for what they are, they obsess over what these things could be if the right person were given control of them. That right person is, of course, the poseur in question. Their strange hobby will change the world, and only they can see it.

Nowhere is this attitude more prevalent then in the history of music journalism, specifically the Rock world.

For those that don't know what Rock music is, it started as a genre of playing sped up Blues music for teenagers to dance to over 60 years ago. It was a simplistic musical style of three chord (sometimes four) music made of corny love ballads and silly adventure stories meant to entertain the listener while making them want to dance. It was a nutty past-time created for kids and teenagers. That's where it began, as a fun, exuberant musical style.

Gone too young

But then something changed. The music began to get popular and the dollar signs began to flash in the eyes of every record executive, manager, and poseur, in Christendom. The first two have plenty of pieces written about the screw-jobs they initiated, but the latter rarely has. I wrote one post, but that's about all that exists on this topic. It is as if everyone forgot these people were real, and a problem for every subculture since they began. They didn't just go away one day! They still exist. This is because they successfully came in through the backdoor and infiltrated industries. The music industry is the perfect example of this poseur victory. They are the music industry now.

Back in the 1950s, poseurs saw a genre they could co-opt for their own ends, and they did. It took time, but they pushed their way in based on the clueless knowledge of the art from their parent's generation and the uncaring shrugs of politicians of their own. They took culture while everyone else was arguing over policies and the like. They twisted Rock music into a sad mockery of what it began as, before putting the bullet in it themselves and abandoning the genre for rap, bubblegum, and whatever electronic scene is big this week. Now Rock is dead, and in the process of being forgotten.

This all came from abandoning the music's core ambition, and its original goal of entertaining first.

Here is something that wasn't a controversial statement in the 1950s, but is now. Poseurs worked hard to subvert this truism. It is controversial, despite being factual on a level that everyone knows but won't ever say.

So here it goes.

Rock music is for kids.

Teenagers, specifically. It's juvenile at its core, and was always meant to be such as a counterpoint to the more serious Blues. There's nothing wrong with that, but self-conscious adults never wanted to admit they enjoyed silly, corny music. This is why to this day most Baby Boomers still sneer over music made before the four mop tops and are convinced their childish, overproduced self-important three chord songs are better than the previous decade's childish, under-produced goofy three chord songs. A juvenile reaction for lovers of a juvenile genre.

There was a period where rock was meant to be fun, and not up its own rear. The poseurs made sure to bury that era and throw a tarp over it. But that was a long time ago now, and the roots have since been purged from serious discussion over the form.

This is what a Rock song was.

However, around the time Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, died in that plane crash and Rock was thought to be dead, poseurs saw their opportunity. This was their chance to reconstruct the genre in their image. They could make it about grownup stuff! And that's just what they set about doing.

A new form of critic arose in the ashes of The Day The Music Died, determined to convince the world that Rock n' Roll music could be "adult" and "grown up" and simply needed to shed its identity for credibility from . . . some sort of group. I'm not sure who. Perhaps Sam Lundwell or Phil Fish can tell you. What is important is that the mouth-breathers have their hobby or interests destroyed instead and what remains being a hollow and gutted form of what came before. This is why it stopped being called the more apt "Rock n' Roll" title for the more serious "Rock" moniker. The "Roll" part suggested fun, and that was a no-no.

It's a familiar story, and you might have even heard it yourself. The fact of the matter is that "serious" Rock music by "serious" people was a meme created by the music press who existed to shape the genre for proper consumption. What actually sold back in the day was actually far different than what the journalists pushed on the populace. They used their pull to make sure only the "correct" music would get the majority of the coverage on radio and the like.

Recently I had a browse of a site for bad Rolling Stone reviews and was reminded as to just how bad the magazine was, even at its so-called peak. It was just as awful as I remember. You can find the site here. The quotes in this post can all be found there.

Click these quote images to read them as the blog's formatting messes them up. I apologize, but they couldn't be read otherwise and if I copy-pasted this post would be far too long. One click to open the image is a better solution for everyone involved.

This is Rolling Stone magazine, the source of credible music criticism . . . for some reason.

That was about the infamous Wedding Album that John Lennon put out after he broke from the Beatles. One of Lennon's many self-indulgent turkeys that the press gloss over to this day. Wenner's expert criticism relied on making sure the artists he liked were over-hyped and pushed extensively while those he didn't were tossed in the trash. And to a Baby Boomer, John Lennon was a media-approved genius and god.

Was the album any good?

That doesn't matter. It never did.

For an example at how much cred Rolling Stone had even at its formation, you can find it all over this site. They were never unbiased or focused on criticism above all else. They were about selling you a lifestyle of "cool" over corny. It was about shaping identity.

And this is supposed to be the most trustworthy music magazine there is. It should be mentioned that Rolling Stone's problems did not end with Jann Wenner. He merely set the stage for the magazine that would warp Rock n' Roll for years to come.

You will also notice above how childish these people who obsess about pop music "growing up" are. How are these sorts mature enough to decide what "growing up" means? But no one questioned it back then.

Now I will give you a bigger picture as to just what was going on.

Here is an article that sheds some light on it. From critic Robert Christgau, written in the 1970s, where he admits just how much of what is labeled "serious" and "grown up" was manufactured by rock journalists with biased tastes. He is one of the cabal of rock journalists from back in the day who shaped modern music criticism.

He unironically wrote this piece for Rolling Stone called: Yes, There Is a Rock-Critic Establishment (But Is That Bad for Rock?) and the article makes no bones about that assertion that there is a cabal of influencers. No one seemed to notice or care at the time, though. Nowadays I'm not so sure anyone would brag so openly about their subversion, but I digress.

Choice quote:

"Since I am one source of the persistent rumor that Bruce Springsteen is the first rock star in history ever to be propelled into prominence by print information, I feel obliged to qualify it. For one thing, he's probably not the first--possible precedents include Bette Midler (but does she count as rock?), David Bowie (but just how far did we push him?), and (I hate to bring this up) Bob Dylan. Much more important, even a recording artist who is as ideal a critic's hero as Springsteen is depends ultimately on audible media. Although that usually means radio, it doesn't always--the Monkees and the Partridge Family were launched by television shows, while Grand Funk Railroad and ZZ Top built record-biz fortunes from the concert circuit."

You might think he's lying or exaggerating to take credit here, but he's not. Music critics had the power and the connections to pull strings.

Simply look up the reviews on the review site for any of the artists Christgau listed in the quote above. Aside from Bowie who had mixed reception at the time with every new release (this is a man who scraped his way up, critics or not) the reviews for The Monkees and Partridge Family-style groups like The Carpenters are vicious and sneering, only now looked back on by postmodern ironic winking for enjoyment. To this day these groups are an undeserved punchline by serious rock cultists. At the same time hard working road bands such as Grand Funk Railroad and ZZ Top have always been hated by the establishment despite having no pretensions about what they were. But they weren't serious enough to be taken seriously.

Then there is the whole very suspicious and shady dealings in Laurel Canyon in the totally-not-manufactured 1960s hippie movement that involve far too much rabbit hole digging to cover here. The connections formed by these shady happenings in the 1960s changed the musical landscape far more than any of the actual music did. It was about greasing the right palms and massaging the right egos with the right connections. Any semblance of what Rock n' Roll actually began as was washed out by self-important weirdos who can't enjoy anything lighthearted without a heavy layer of irony. It's their cocoon of protection for their self-serious image.

Nonetheless, there has been an influence on the dead end state of pop music that goes beyond any sort of meritocracy and even a bit beyond payola from questionable sources.

You're dealing with True Believers Who Know Better now. The same set of poseurs responsible for destroying every art medium in the 20th century have appointed themselves custodians of culture. They are everywhere, and they are many.

These critics worked hard to make sure you liked the correct things. Very little of what has "endured" is due to cream floating to the top, but by payola and true believer scenesters jury-rigging the process and sliding into positions to make sure the correct things were to be played and supported. Do you think those radio stations were entirely honest about what audiences requested? Why would they need to do that?

If you doubt me then tell me when the last time classic rock radio played a song by The Carpenters or The Big Bopper. They sure weren't doing it in the 1990s.

Another quote:

"Yet I read on, as much from inclination as from duty, and find that a fair portion of what is bad, like some strains of "bad" rock and roll, has the sloppy appeal of all open, democratic phenomena. We hope that what is good is open and democratic in the best way, culling the art (and the craft) (and the fun) from a masscult form that, except during its flash of status in the late '60s, has always been assumed drecky until proven otherwise. Among the best of us, the numerous contradictions of this task have been a subject of discussion and analysis for years. Chris Welles reports gleefully that the lines between "counterculture" and "Establishment" connect rather than separate, and that rock critics strive to retain their fannish fervor, as if we were barely aware of these conundrums. But in fact they have long since become working assumptions, by now passed off in asides or implied in an ironic tone that Welles fails ever to identify: rock critics are disinclined to bore their readers just to make sure media critics get the point."

No comment needed.

He goes on:

"Yet it seems to me that there is a story here, and what's more a story with an unpleasant edge to it. I'm part of the story myself, but not so close to its center that I don't find it disturbing sometimes. Perhaps Welles missed it because he was so entranced by his discovery of the obvious--although Newsweek, which called its treatment "Making of a Rock Star" but never quite explained how he was made, missed it too, and so did Henry Edwards, who could have figured it out if he'd followed his best instincts, which are those of a gossip columnist. For not only is Springsteen a rare instance of a rock musician who owes much of his stardom to print support. Not only does he embody critical standards that no one but Langdon Winner has tried to define with any precision. He also represents the first victory of a brand-new grouping of five journalists who for want of a more felicitous term I have to label the rock-critic establishment."

If you hammer a nail in enough it eventually has to reach the other side, especially if you make sure to limit the available nails and spare boards. Nonetheless, there it is. The establishment true believers who are going to tell you what should be popular or not shoved their noses in the tent and muscled their way inside. It's easy to do if you have a limited pool of what to listen to and what is accessible, and have the right backers, I suppose.

Perhaps this is why no one aside from Baby Boomers has listened to Bruce Springsteen since 1987. They have gotten other options since then, and the cream no longer floats. That is, if it was ever cream to begin with.

He continues:

"The fannishness of rock criticism, which when it works evokes and analyzes good times simultaneously, has less to do with the paucity of solid Springsteen analysis than does its journalistic context--when a star is born you begin with a lot of star-is-born stories. But in the absence of a counter-analysis let me point out some underlying contradictions. The stock explanation of why successful media professionals like Landau and Marsh and Nelson (not so much Rockwell, whose enthusiasm is more purely musical) identify so intensely with an idealized youth rebel like Springsteen is that they want to preserve their own youth, but this is stupid. Say rather that they want to preserve their rebellion. Like most people with a rock and roll jones, these are natural fighters, but they are also adults who live comfortably in the Bloomingdale belt; in some sense, they have won. Springsteen is a fighter, too; he has always played a winningly articulate kind of loser, and now he is rich as well as smart. And so my colleagues both thrill to a fellow winner and identify with his loser rebel persona, forgetting in the rock and roll moment how much the winner in them shares with what the fighter was fighting against."

This is becoming a pattern in the arts, isn't it? Declaring victory over purging normal thought from a medium is a strange way to go about it. But this happens every single time.

As for the "rebellious" nature of Rock n' Roll . . . there isn't any. It's all media hype and sloganeering. The genre was never about rebellion.

I defy you to find a 1950s rock song that has anything even slightly rebellious to it. And no, silly comedy songs about cats and cars don't count. Wanting a date is not rebellious. Serenading a woman is not rebellious. Yes, Elvis Presley swung his hips when he danced, because he was on television and standing still gives the audience nothing to look at. That isn't rebellion, and it's about time we grow up and stop pretending this crafted image is anything other than Baby Boomer self-aggrandizement. The genre is about having fun.

But that's too embarrassing!

Music critics trying to relive their pathetic, rebellious youth is why they had to dig to find meaning in goofy three chord songs and demand their dancing monkeys make material they could rub in Mom and Dad's faces.

And when they didn't get it? Well, Rolling Stone knew what to do.

Just make sure the Good Word is spread! Honesty is secondary to the revolution.

Journalistic credibility was not Rolling Stone's strong suit:

Don't insult the modern prophets! Shut up and consume, kid. All for the glorious Utopian future to come. And these critics brought you there. Hoist those golden statues, plebeians!

When these very mature individuals didn't get their way, they could be just as much a crybaby as the one Mom and Dad sent to their room without dinner years before.

"If you don't let me go to the dance, I'll kill myself! I hate you Mom and Dad!"

This is the sort of person who seized control of an industry. But songs about cats and cars are seen as too juvenile for them.

It's hard to imagine any of this is real sometimes, but there it is.

The finale of Christgau's article:

"I said this story had an unpleasant edge, and that's it. I wrote it because I figured someone who knew whereof he spoke had better put his two cents in, and I put it harshly to make my point. In fact, things ain't so bleak. The rock-criticism establishment has nurtured artists much thought than Springsteen--Randy Newman, Lou Reed, Patti Smith. Moreover, Springsteen's own sentimentality is much preferable to that of the Eagles-style post-folk easy-listening so favored by FM deejays and opposed by us. Compared to The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, which preceded it, Born to Run sacrifices breadth for focus, spontaneity for power, humanistic narrative for expressionistic statement. But even if this is a false step, as some feel, it is not over the brink. For each album enriches the other; the limitations of each encompass an aesthetic stance consciously exploited, rather than defining a stylistic trap. 
"And now things could go either way. Springsteen could formalize down into yet another maudlin trials-of-a-rock-star opus. Or he could reach out and combine humanism and concentration, adding a little of his new media hip for perspective. That's conceivable, and it would really be something. And Landau and Marsh and Rockwell and all the others would have made it possible. Not bad for an establishment, if you ask us."

Thank you, Mr. Christgau for taking the reins and telling us what we lessers should be listening to. I'm happy to learn God descended from Graceland to give you and your pretentious pals authority over what good music is and isn't, and what should be played on the radio. It must have been tough "nurturing" those artists and building their careers for them. It's just a sad thing that none of them have any influence left in the industry, and will have none by the time your generation is gone.

If Springsteen even has any influence left in music it flamed out way back in the 1980s. And the others he listed? Much the same. Now we are left with no more Rock music, good or bad. It's all corporate-approved Clear Channel trash. You critics helped that come about, too! Don't forget to take credit for the state of music today.

Your "rebellious" spirit led to billion dollar corporations owning the stupid music industry from what once used to be about a few guys in a bar singing to shift workers about cars and girls. Give yourself a round of applause!

But we're giving journalists too much credit! They had many successes, however, we can't give them credit for their achievements without also pointing out their failures. It s only fair.

You see, despite how "progressive" and "forward-thinking" these self-important critics are, they are still prone to get it wrong . . . most of the time.

Okay, almost all of the time.

I should also point out that these critics have missed the boat on every single rock genre since the Beatles, and colossally at that. These experts in criticism have never once understood or clicked with a genre, as if they had to be given a cheat sheet to understand what they were about. Here are some examples below of their genius:

Note: While Lester Bangs revised his opinion on the band, Rolling Stone did not. They trashed them in their music guides up until the '00s when Metal began to be seen as cool by hipsters and self-serious scene kids. Rolling Stone missed the entire boat when it came to Metal and landed directly in the bay.

There are other bad examples:

This David Bowie produced album more or less started Post-Punk and inspired countless bands from U2 to Joy Division. Ian Curtis even listened to this album on the day he killed himself. Urban legend was that Mass Production was playing on his turntable when his body was found. This indicates that there might be something more to this album, and something inspiring at that.

Amazing that mature, grownup expert critics could entirely miss any of this. But they are the experts so shut up, pleb.

On one of the first punk albums:

This is about the first Dictators album, but it is not the only punk band they trashed. Richard Hell, The Damned, Television, Wire, The Jam, Devo, The Saints, Jonathan Richman, Suicide, Blondie . . . they didn't understand any of them or what their music was. All they saw was "rough", "sloppy", and "silly", just like the 1950s music they dismiss and need to bury all traces of. You can see the reviews for yourself.

It turns out Boomer critics were far too self-serious to understand the point of Punk was literally to be the opposite of what they championed. But I guess that's Gen X in a nutshell.

But they were just as hard on goofy entertainment-oriented bands that weren't rambunctious or rowdy!

On the third album of one of the most unique bands of the 1970s:

And on a brilliant songwriter ignored by the press for writing silly songs:

Stiff-necked to a fault:

And the topper:

As can be seen, they ran wild with this attitude of self-serous fun haters for a very long time. Every Punk and Metal album is disregarded as trash because they weren't "mature" or "grown up" enough for the clique. Hard Rock, Blues, and Boogie bands were all but ignored or tossed in the trash as redundant and not having enough important to "say", as well. This sounds all too familiar, does it not? This behavior only makes sense if you understand they were working for an agenda and not to inform the customer about their interest.

What these critics wanted were "thoughtful" pieces and "adult" subject matter from music established on goofiness. It was completely backwards. They needed to be thought of as respectable above all else. No, Rock n' Roll was not founded on rebellion, drugs, or sex, despite what their overreacting parents thought or the self-serious Boomers taught themselves and their kids to believe. It was founded on being silly, entertaining the audience, and escapism. What the musicians did in their spare time is not reflected in the music of the 1950s and early '60s. It's simply not there, because it didn't exist. It's a complete fabrication used as a marketing device.

And those mature artists the magazines pushed? Surely they were exceptional people that lived up to their name and the fawning the press gave them over the hardworking blue collar bar bands? After all, if they were so important as to redefine an entire genre and landscape they must be moral paragons and worthy of you bowing to them.

Well, no. In fact, it was the opposite.

I'm at a loss as to how broken, moral hedonists are supposed to help guide the life of the common man trying to do his best. This slop was pushed over songs of imagination and lighthearted fun. Of course, this is if you believed any of that was for the listener's benefit. It very obviously was not, as established above.

The fact is that it only led music down a thin road to nowhere that had to be bailed out several times by outsiders from punks to metalheads to blues and garage revivalists, many of whom were initially hated by the press until they could backpedal and claim they were always on their side to begin with. Music critics were never on their side, they just wanted to be at the forefront of the revolution. It's not about music, and it never was.

Destroy, build, destroy. The process repeated all the way up until the confused postmodern wailings of Kurt Cobain trying to make art out of saying Verse, Chorus, Verse and lamenting that there is no originality left. You have to be important, not good.

As critic cabal member and future Springsteen acolyte Jon Landau said about being one of the chosen few:

So you become this guy

All this from goofy teenager music about holding hands and dancing. You hated joy so much you let your own hubris crush your soul to become a peddler of corporate product.

The result of all these games from adult children? A fractured, and hollowed out genre.

"Thought to be strictly for teenagers", indeed. I want you to look at early concert footage of the Beatles and tell me how many adults you see at their shows. Find me any evidence of an adult in the 1960s that took the British Invasion as anything other than annoying fad. Show me movies that portray Rock n' Roll as anything other than music for silly kids.

You can't do it.

Sorry, but even then, it was kid music. That never changed just because you change chords around or add distortion to it. The song remains the same. The Beatles were marketed to kids. They always were.

None of this is bad, either. But it needs to be accepted. The reason the genre is up its own rear and a joke today is because of the inability to accept that truth. You're not part of a revolution and you're not going to change the world. You're writing simplistic music. Why isn't that enough for you?

Trying to whitewash that lighthearted segment of your genre has left you with the self-serious/hyper-ironic dichotomy that has strangled any creativity out of it. No one has any fun anymore, and critics love it so much they still give every album they review a 4.4/10 or lower anyway. What a lovely existence or self-serious misery.

Remember, rock music was built on songs like this:

And now we have people bashing those who play music like this:

Do you not see the issue? The early example is what rock started as. The latter is no different near 30 years removed and yet is dumped on and deliberately ignored by supposed "critics" of said genre as if it is outdated. This despite it being closer to the origin of the genre than a James Taylor type. These are both silly, fluffy songs meant to make you move. This is what Rock n' Roll is. This is its legacy, its tradition, and what it started as.

And the critics hate it.

Critics hate what the music is at its core, and need to change it to suit their image of it instead. In other words, they detest what the genre is and what it stands for.

This is why pop music is dead. More than "changing trends" or other options for listeners or whatever excuse you want to give it. The industry wanted their hyper-serious crybaby garbage to be what rock music was about at the expense of what built said genre to begin with. Now they have it, and it's as irrelevant as ever.

This is because they never liked the music to begin with: they liked that one piece of it they cherished above everything else. In the process of pushing and shoving their views they ended up crushing the life and vitality of a genre that could have made it much longer and gone to more places than it did. We will never know what could have been, and the cultists are the reason why.

And now these critics move on to testosterone-free underground indie rock obsessed with sniffing Thom Yorke's used socks from 1998, and the four hundredth gangsta rap crap factory that hasn't changed one iota since the mid-90s.

Rock n' Roll isn't allowed to stay what it began as, but these crap genres that have remained static longer than it ever has gets a pass for their stagnant state. There is no consistency with this group. This is why no one should take these critics seriously. They aren't serious; they're fetishists. And they have helped warp an entire musical genre into a walking corpse of a joke.

These aren't experts, they never were. These are self-important hedonists with a thesaurus looking for a religion replacement, telling you why you require meaning in a genre founded on songs called Johnny B. Goode and Twenty Flight Rock. Why should you be having fun after a hard day of work when your entertainment can make you think instead? Demand more by having less fun.

Sure you could go to Church or read an author like Dostoevsky instead, but that requires actual thinking and effort. Why seek out knowledge when you can have the nihilism pumped directly into your head through catchy candy corn instead? Intellectualism at work!

Truly the position of a deep thinker with complex thoughts. No wonder so many of these artists kill themselves or fall into drug comas all the time. They must have important lessons to impart on the filthy peasants. Anything to avoid the stinging truth that they made their parent's criticism about them right after all. You made the music into the corrupting force they believed it to be. Now, that is a sad realization. All that rebellion just to prove Mom and Dad were right. Maybe the last 60 years of Boomer cultural upheaval should be reexamined. It's going to be hilarious when all that is erased.

But I'm getting off-topic.

Yes, you can have pop music with thought put into it. Smart pop music exists, usually by those with a sense of humor. You can also have overwritten pompous garbage, too. But neither are the goal of the genre in question. You are not a literary author, you are an entertainer. Rock n' Roll is about entertainment above all else.

Rock n' Roll is a showman's genre: it's meant to entertain, and to lift. It's far more than the post-Nirvana whining sludge it has been stuck in for the last twenty years. It used to be much more to far more people than it is now.

And that's why it had to go.

It's also why it's not coming back. This is what they wanted to begin with. Now you have a lifeless genre for uptight, smug urbanites and greasy, antisocial geeks with nothing in-between for the common man. Take it in and savor it. It's dead, Jim.

So before Rolling Stone goes out of print and is forgotten to the mists of time and history like it deserves to be, let us instead celebrate the good times we had, and the good times still yet to come. We can't go back to the past, but we can learn from its mistakes.

Keep looking up, above the muck and the miserable. There is always hope for a better day ahead.

I'm bringing back the fun in my own way. Check out seven stories of monsters, magic, and mobsters, in the dark city. Superheroes and noir are all over this one. There's nothing quite like it!

Find it Here!


  1. I think that's just a bit unfair to Springsteen.

    Speingsteen's music is...fine. Just fine. Above average.

    But - as my father who didn't like Springsteen at all before he saw him live attests - his live concerts are amazing. Even people I know who didn't like him were over the moon about him when they saw him live. And I'm inclined to believe them.

    So is he the musical genius the press pretends he is? No.

    Can he put on a hell of a show?

    If people I know are to be trusted, absolutely.

    1. Yep, he's a good musician. He wrote some good songs back in the day, too.

    2. I read that whole thing to basically say the same thing. I don't really know his own work but his Live in Dublin album is a ton of fun to listen to. Lennon hate I understand.

  2. Rolling Stone was founded by an actual betacuck. Because of course it was.

  3. I have to give credit to Little Steven's Underground Garage on XM. Despite Steve Van Zandt's fawning over the Boss and pretentious monologues, he and the other DJs actually-get- rock and roll. Real rock and roll, even though they play their own bands a little too much. Between that station and Rick Beato's YouTube channel (he gets it right more often than not), that's all the rock journalism I need. I started to suspect the game was rigged reading Rolling Stone when I worked in a library as a teen, and then...reading Michael Azerad's "Our Band Could Be Your Life" (seriously, we get it, you hated Reagan, got it), and after reading Jim Derogatis's books. I quit after that. I started to see right through the BS in NME, Alternative Press, it all just started to read like bad fanfic.

    1. Yeah, I have my issues with the Springsteen cult, but the guys in the band did promote and push bands, some of which sounded radically different than they did.

      I'm honestly surprised at how much the movie Almost Famous neatly nails the hollow nature of the music business, fandom, and music criticism, in one fell swoop. It's such an embarrassing thing to look back on.

  4. Serious question, who actually reads Rolling Stones? I have never meet anyone who admits to buying and reading that magazine.

    1. No idea. It's kept in print for reasons I can't even imagine.

  5. I laughed at those "reviews" about Uriah Heep and Rush. And regarding the latter, I believe one issue was that their drummer was libertarian-leaning; so not cool! RIP Neil Peart, my favourite drummer since I was 10-years old.

  6. I would also say something in the defence of Springsteen. Now, it seems that he indeed was and is a darling of the gatekeeper media. I didn't personally know that, since I have never paid any attention to critics. But despite that, he is good musician and even more, a god-tier entertainer. My little story:

    It was the late summer of 2012 and The Boss was coming here in Finland. My mother was going to that concert but she had to cancel her plans. My dad was about to go in her place before he asked if I wanted to go. I thought, "why not?" and took the ticket. I left and joined my good friend and travelled to the stadium. I knew a handful of songs and had heard of his reputation as a good performer. But boy, were we in for a ride.

    The 60-year old Boss rocked with the E Street Band, and better than most young musicians. He played the longest gig of his career, 4:06 hours (a record that still holds). And that is not counting the "warm up" which was Springsteen himself doing a half an hour acoustic set. I remember us wondering why there was music playing even if the concert wasn't supposed to begin in another hour. But as we stepped to the stadium field we saw him playing and singing on stage, wearing sunglasses. At that moment, I knew we were in for something special. We had so much fun that night, it was one of the happiest days on my life; it was like one massive party. That experice was what C.S. Lewis once described as being "surprised by joy”. I still remember that day crystal-clear as it was yesterday.

    That gig got me interested in his music. I got to see him one more time in 2013, a gig almost as good as the previous one. So even if he has been somewhat propped up throughout his career, he is a genuine rocker who encapsulates its original spirit. His music is good but live-experience is where it's really at. It's escapist, joyful, sentimental, a bit corny...with one word: fun.

    This is what the showman himself has to say about his mission:

    “For an adult, the world is constantly trying to clamp down on itself,” he says. “Routine, responsibility, decay of institutions, corruption: this is all the world closing in. Music, when it’s really great, pries that shit back open and lets people back in, it lets light in, and air in, and energy in, and sends people home with that and sends me back to the hotel with it. People carry that with them sometimes for a very long period of time.”

    That could be summarized in his slogan, as to what he wants from his live audiences: “your back hurting, your voice sore, and your sexual organs stimulated.”

    For those two times I have witnessed him and his band live, I can contest to both quotes. Too bad he is so old. No-one can pull this off at stadium-level anymore. Not many are even performing ”live” anymore, in the sense that they wouldn't use backing tracks. With the E Street Band, everything is organic.

    Well, all good things...