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Author Topic: rude 'n' ridiculous rants + polite but painfully-slow prattle with passers-by  (Read 19742 times)

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Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #225 on: November 04, 2012, 02:08:54 PM »
Also M*A*S*H*.  :)  But maybe everyone knows that, I dunno.  That one's super-creepy if you ask me.  Sometime I need to rhapsodize for a while here about how much I love that show.  Never watched it when I was a kid and it was on air, but I've watched the whole DVD collection twice now, I think.  Can't wait to do it again!  Someday.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #226 on: November 04, 2012, 04:28:05 PM »
I loves me a good paradox Department

Children need to learn to start doing things because their parents think they should do them.

Adults need to learn to stop doing things because they think they should do them.

Children need to be taught to be adults.

Adults need to be taught to be children.

Most children become parents.  Most parents are still children. 

Offline Ryuka Tana

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #227 on: November 05, 2012, 06:42:43 AM »
I don't believe any person's life was ever meant to benefit others primarily.  I know many people believe that putting others first is not only a moral imperative but also the surest route to achieving personal fulfillment.  I think they're completely wrong.  All of them.  I know they have only the best intentions; I know the results of their efforts are often far more admirable than any accomplishments achieved by others who pursue self-serving aims throughout their lives.  None of that matters.  They're all still wrong. 

I'm not suggesting people should be selfish jerks; it's much more complicated than that.

"I bookmarked you... I swear... but then it didn't stick... Anyway, I'm here now and again, I love this. The concept of good has bothered me since High School (Good equating to 'Selflessness' in this case, because otherwise it's ill-defined). I'mma get heavy here, I hope you don't mind, but it's relevant to my reasoning and also discusses my mother (thus relevant to your parental discussion). The quick deal here is that my mother was a saint, she did everything for everyone but herself. She cooked and cleaned and did the latter til she was ill. I remember her getting so ill once (not specifically from cleaning, necessarily, but it's a possibility) that she was throwing up blood (I did say heavy, sorry if this is too dark, I'll edit it out if you want)."

"Eventually, her bipolarity (which I inherited) and her constant attempt to please others, drove her to kill herself. As a kid, I was entirely emotionally reliant on her because she spent her whole life giving me everything she had. When she killed herself, I spent pretty much all of 8th, 9th, and 10th grade incapable of coping with my emotions (and the fact that my bipolarity started to kick in). I'm a stronger person for it all, but I could just as likely ended up not being a person today if not for the fact that while I was (and remain) completely ready to die, I couldn't bear the concept of the pain associated."

"Since then, I've come to believe that selflessness only serves to cause people to become reliant, and in turn, when a selfless individual slowly loses their capability to take care of themselves, those reliant on them fall apart as well. Everyone is better off realizing that serving others (but not exclusively) serves their own needs as well, and that this is healthy and intelligent behavior."

"Few people understand that, and most of the ones I've come across only came to understand it because I explained it to them. I'm glad to see someone with a similar (if not the same) ideology. Everytime I come here, I'm surprised to see someone who really does see things that most people refuse to see."

I loves me a good paradox Department

Children need to learn to start doing things because their parents think they should do them.

Adults need to learn to stop doing things because they think they should do them.

Children need to be taught to be adults.

Adults need to be taught to be children.

Most children become parents.  Most parents are still children. 

"I like the saying that 'Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.' Maturity is not the quality of being able to act 'like an adult', by socially normal standards. Jon Stewart is a man I'd describe as mature, and I've seen him discuss politics with a Jerry Lewis impression..."

"It's an unfortunate biological issue that the only mandate of a parent is fertility."

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #228 on: November 06, 2012, 07:38:11 PM »
Random boy iz random Department.  I was piddling on my acoustic guitar a minute ago and noticed how the light from an ordinary yellow lightbulb intermittently slipped between my fingers moving on the fretboard and sparkled against one of the (silver) metal frets.  The color of the reflection was lime green, but I don't know why.  I'm so glad I saw that, though.







Delinquent Responses Department, Apologies and Excuse-Making Division.



@ Ryuka Tana

Thanks again for the many interesting and provocative responses you've put in this blog -- I'm still behind at the moment, but I still plan to reply to a few things you've said, ASAP, and begging your forbearance and continued patience with my slow pace of responding.  Your readership and participation in this blog is still much appreciated, as it is for anyone else out there who stops in.  :)



Delinquent Responses Department, Music Nerds Rule Division.



@ Kythia

Hi Kythia, if you're still out there.  I see that it's been nearly two weeks since I last heard from you, so it's a bit unlikely that you're still interested in this conversation, but hope springs eternal, so here we go.  :)  There's always the chance (however remote) that anyone else who reads this might find it interesting or might even join the conversation, so it's worth my while to continue regardless.

I had mentioned to you that I think pop music criticism a.k.a. record reviewing is a self-contradictory and inherently doomed undertaking.  Well, I probably phrased it differently, but that's the gist as I recall.  In order to explain further, I'll need to go through an argument that has multiple parts, so bear with me.

The first part goes like so.  I have a personal preoccupation with logic and with ordering my thoughts and activities according to logic.  This is not always a wise or even healthy way to go through life, but I yam what I yam, so I'm kinda stuck with it.  If you aren't, not only is there nothing wrong with that, but it's probably for the best.

Anyway it's only natural for me to approach my love of pop music (mainly rock) using my sense of logic, which tells me the following.  Pop music has the power to move people in ways that are genuinely profound and meaningful, so therefore, it frequently achieves or at least approaches the status of a legitimate art with a capital "A"; in other words, I think that even though most pop music is little more than trivial fluff entertainment or background noise, there's still plenty of it that can be approached as art, with all the depth and importance that attaches to any other legitimate artform, such as literature or painting or sculpture or film or etc.

All this nitpicking of terminology just amounts to my conclusion that pop music matters -- it matters in as profound and real a way as any art matters, in my opinion.  I'm well-educated enough to understand that Shakespeare and Beethoven probably produced work far more complex and meaningful than Chuck Berry or even Tom Waits, but that fact doesn't make rock any less important or meaningful to its fans, nor does it necessarily imply that rock is any less serious or legitimate an artform than literature or classical music.

If you can buy into all of that, then the next part of the logical argument goes like so.  If pop music can be seen as art, then according to logic, makers of pop music are artists in their own right; they do important work; they have important and immeasurable talent that deserves serious attention and close scrutiny from the public.

So far we've made claims that most pop music fans probably wouldn't take issue with.  Here's the first claim that they might find hard to swallow:  any artist worth his or her salt is worthy of attention throughout his or her career.  The implication of this claim with regard to pop music is that any great musician deserves for their entire catalog to be closely scrutinized by any person who thinks that at least some part of that catalog reaches the level of art.  This view of pop music has never been widespread among fans and is perhaps less so now than ever before.  The vast majority of pop music fans do not approach music with any great seriousness; they think of it as lighthearted, relatively-unimportant fun, and that is probably just as it should be; certainly the founders of rock were much more interested in moving booties and inspiring concupiscence than in producing any sort of serious art, and thank God for that!  We wouldn't have rock and roll otherwise.

Nevertheless, I take pop music seriously enough that I consider many pop musicians to be real artists, and as such, I think every work they make available to the public is worthy of attention.  That doesn't mean everything they release is equally accomplished or equally successful, only that every release adds in an important way to an overall body of work produced throughout their entire career, and that body of work matters enough that each part -- even the failures and missteps that most artists, as human beings, are prone to -- is important and worthy of public scrutiny.

Now I love great singles from anybody, don't get me wrong, and I'm perfectly happy falling in love with one song from an artist even if everything else they release is pure pap.  But those aren't great artists, in my mind; they got lucky enough and had just enough artistic inspiration to make one great song, or perhaps one great album, but they lacked the gifts of any real artist with a capital "A."  Real artists are capable of producing multiple great songs and multiple great albums, even if they also produced many sub-par works in between their masterpieces.  If you agree with that proposition, then it only makes sense that real artists should have all their releases closely watched so that whenever they manage to release another masterpiece, there's an audience ready to recognize and appreciate that accomplishment.  Even though I cherish great singles and great individual albums from many groups whose other releases disappoint me, I devote the largest part of my attention as a pop music fan to those artists who I consider to be genuinely gifted and important enough to merit continual attention. 

This line of thinking and this way of approaching pop music results in taking a specific approach to buying and listening to music.  I'm interested in a wide range of releases, new and old, but whenever I find a great song from anyone, my first impulse is to hear something else from that same artist, and preferably from the same album on which that first great song appeared.  This whole approach to pop music might seem quite natural to others like me, but it's not an approach that was ever really widespread among the public, not even among the most devoted listeners of rock and roll.  Prior to the Sixties, albums were not the primary format of the medium, so it was very common for artists to release one or a handful of singles and then disappear, or to release a long string of singles without ever producing a long-form record album.  From the Sixties through 2000-something, it became common and even expected for pop musicians to release albums instead of or alongside singles.  The rise of the internet seems to have once again shattered this expectation and given rise to a large number of pop artists who release only one song that anyone pays attention to, now that many if not most listeners have once again (as in the Fifties) become accustomed to purchasing single songs, whether or not they ever bother to purchase full albums or even multiple singles by the same artist.

Hum, I seem to have rambled for quite a while here without ever getting around to making the meat of my argument as to why record reviewing is doomed to failure.  The reason for all the preamble is because I think the main argument falls apart immediately if you don't understand the foundation of the argument, which is all the preliminary logical claims which I've spelled out today.

Kythia -- or anyone else who read any of that -- you may or may not find anything to disagree with in the above statements, and you may or may not find anything insightful whatsoever about anything I've said today; if you feel like responding to any of it, please do, because I would love to hear any thoughts you have, and perhaps just as importantly, I'd love to know if you're even still interested in this prolonged presentation, because I expect most people would simply find it tedious and dull.  I can talk about this kinda shit all day, because I'm a music nerd of the first order, and this is all about how I approach music, but there aren't many music lovers who approach it with anything like my sort of nerdery, and thank God for that, or else we'd have nothing but nerdy dudes buying music anymore.  (hehehehe There's nothing sadder than those few sorts of popular music -- certain types of metal or dance music, for example -- with such limited appeal that only nerdy males ever become fans.  Have you ever been to a concert filled with nothing but sweaty young men, not only on stage but among the audience?  Oh, I've seen so so so many of those shows.  They're all a little pathetic and perhaps pathological.  I can't exactly get snooty about it, though, having been a sweaty young man myself, not long ago!)  (I'm still sweaty sometimes, but no longer "young" by the reckoning of most people ...)

Whether or not anybody responds, since I've put this much effort into it already, I intend to finish making this argument soon, but not today, since I've already spent too much time on this and perhaps bored and driven away any potential readers.  :)  I'll take a break and then get back to doing more of that soon!  hehehehe
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 07:39:24 PM by rick957 »

Offline Kythia

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #229 on: November 06, 2012, 08:28:25 PM »
I love the album.  I really do.  As I've mentioned my particular period of interest is eighties and early nineties (until Nirvana et al ruined it for everyone.)  Showing my age perhaps but I'm quite happy to talk in terms of the album rather than the song as the base unit of music.

Let me try to explain why I disagree with some of your points though.  I've just picked up 1994's Cross Road - Bon Jovi's first greatest hits album.  In fact, I've picked up the North American release which has a slightly different track listing because I'm under the impression you're north American. The earliest song on it is Runaway from 84's Bon Jovi.  The latest songs on it are Always and Some Day I'll Be Saturday Night which are new songs written for the album, so date from '94.  That's a ten year span right there.

Bon Jovi was released in a particular time and place.  The line up at that time included Alec John Such.  I've got an 45 rpm of it in the loft and the production quality is dire - even the remastered CD isn't of great quality.  Runaway was written with Dave the snake Sabo as the guitarist, although by release date Sambora was in the band.  Roy Bitten, from E Street Band, did the keyboard intro.  George Karak, whoever the hell he is, gets a cowriting credit.  Tony bongiovi a production one.  This isn't pedantry, I promise, but I'll stop now before it is.

Always was released in a radically different musical climate - grunge springing relatively easily to mind.  Alec John Such is replaced by an uncredited Hugh Macdonald.  We have orchestration credits, engineering credits, all the signs of a massive band thats not scrimping for an afternoon in a studio.  Bon Jovi owned a private jet at this time.  Fear ye not, I'm not going to list a load of facts about Always because I think that might be flogging a dead horse at this point.

All I'm trying to establish is two things:

1) Even ignoring the line-up change, 1984 Bon Jovi are a radically different band to 1994 Bon Jovi.  They operate in a different musical climate, they are more skilled musicians, their influences have grown, their projected fan base is ten years older.  And so on and so forth.

and following on to some extent

2) While sure both Runaway and Always are by Bon Jovi, saying they are by the same artist hides complexity.  They have different producers, composers, etc. all of whom have left their mark on the song.

I'm sure you can guess what I disagree with, but just in case I'll be explicit.  Liking Always has very little relevance to liking Runaway.  Moving forwards through time, liking either of them has little relevance to liking, say, 2000's It's My Life.  Sure, there may be a core set of principles and music taste that applies across the life time of a band but that's not necessary - look at pre- and post- Anselmo Pantera if the reference means anything to you.  Better yet look at real Lynyrd Skynyrd versus the horrific crime against all that is good and pure post crash band calling themselves Skynyrd.

I agree that pop music is art.  Thats why I do what I do and want to do it more.  You'll get f*** all argument on that point from me.  But I think you're wrong to try to extrapolate to pop musicians being an artist with the sense of continuity that implies.  84's Bon Jovi has far more in common with the likes of Skid Row (for obvious reasons), Kiss's 82 Killers and similar than, say, Bon Jovi's 1996 These Days.

I see pop musicians as a series of a discrete artists that happen to share a name.  I think if you hear a song that you like you should be looking for musical contempories of that song, rather than other songs by the band that recorded it.

I'm not sure if that distinction changes your point at all.

Offline Branwen

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #230 on: November 07, 2012, 04:53:22 AM »
Random boy iz random Department.  I was piddling on my acoustic guitar a minute ago and noticed how the light from an ordinary yellow lightbulb intermittently slipped between my fingers moving on the fretboard and sparkled against one of the (silver) metal frets.  The color of the reflection was lime green, but I don't know why.  I'm so glad I saw that, though.

Ooooh!  Something I can - hah! - shed a little light on.

Remember from Ms. Branwen's physics class when we got out the spectroscopes and looked at light from different sources?

You saw that white looking sunlight had these colors:



And fluorescent lights had these colors:



And incandescent (your ordinary yellow lightbulb) had these colors:


Ms. Branwen explained that while all light may look pretty much the same to us, it's actually made out of several colors - frequencies - of light working together.  Jenny got out her digital camera and took a picture in my room without using the flash.  The picture was really, really green and y'all told me it was because our fluorescent lights - which look white - are actually mainly green so it ends up tinting the photos with that funky green color.



And then Jenny showed some photos of her older sister taken indoors under incandescent (your yellow light bulb) with the white balance off and on in her camera's settings.  The picture on the left looks really, really yellow because that's what color light comes out, and is then reflected from an object, under an ordinary light bulb.  Her camera's computer color-corrected the picture on the right to make it more like our eyes perceive it to be.



Then we turned the fluorescents off  off and took a picture under a regular light bulb and it looked just like the first picture of Jenny's sister, all yellow and soft and golden.  Why?  Because the light from the lightbulb and the light from the fluorescent are made of different colors and intensities of light.

You also remember that the more towards the blue side light is, the higher its frequency and, thus, its energy is.  Red light is a lazy thing, blue light is a busy little bee.  With your light source, mainly green and red, the green was reflected back to your eyes and the red?  Well, it's hard to say for sure without knowing exactly what material the "silver" frets are made out of and how polished they are.  There is something going on at the surface of the metal, but whether it's the red light being absorbed and its frequency shifting down into the infrared or heat range or if the thin layer of oil on the metal from your fingers is having an effect like gasoline or oil on water is hard to say.  You know, like when you see a rain puddle with that rainbow sheen on it? 



Materials are wonderfully complex at the microscopic level!  What you think is a smooth surface can often be crazy rough at the microscopic level.  Whether a surface is smooth or rough, or if it's layered, or if the top is slightly transparent and the bottom isn't, or even how the tiny individual atoms are arranged make huge differences in how light interacts with it.  Look at this collage of different materials examined under a SEM (scanning electron microscope).



The takeaway here is this:  light is made up of many colors.  Not every color is equal in energy or wavelength or frequency.  For some reason the green was being reflected back to your eyes and the red was either being absorbed or sent off in a different direction.

Which of course begs the question:  What light do you have to be under in order to play the blues?

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #231 on: November 08, 2012, 10:52:59 AM »
Visitor Appreciation Bureau.  Such delightful and wonderful posts from visitors lately!  Thanks so much, ya'll.  I'll reply to stuff ASAP.  :)  Thanks for your patience in the meantime.



Bruce Springsteen and something I hate about pop music

Perhaps you saw or heard that the Boss performed before a big Obama rally of some kind.  Or so I heard. 

I hate that shit.  Here's why.  Music should be above politics.  Music is art, or at least it aspires to be art in its best moments, even pop music does, and certainly Springsteen's music does.  Art should be above politics.  It often isn't.  There is much great art that isn't.  I love some of it.  (Dylan; Rage Against the Machine; Michael Franti; many others.)  That's beside the point.

You should be able to love Bruce Springsteen even if you're a Republican.  He should know better than to fuck that up for some of his fans who are Republicans.

I hate that shit.  Pearl Jam did something vaguely similar a few years back; they took to ranting against Bush Jr. in concerts, or at least in one concert DVD.  They should know better. 

I'm not a Republican or a Bush Jr. lover or an Obama lover.  I'm just a human who loves art and pop music and wants to be able to share that love with other humans, even the ones who happen to be Republicans or Bush Jr. lovers or Obama lovers.  And I'm not even a maker of pop music; I'm just another fan.  You would hope that the makers of pop music think long and hard before they do things that alienate huge numbers of their own fans.

They probably do; these are smart people.  I guess I just find their decisions and actions profoundly disappointing.  It takes them and their music down a notch in my book.  Oh well, they shouldn't lose sleep over it or anything.  :)  Well not on my personal account, at least.

Offline Oniya

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #232 on: November 08, 2012, 12:29:27 PM »
Now, when you say 'politics', are you talking simply candidate endorsement, or something broader?  I seem to remember you are a Midnight Oil fan, and one of their big issues was aboriginal rights in Australia (referenced in 'Beds are Burning').  How do you feel about songs like 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday', and 'Pride (In the Name of Love)' by U2, or the Scorpions 'Winds of Change'?

Offline Ryuka Tana

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #233 on: November 08, 2012, 01:01:14 PM »
Bruce Springsteen and something I hate about pop music

Perhaps you saw or heard that the Boss performed before a big Obama rally of some kind.  Or so I heard. 

I hate that shit.  Here's why.  Music should be above politics.  Music is art, or at least it aspires to be art in its best moments, even pop music does, and certainly Springsteen's music does.  Art should be above politics.  It often isn't.  There is much great art that isn't.  I love some of it.  (Dylan; Rage Against the Machine; Michael Franti; many others.)  That's beside the point.

You should be able to love Bruce Springsteen even if you're a Republican.  He should know better than to fuck that up for some of his fans who are Republicans.

I hate that shit.  Pearl Jam did something vaguely similar a few years back; they took to ranting against Bush Jr. in concerts, or at least in one concert DVD.  They should know better. 

I'm not a Republican or a Bush Jr. lover or an Obama lover.  I'm just a human who loves art and pop music and wants to be able to share that love with other humans, even the ones who happen to be Republicans or Bush Jr. lovers or Obama lovers.  And I'm not even a maker of pop music; I'm just another fan.  You would hope that the makers of pop music think long and hard before they do things that alienate huge numbers of their own fans.

They probably do; these are smart people.  I guess I just find their decisions and actions profoundly disappointing.  It takes them and their music down a notch in my book.  Oh well, they shouldn't lose sleep over it or anything.  :)  Well not on my personal account, at least.

"On this we disagree, as an artist (of various sorts), I would rather have good fans than lots of fans. Particularly since you say, 'Art should be above politics.' If I were to get published, there would definitely be a lot of political issues in my books, such as support for gay and polyamorous relationships (and doing so without making the story all about that aspect). It would be about neutrality and self-governance being major virtues. I don't need conservative fans, nor do I want them. If they like my stories, fine, same with music, but I don't want to *share* it with them anymore than I am happy to share a planet with them."

"Honestly, if I were a musician, and I supported Obama, I'd play for him because if you like my music, you won't care what my political leanings are, or screw you if I do. Someone being a public figure does not make them subject to the whims of their audience (except monetarily, but I hate the economy more than I hate government). I don't support Obama (because I don't support government), and I don't specifically care for Springsteen, but if he supports Obama, then good on him for showing it."

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #234 on: November 08, 2012, 03:04:19 PM »
Now, when you say 'politics', are you talking simply candidate endorsement, or something broader?  I seem to remember you are a Midnight Oil fan, and one of their big issues was aboriginal rights in Australia (referenced in 'Beds are Burning').  How do you feel about songs like 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday', and 'Pride (In the Name of Love)' by U2, or the Scorpions 'Winds of Change'?

hehehehe  Another astute observation from the omniscient, omnipresent Oniya.  I'm being very broad, although I wouldn't take issue necessarily with any public figure endorsing any candidate or any political view, as long as they don't do so in their works of art and don't use their art to promote the candidate or political view.

I'm rife with contradictions, and happily so, as a matter of fact.  I hate politics in rock.  And yet ...

Come to think of it ... Not only is that an apparent contradiction in my musical tastes, but it gets even worse than that.  Midnight Oil are currently my favorite band, and they're one of the most overtly political bands in the history of rock.  U2 was my favorite band during one or two of the most important formative periods of my youth, and they're widely thought-of as being overtly political, although there's relatively little overt political content in their actual songs, at least compared to the widespread impressions people have.  (They are super politically active in their behavior but rarely in their music.)

I love "Beds Are Burning" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)"; I've probably heard each of those songs at least several hundred times and perhaps thousands of times, since I've been a huge fan of both bands for over two decades.  Contradictions, contradictions.  If you named the top thirty political rockers of all time, I'm probably a big fan of most or all of them.  (Public Enemy?  Hell yes!  Bob Marley?  Of course!  Neil Young is a god! etc. etc.)

Know what I hate even worse -- much worse actually -- than politics in rock?  Religion in rock.  Especially Christianity, my chosen faith.  I'd like to annihilate everyone who makes "Contemporary Christian Music."  I'd like to murderize 'em.  Wipe 'em off the planet.  And yet -- contradiction! -- I'm a huge fan of a small handful of bands who once worked in the CCM scene.  That specific, small handful of bands are among my personal favorites, even.

Art should be above all that shit, in my opinion.  Also above commerce.  U2 fucked up big time when they endorsed Apple; one of the worst mistakes, if not the worst, of their career.  Art shouldn't be used to sell shit.

The proper uses and functions of Art (capital A-Art) are higher than commerce or politics or even religion or philosophy, in a way.  Art that tries to sell anything -- a political view, a religious view, a philosophy, or a product -- isn't really art; it's propoganda.

I have strong views about these topics, but they're very abstract and idealistic and romantic views; probably quixotic and unrealistic and impractical too; perhaps naive; not uninformed but perhaps underinformed.  Also I love talking about these subjects, but I don't know anyone else who does.  :)

A personal favorite quotation that I've shared once before in another E thread:

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1936

Not that I consider myself intelligent, but I aspire to be.  :)

Replies to RT and other peoples are pending!  Thanks.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 03:09:00 PM by rick957 »

Offline Oniya

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #235 on: November 08, 2012, 03:15:14 PM »
Well, I was drawing a distinction between taking a strong position on an issue, which is what most 'political songs' are about (counting the protest songs of the '60s through to songs like the ones I mentioned), and taking a strong position on a person, which is what you spoke about with Springsteen.  Personally, I think the distinction is a significant one, so I was curious if you had considered it.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #236 on: November 08, 2012, 03:27:02 PM »
Hm.  Do you find one of those more or less acceptable than the other?  I think I see the distinction but don't grasp its significance.

I think it's damaging and belittling to art whenever artists attempt to push a strong position on either a political issue or a political candidate using their art.  There's a long, respected tradition in rock of pushing political views, and I often love the artists and songs that push political views, but I love them for reasons besides the pushing of the political views.  I think that part is unwise and inappropriate, albeit well-intentioned.

What's your take, Oniya?  If you care to share; no obligation of course.  Or anyone else reading, I'd love to hear your views.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 03:30:09 PM by rick957 »

Offline Ryuka Tana

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #237 on: November 08, 2012, 04:48:29 PM »
"I think the problem there is that art is generally about expression, which means ideas, and in the end, all ideas are based on views, be they moral, political, philosophical, or religious. Often, they're some combination of all of those. Are hymnals and gospel music not art? Despite my dislike for their message, I spent a lot of time in my High School Choir singing them, and grew to like a few of them because they were fun to listen to and sing."

"Beyond that, what about the Beatles? Is 'Revolution' not art? It's definitely political. Let's look into more 'absurd' examples that relate to your idea that Republicans can't love Bruce Springsteen due to his support of Obama. What about Elvis? Are Jews not allowed to love 'Blue Christmas', or an agnostic like me?"

"Even love songs delve into this area. Listen to 'Hey there, Delilah', it's about a heterosexual relationship by any but the loosest translation of the lyrics, and has a pretty strong tone of monogamy. That doesn't make the song any less beautiful to me, even though I refuse to support monogamy."

"It may seem like semantics, but it's arbitrary to say that supporting Obama is so different from supporting any other view. Hell, Springsteen sang 'Born in the USA', which is pretty political, regardless of what you believe the message to be."

"Why should it be wrong to sing, write, or draw anything you want, about anything you want. I mean, if it's propaganda, then most love songs are propaganda for heteronormative, monogamous life, and Star Wars is propaganda for a humanocentric universe (and that's totally ignoring the actual political and philosophical implications of the Jedi)."

Offline Oniya

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #238 on: November 08, 2012, 04:50:24 PM »
Artists in general have used their art to push their views for ages, both subtly and blatantly.  In many famous paintings of Hell, for example, there are 'sinners' that depict someone that the painter didn't like.  As far as I'm concerned, an artist putting forth their stand on an issue (something ongoing) is speaking about something very close to their heart.  (I may not be fond of 'Christian rock' as a genre, but I'm okay with it as a concept.)  An artist who is endorsing a candidate (something transitory - at some point the candidate will no longer be there, whether the issue is resolved or not) is advertising.

Offline Kythia

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #239 on: November 08, 2012, 04:54:23 PM »
That's true, Oniya, but issues can also be transitory.  Take the massive amount of anti-Vietnam songs (and the few pro- ones).  That issue, specifically, is no longer there.  Yeah sure I guess you could talk in terms of a wider purpose of the song - draw analogies between Vietnam and other wars (which I have no real interest in doing and seems radically off topic) for example.  But that same holds true for candidates.  One day Obame won't be here but there will be other candidates that can be analogised to Obama (or anyone else.)

I don't think the split between "issue" and "person" is overly clear cut.

Offline Oniya

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #240 on: November 08, 2012, 04:57:28 PM »
Well, actually, I hope issues don't last forever, but they usually last longer than one person's political career. 

Offline Kythia

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #241 on: November 08, 2012, 05:04:34 PM »
So your issue is that a song about a person ties that song/artist too closely to a particular time and place?  While singing about issues removes it from the tawdry world of individual politicians/people and into something more... abstract? Not criticising or trying to put words in your mouth, just making sure I understand your position.

Offline Oniya

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #242 on: November 08, 2012, 05:16:05 PM »
Not the words I would have chosen (tawdry is overstating it quite a bit), but - okay, here's a concrete example.

Styx wrote a song called 'Eddie' and released it on the Cornerstone album in 1979 (Disclaimer, Styx is my favorite band of all time, and is directly responsible for me getting married.)  It's not 'endorsing' anyone, exactly, but it is about someone very specific. 

lyrics
I woke up today
The papers spoke of a man we know
He's made of the stuff they say
That first made our country grow
Living in style, traveling to distant lands
Better hang tough
For now it's time to make your stand
Can we ignore the basic facts of history
Or deny what people say is destiny
I think the message is ever so loud and clear

Eddie, now don't you run
You know you're a bootlegger's son
And you saw just what it's done to the others
Eddie, now don't you run
It's the end of all your fun
And you saw just what they've done
To your brothers

Can we ignore the basic facts of history
Or deny what people say is destiny
First in the eighties but last of the sons
First in the eyes of his countrymen
I think the message is ever so loud and clear

Eddie, now don't you run
You know you're a bootlegger's son
And you saw just what it's done to the others
Eddie, now don't you run
It's the end of all your fun
And you saw just what they've done
To your brothers

I first heard this song in the 90's, after Senator Kennedy had already decided not to follow in his brothers' footsteps towards the Presidency, and the song went from being 'topical' to almost cryptic.  The window had closed.

Offline Kythia

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #243 on: November 08, 2012, 05:25:34 PM »
(OH MY GOD.  People laugh at me when I talk about Styx.  "Are they the guys who did Mr Roboto/Come Sail Away?"  I sometimes worry that I've imagined all their other songs.

I got a copy of The Grand Illusion for my eighteenth birthday and played that bad boy to death.  While I can't say they're my favourite band I will say I totally understand your love for them.

Anyway)

I get your point - and I realised as I was writing it that tawdry may be putting it a little strong but I like the word.  I think I may agree with you with the sole proviso that some people are 'timeless' enough to almost move into the issues camp.  Martin Luther King, to return to Pride(In the name of Love) died several decades before I was born but he's, I dunno, he resonates enough across the years that I dont think the window on him has closed. 

Offline Oniya

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #244 on: November 08, 2012, 05:40:07 PM »
I think we can agree on that.  'Pride' stands out as an exception because it's almost more about the event of the assassination and the civil rights movement.  There's a song from the 60's called 'Abraham, Martin, and John' (referencing the assassinations of Lincoln, King, and Kennedy - actually both Kennedys) that didn't fare so well.

Hm.  Perhaps it's a contemporary thing.  By the time that U2 came out with 'Pride', the 'place in history' had already been defined as memorable.  When Dion sang 'Abraham, Martin and John', the King and Kennedy assassinations were a lot more recent and hadn't been quite 'settled' in the collective consciousness.

Offline Kythia

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #245 on: November 08, 2012, 05:51:14 PM »
Yeah, thats a possibility.  Pride and Queen's One Vision (the two that immediately spring to mind) both came out before I was born so for my all of my period songs about MLK have been a known thing and a perfectly, I dunno, acceptable thing.  Can't really imagine a collective consciouness that is wasn't settled in but your argument certainly sounds true.

Gonna look for counter examples though. 

What about the likes of, say, Cat Stevens Lady d'Arbanville.  Do you mind them?  Songs about specific identifiable people but with no real political message.

Offline Oniya

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #246 on: November 08, 2012, 06:04:56 PM »
While I don't dislike them, the relevance is going to depend on how recognizable they are.  I was unaware of Patti d'Arbanville's existence until this moment, so it wouldn't have the same 'catch' as, for example, Elton John's 'Candle in the Wind' (original version). 

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #247 on: November 08, 2012, 06:11:29 PM »
Holy moley, look at all the comments from people!  I'm so tickled.  :)

Oniya, I imagine that you and I probably agree that artists should be free to comment in their art about anything that is close to their heart or any subject that matters to them.  RT and most people in general probably would agree with that too, I would guess.  I actually feel strongly about that; no subject should be taboo or off-limits for artists, because art should be about saying truthful things about reality -- any and all parts of reality, not just the parts that one particular group of people or another likes to hear about. 

My concern is with the way that a subject is presented in a given work of art.  There are proper and improper ways to talk about subjects in art.  Many artists and non-artists will take issue with that opinion of mine; many who are far wiser than I and far more accomplished than I will disagree passionately with that opinion.  But, well, they're wrong.  ;)

The proper way to talk about any subject in a piece of art is to simply say something true about the subject; the improper way is to push the audience to agree that the statement being made is true.  If the art is any good and the audience pays attention, then the audience will figure out for themselves that something true has been expressed in the art.  If the art is great, then the audience will not only figure that something true about reality was said in the art, but the artful way it was expressed will move them and speak to them in a way that nothing but art can.  This is what makes art great; it communicates something true about reality that can't be captured or expressed in any other way.

Those are not easy distinctions for artists to make, and many get it wrong, even unintentionally.  Here is an illustration that might help explain. 

There is a lot of rap music that talks about violence and sex.  I'm okay with all of that, in theory. 

I'm not okay with rap music or any other kind of music that tells its audience that violence is good or rape is good or sexism is good.  The problem with that music is that it fails with the highest and most basic goal of any art, which is to say something true about reality; it is not true but false for anyone to claim that violence is good or rape is good or sexism is good; we know all those things are basically bad (except in certain unusual circumstances).

Now -- stick with me, this gets very tricky -- is it then okay to make music that tells people that violence is bad or rape is bad or sexism is bad?  Actually, I would say, hell no.  That's a different kind of mistake.  The mistake there is not that the art is saying something untruthful, but that it's pushing the audience to agree with the perspective of the artist. 

If the artist is going to say anything at all about violence or rape or sexism, his or her job is to say something truthful about those things without pushing the audience to agree that it's truthful.

Now, if the artist does his or her job well -- if the artist succeeds in saying something true about violence or rape or sexism -- then the audience will come away with a greater understanding of the subject of the art; the audience will learn something true about violence or rape or sexism, and that truth may or may not include the truth that violence and rape and sexism are bad.  It could be that the artist wants to say something about violence or rape or sexism that has nothing whatsoever to do with the moral dimensions of those subjects; goodness or badness may not enter into the artwork at all, and that's okay, because the artist should be free to talk about any subject. 

Some people get upset over truthful depictions of violence or rape or sexism simply because they believe that none of those subjects should ever appear in art.  My mom is like that, for example; she can't watch movies that include lots of violence or sex.  Some of those movies -- the good ones -- could help her to understand truths about violence or sex or other parts of reality which she could not understand in any other way.  Her well-intentioned but misguided prohibitions limit her in that way.  It's her loss, in my opinion, but you know, she shouldn't lose sleep over it or anything.  :)

Then there are people who get upset over truthful depictions of violence or rape or sexism because they believe that any depiction of those things in art must include a didactic, moralizing message about how bad those things are.  You won't find such didacticism or moralizing in most great works of art, but what you will find is a depiction of violence or rape or sexism that teaches you something true about those things that you didn't realize before and perhaps could not have realized without being exposed to that truth in a piece of art.

Mmm.  These subjects are so abstract that they're hard to talk about.  Somebody let me know if any of that made any sense at all.  :)  If not, well, I'm tired, that's my excuse!  Or, if it didn't make sense, maybe someone else here can help explain better than I did, if you know what I was trying to say.  Oh, and sorry for the length! 
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 06:19:33 PM by rick957 »

Offline Oniya

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Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #248 on: November 08, 2012, 06:33:46 PM »
I'm a big believer in 'knowing the lyrics'.  (Not relying on silly labels - actually knowing the lyrics!)  The little Oni had a discussion session about rap music the other week, and they were supposed to draw conclusions about the genre.  (Rap was defined as strong beat, more spoken than sung, lots of rhyming.)  Naturally, with most of the kids being 'city kids', certain broad strokes were used as to the 'message' of rap music.  Being who I am (Pleased to meet you...) I took the opportunity to find things that didn't fit the neat little boxes, namely, Pet Shop Boys (Look, two white guys!) and Murray Head.  (It's a rap about ... chess?)

I explained to her that it's important to know what you're singing along to, so that you know what it is you're saying, and therefore what people hear you saying.  I then explained that while 'Hoodie Ninja' had a catchy tune and car commercial, the rest of the words aren't nearly as 'cute' as the part they play on TV.

Offline Ryuka Tana

Re: rude ramblings ... reader responses relished but never required
« Reply #249 on: November 08, 2012, 08:54:25 PM »
"While I don't agree with the concept of the 'right' way to do art, but I can accept that over not calling it art at all. Uhh... that's all I got for your wall of text this time. I think we're both mature enough to learn something from a debate (that's why I come to your blog), and here I think this is that 'agree to disagree' point for me. I don't think the point is objectionable, I see what you mean, but I still don't agree with the idea of 'the right way' to do art. I don't care for Springsteen, but I would support both his right and his decision to play for Obama."