Wednesday, June 30, 2004

It's 2 AM

[Grain of salt alert: this is coming from someone who still can't make heads or tails of hyperstition. Maybe I'm slow.]

Look, I take it as a given that anything exclusively appreciated by the white middle classes is probably suspect. They / we are not the engine of popular culture, that's obvious...

This is, I feel, the crux of Mark K-Punk's epic Glastonbury rant, even though it only comes in the comments. It's hinted at in the body of the piece:

balding accountants getting down to Basement Jaxx, Jemima studying Fine Arts at Sussex being 'blown away' by Macca ('he was so gid!')

What irks me about this line of argument (apart from the fact that I'm a Sussex alum, perhaps) is that it is bases musical value judgements on who makes music and, worse, on who listens to it. While a music and its audience are not wholly separate things, invective based on the perceived origins of both generally has little to do with the quality of the music. What if you like something, only to find out that it is made and/or listened to by the wrong people? Granted, Mark does also throw in

The bill was almost parodicallly LCD MOR, so safe and organic and wholesome and unimpeachable and uncontroversial:

Macca! Oasis! Franz Ferdinand!

but this is counter-balanced by a rather absurd focus on age:

No black folks of course unless they're well into their sixties (James Brown; Toots and the Maytals), but no whiteys EITHER unless they're into their sixties (Macca) or sound like they could be in their sixties (Franz Ferdinand, Scissor Sisters)...

Yes, James Brown has been thoroughly de-fanged: do music stores still carry a non-Greatest Hits album? But the generalisation is spurious: the best concert I saw last year was given by Peter Broetzmann, who must be at least approaching sixty, if he hasn't passed it by now. This also ties in with the aspect of community and embourgeoisement.

I mean, music in a field - in the daytime? Wtf? It's almost deliberately delibidinizing....

Apart from questions of sound quality, I find it odd that quelqu'un qui parle d'embourgeoisement would also deride the outdoors as a venue for music. It seems to me that taking music indoors is the first step towards gentrification: chamber music, the merchant's daughter playing the latest tunes for her parents in the salon, the rigidity of the concert hall... Contrast this with music colliding with the living sounds of the market-place, the gypsy's assemblage of mobile homes, the instant mash-up of rolled-down car windows and street-corner musicians... Similarly, having something more than a weeks-long generation gap is less a sign of stagnation than of community. Let's see where James Brown came from and what crowds he played for before becoming internationally famous.

balding accountants

Can they be hip enough? Could they make music hip enough? Could they make music at all? Crucially, I must believe so. Then again, I'm not very worried about who's driving pop culture. I'm more worried that people are able to take themselves out of commercial relationships to everything and create their own art: strum or paint or run or write or talk. It's our first line of defence against so many alienations, that to deny people even the possibility of doing this or doing it vicariously, even implicitly, rankles me.

They / we are not the engine of popular culture, that's obvious...

Too much complexity is hidden in this assertion to let it stand unquestioned: commercial engine? creative engine?

A tactical nuclear strike wd have taken out virtually everything that's debilitating, deadening and reactive about the Brit culture industry

Irony (cf. comments)? Hyperbolic sarcasm, more likely. And yet: Muse is probably in Mark's LCD MOR sights, so the news of the death, at Glastonbury, of the band's drummer's father and the subsequent cancellation of future concerts is a step in the right direction, no?

I'm gone, this post is still very rough.