Soft Machine and Capt Beefheart’s Magic Band were both gone before that 43 year old critic was even ten years old. That’s ancient history. It’s weird the way the people cite 60′s acts like they are part of their own lives. They aren’t. That was two generations ago. Those people are mostly dead by now, dead and irrelevant except as history. Jazz has the same problem…it doesn’t know that Trane, Bird, Mingus, Duke et all are all, ya know, dead. Dead a long time. Skeletonized. I blame the confusion on CDs. CD’s keep people alive much longer than they used to be. Everything ever has been reissued, time and time again, and it all sounds so new and digital and fresh it’s like they’re playing in your living room, and you can talk to them and they’ll pass you the joint. Somewhere along the line historical context has fallen away completely. We adopt the dead as one of us, where they would see us as completely different. They probably wouldn’t even like us. But they’re dead and it doesn’t matter. It’s like watching TCM and wishing you could sleep with Ava Gardner, and forgetting that she’s half a century older. She’s so alive there on the screen. Alive and perfect. It’s unreal.
Ya know, I wrote about jazz for six years. Thought about this everytime I began another column (well, not about Ava, but about those jazz skeletons). Always wanted to say ya know people, John Coltrane is dead, way dead, fuck him, forget him…but never did. I’d break too many hearts. People would read me to see who I said sounded like John Coltrane. They could go and maybe clothes their eyes and pretend. Illusions are precious things, times are tough, let them have them, the dear little things. What else have they got?
But I am constantly infuriated by kids who wish they were alive during my youth (I’m 54). To whom my music still has so much relevance. I tell them they are supposed to hate what we did. We hated what people my age did then. In fact, we hated what people ten years older than us did at our age. That’s what The whole point of punk rock was to destroy everything and start over, why can’t you destroy everything we did and start over? Of course, that idea is ludicrous. Just shows how old I am. No one thinks like that anymore. The ptomaine of all that twentieth century revolution crap. How quaint. So I always wind up telling them how I got my punk rock ass kicked all over a jail cell by a dozen cops for telling them to fuck off, or how I took dust and played drums with my hands and the kids in the pit got blood all over, about how we stole our equipment and were complete assholes. Like grandpa telling his war stories. Thoroughly enjoying the fact that my time then makes no sense to kids now. Nor should it. Getting beat up and stealing and bleeding and being offensive as possible made musical sense at the time. Now it’d just be rude. Hopefully when that 43 year old writer is 54 he can do the same. Instead of just whine. Nobody likes a whiner.
Allow me one whine though….I fucking hate the term pop critic. I hate the word pop. Pop. There’s no power to that at all. No danger. Rock at least meant someone might get their head kicked in tonite. Pop is fey and so intellectual. Fuck intellectuals. And I am one.
No one ever said punk rockers made any sense.
Photo from Lexinatrix via Flickr