Tuesday, February 10, 2009
kool kats krazy koncepts
i've been rocking out the last couple of days listening to lynard skynard(the next group i'll be writing about)& i came across michael's entry chastising us for not having listened to jazz back in high school. the idea seems to be if we were THAT hip, we'd have been listening to really hip music. the stooges, according to michael, don't qualify as hip. charlie parker does.
i've got lots of problems w/this point of view. first, i think we were insufferable enough way back when. the image of us in philip's cave deeply digging coltrane's grooves is just horrifying to me, esp since only a few of us had rudimentary knowledge of music. we wouldn't have known what the FUCK we were digging. period. unlike rock & roll, jazz is a music of innovation, technical virtuosity, & musical depth. it makes real demands on the listener. this is not to say that r&r doesn't have some of these qualities. i am saying the a full appreciation of jazz demands musical knowledge; otherwise, it's dilettantism. in other words, there were gaps in our knowledge. which is kind of what i'm trying to get at w/my list.
second, the stooges may not be hip. rock & roll might not be hip to someone caught up in an alternative music phase. that's ok. history contradicts both those positions. for the most part, if something endures the test of time, it's pretty damned significant. but the historical argument isn't the only one that can be adduced here: just listen to "the stooges" or "fun house." they sound immediate, powerful, contemporaneous. which is kind of what i'm trying to get at w/my list.
third, there's a mixing of genres here that i just don't think applies. no one would argue that genres don't bleed over into each other(tho i really can't find schoenberg's serialism anywhere in rock & roll). rock & roll was our primary music of choice. did we listen to other kinds of music? sure we did. i haven't said anything here about classical music but philip & i listened to quite a bit(i wrote about elliot carter earlier on this blog)& i remember being home this last summer & playing a merle haggard song for ken & him saying, "it's funny we didn't listen to this stuff when we were younger because we like it so much now" & me not saying "well, i did listen to hank williams", through bobo(who actually saw williams live at the old pensacola auditorium at the end of palafox st in p'cola & had his "13 greatest hits" album)& we were exposed to classic country through ronstadt & emmylou albums. i was playing haggard & jj walker & buck owens at the quaint lounge before i left for college. in other words, if knocking us for lack of jazz appreciation is legit than we're damned too about classical & bluegrass(did ANY of us listen to bill monroe back then?). & that's not the point of the list.
michael is coming late to his jazz phase. ken went through his a long time ago. i suppose i went through mine. i remember my first 3some down at new college w/di & nancy mac, i put on monk's solo piano work("ruby, my dear" will always be remembered fondly by me anyway). & it was miles davis' "in a silent way" that i pushed back in high school(purchased because of a review in rolling stone, written in 1969 by none other than my bete noire, lester bangs), tho i tried to like "bitches brew." still, this was music to study by, fuck to, or have on low during animated conversations w/philip about religion or politics. did i understand parker's rhythmic innovations or monk's chord colorations or davis' tonal shifts? i don't think so. i mean, i'd read the liner notes & knew these aspects of the music were important but understanding what's happening in the stop-time of louis armstrong's "potato head blues"? no way. not then.
the music phase of mine i remember best was the "new orleans" music phase. of course, i was no doubt superciliously pompous, tracing all music back to new orleans "roots" & dismissing anything else. i probably thought back on our lack of sophistication in high school, esp w/this music being so clearly the gospel truth. luckily, what got me out of this was the outrigger shit-asses, hervey, donnie, & jay. they insisted on playing the music they liked & i reluctantly listened. this was the rem, husker du, replacements, nirvana era & i was compelled by the music to take note of it. i'm very glad i did because it lead to listening to much of the music i listen to today &, more, an appreciation for music i hadn't listened to back in high school. like lynard skynard. i'd like to think that was my last phase. which is kind of what i'm trying to get at w/the list.