Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pop Aphorisms: III

1. The Kingsmen’s “Louie, Louie,” not Bob Dylan, taught rock musicians a fundamental lesson in writing lyrics: the best are highly ambiguous, and therefore have the allure of a deep mystery.

2.The fundamental problem that an “oldies” radio station cannot surmount is that what was bad then is bad now.

3. The photocopied poster was to Punk rock what television was to Elvis—consider the cover art of the Sex Pistols’ first (and only) record.

4. Dylan going electric was merely the technological equivalent of a painter embracing photography.

5. Jacques Lacan observed that his seminar on “The Purloined Letter” was successful primarily because very few of his students had actually read Poe’s story; his insight explains why bands such as Joy Division are so revered, because few have actually ever listened to their music.

6. The worst fate of a rock band is to earn what Susan McClary names “terminal prestige,” to take yourself so seriously, to be so self-conscious in your artistic pretensions, that you lose your audience—look what happened to the Velvet Underground.

7. Rock music critics today have absolutely no sense of outrage; if they really said what they believed about the albums they must write about, they’d be out of a job.

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