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Re: sloanpolitik


On Thu, 29 Feb 1996, Michael Damian Catano wrote:

> On Wed, 28 Feb 1996, James R. Covey wrote:
> > hey james rocchi,
> > 
> > i read the christgau piece too.  he admits that's
> > he's being very hypocritical by complaining about
> > apolitical music on one hand and worshipping the
> > archers of loaf on the other.  
I wouldn't quite say that Christgau is being hypocritical.  He just 
assumes that during times of political upheaval there'll be SOME artists 
who take up the banner of political activism.  He recognizes that the 
Archers aren't going to be one of them and accepts that.  It's the 
overall culture of pop music that he bemoans for not getting it up for a
coherent response to Gingrich/Dole/Giuliani; not this or that band.

> but the fact that they [the Archers] 
> recorded what essentially amounts to a concept record ("vs. the greatest 
> of all time") indicates that they do infact have a political agenda.  

How so?  Do "Electric Ladyland" or "Blues for the Red Sun" have political 
agendas?  Undoubtedly these are concept albums with grounded musical 
threads running through each (or most) of the songs but they can't be 
called political in any sense of the word, without distorting or 
enlarging the meaning of "political" until it becomes meaningless.

> there is no hypocrisy, politics and 
> philosophy exist on many different levels, and to limit a "valid 
> political agenda" to existing only in the realm of sociology is dead wrong. 

True.  But the focus of Christgau's article is not the politics of the 
self or the music business or art but electoral politics.   

                                                        we tend to look at
> things not from the point of view of a political agenda, but rather from 
> a personal, emotional or viceral level.  "what does this say to me?" as 
> opposed to "what does this say to us?" 

Whereas, when dealing with rock music the appropriate questions should be 
"Does this rock?", "How does this rock?", "Is this innovative or just 
different?"  The problem with the rock audience & press (which should be 
of those specifically trained to listen to rock music) is not that there is 
enough talk about politics (check Rolling Stone) but that they ignore 
aesthetic issues in favour of political ones.  Not to say that politics 
aren't a vital aspect of social life, it's just that I don't want my 
political analysis coming from a rock critic.  I expect aesthetic 
judgments not political vitriol and social guidance (and, I would hope, 
the bands would as well).
> christgau, and most other critics fault, is to impose their predetermined 
> aesthetic of what IS popular culture on art when they look at it.

No. Christgau's problem is dropping the political hammer on aesthetic 
issues.  I don't care what his politics are and they're not going to help 
me decide if the new Helmet album is rocking or not.
> if he was 
> writing in 1968, he would be bemoaning the rampant political message of 
> music because in academic opinion, culture at the time was highly political.

Unlikely, considering how well defined and entrenched his leftist politics 
> i don't think tha punk has ever claimed idealistic or political 
> authenticity, just clarity or conviction.

The Clash, Gang of Four and their attendant knock-offs claimed the higher 
moral ground with regularity.  "Sandanista" is rife with just those sort 
of claims of "idealistic and political authenticity".  You know, better 
jobs, housing, hang the Tories from the nearest lamppost, and so on. 

> no one would ever claim that the sex pistols represent a well-thought out 
> idealogy on their own,

Greil Marcus makes just such a claim in "Lipstick Traces", connecting the 
Pistols to the Situationist movement.  But that's neither here nor there.
> > 
> > sloan have never tried to hide their local
> > roots, they've never tried to plug themselves
> > into some kind of universalizing rock myth,
> > even if they've had some fun with that.  
> > and that makes them authentic to many people
> > (like me) right now.  as far as i'm concerned, 
> > their success in that regard makes them quite
> > important.  perhaps christgau would disagree.

Why the concern with authenticity?  Zeppelin and Sabbath both explored 
every dead end of macho preening in hopes of scoring as many groupies as 
humanly possible and still made great music.  Who gives a fuck if rock 
stars are "authentic"?  Dylan and Lennon are/were assholes but I'm not 
asking them to dinner, I'm putting them on the stereo. 

> what HAS to happen for ANY music to have lasting social value is for us 
> to re-examine how we go about looking at what "politics" are.  the next 
Jesus, no, no, a thousand times no.  For music to have lasting social 
value it has to have MUSICAL transcendence not some "right-on"politics 
that can be morphed by the listener to whatever political ends he/she 
envisions.  By all means, engage in politics both local and 
international, but leave discssions of the worth of music to those who 
care about MUSIC enough not to crush it under the weight of all this 
socio-political muck.

> anyhoo, it's an interesting debate.

Indeed it is, but it's got little to do with music.