Friday, March 16, 2007


I've posted about cowboy boots before. But I've been listening to Palace Bonnie Prince Oldham and it's got my hackles up.

As I write, the trucker-hipster backlash is almost complete. The meshback hats are inthe trash, the creative facial hair diminishing, and I would hesitate before blowing a wad on expensive aviators. But whatever mindset produced this obsession with ironic americana/fetishized ruggedness is still there. And I know where it came from. That fucker Andy Warhol.

I'm not going to say that rock music was in a state of innocence before the Factory; to do so would subvert the entire point of this entry. In any case, even Warhol hadn't been around, Jagger would have probably gotten some ideas from a phD at some fancy party, or the Band would have written an essay. But somewhere in the transition between the 60's and 70's, the gentle carpetbagging that is rock-and-roll was introduced to High Art.

All of a sudden, ideas were framed, purity was sought, and references had to be oblique. Concept was discussed. Not plural, singular. The vocabulary and mindset of the avant garde was adopted and became so ubiquitous that now it is a forgotten piece of DNA, one that recombinates, hides away, and occasionally resurfaces as a congenital defect.

So, while Nashville is churning out countryish pop songs that attempt wide appeal, it's the indie musicians that have decided to become curators of americana. They're desperatly attempting to collage together "pure" music from an imagined world of noble country savages that played for higher ideals, ideals that maybe we could mine for potential. We're all complicit; somewhere along the line we forgot that we are constructing culture every day and we started essentializing, purfying, relying on taste rather than feel. Yes, even you, Sufjan, although most of it is hidden under genuine talent. Producing a pop song becomes more and more like curating your account, attempting to prove your credibility through reduction to a fixed Truth.

Come on, people. The dude with the bullet hole decals on his back window could tell you that even things like Truth and Manliness and Purity are constructed. If you scrape away all of the context and bullshit, most of the time you're not left with much to work from, except a nice footnote or excerpt that will prove your cred for one more day. I'm sick of diminishing returns. Quit making "critical" music and kick some ass, right now.

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