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Author Topic: Pope Said Pope Said  (Read 485 times)

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Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Pope Said Pope Said
« on: March 11, 2010, 08:40:04 PM »
They are songs about sex, zombies and every drug experience you can think of.

You wouldn't expect to find them on the Pope's iPod but the Vatican's official newspaper has given its blessing to a clutch of albums from some hard-living rock and rollers.

The Vatican's #1 album?  The Beatles' Revolver.  Very cool.

If you're interested in reading more, go here:

Beatles and Oasis in the Vatican's top ten classic albums



Could it be the best?

Offline rick957

Re: Pope Said Pope Said
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2010, 10:12:08 PM »
(hee hee, look how much time I have on my hands ...)

Spel, your posts are always terribly amusing.  :)  Also you have a cool name.

Okay, I have no idea why I bothered, but now that I've seen the list of supposed albums on the Pope's supposed iPod, I am having something of a personal crisis.

First of all, what are these two albums doing in this list?

The Nightfly by Donald Fagen
If I could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby

These are the only two albums on the list that I've never heard.  They're also the only two albums on the list that aren't incredibly super-famous, super-popular, and widely regarded as significant landmarks of 20th century pop.  (Almost.  More on that below.)

Does anyone know these albums?  Can anyone say what they're doing on this list? 

The presence of these albums on the list makes me think a real human being with idiosyncratic, personal tastes actually put together the list.  You could have picked the other 8 off of any list of popular albums of the rock and roll era, but these 2 would only have been chosen by someone who considered them personal favorites.  To elevate such obscurities to placement alongside such major works takes real audacity.

Thriller by Michael Jackson

Not to turn this into a discussion about pedophilia, but, um, the head of the Catholic church's supposed iPod includes an album by the world's most famous alleged pedophile?  Considering the church's widely publicized problems in this area, this pick further suggests that some individual put together the list; clearly the picks weren't vetted by the Catholic Church's publicity department.

Achtung Baby by U2

What's odd about this choice is that each of the other albums would be likely candidates for the best album ever released by each of the artists on the list:  the albums chosen were either the top-selling albums in each artist's catalog, or the best-regarded by critics, or both.  Not so in this case, this album was neither the most popular or the most critically acclaimed by U2; Joshua Tree would fill the former slot, and there's no widespread consensus on the latter in U2's case.

More proof of individual preferences on display, but whose preferences are they?  No group of people would agree on the U2, Fagen, or Crosby picks.  Is it possible the Pope has actually heard any of these albums, much less all of them?  Is it possible the Pope enjoys listening to music, much less popular music, or has an iPod?

Does it reflect well or poorly on these albums and artists that they showed up on this list?  Most importantly to me, as a music fan, how does their appearance on this list affect my relationship to each of these albums?  Two of these albums are personal favorites of mine, and to one extent or another, I like all 8 of the ones I've heard.  What does that say about my taste in music and that of the Pope?  Stranger still, isn't the Pope supposed to be some kind of stand-in representative for God?  Does this mean God shares my taste in music?  Why does the idea that the Pope has heard two of my favorite albums make me feel kind of dirty and personally violated?  Also, why hasn't the Pope heard James Brown, and what effect would the King of Funk have on Catholicism worldwide if someone snuck him onto the Pope's iPod?

Okay, I'm going to do something else now.  :)

P.S.  Say Spel, didn't mean to hijack your thread, I'll take my post down if you want, no biggie.

Offline Will

Re: Pope Said Pope Said
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2010, 11:29:28 PM »
Dude, it's Thriller.  It really is fantastic.  You don't think Michael Jackson was rich because of the Jackson Five, do you?

However, Dark Side of the Moon is so tired it's ridiculous.  Any top-# list with that album instantly loses my interest.

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Pope Said Pope Said
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2010, 06:04:44 AM »
Thanks for the replies, rick957 and Will!  I'm pleased that you judged it interesting.

P.S.  Say Spel, didn't mean to hijack your thread, I'll take my post down if you want, no biggie.

Quite the contrary -- I appreciate such thoughtful replies!  Thank you, too, for the kind words directed toward me myself.  I won't be able to offer much in the way of insight, I'm afraid, but I would like to say that you do bring up several good points.  Many of the list's selections do give the impression that the list itself was compiled by an individual rather than by, say, a panel analyzing the results of a dozen focus groups.  The inclusion of The Nightfly and If I Could Only Remember My Name and the exclusion of what most critics would consider more notable titles is odd.  I mean, yeah, I do know who Donald Fagen and David Crosby are, but I don't think that I've ever listened to either album and I don't recall anybody ever putting either of them on a "best of" list before.

I suspect that it was indeed just a guy or a small group informally jotting down their preferences.  L'Osservatore Romano doesn't have a huge staff, if I'm not mistaken, and obviously it doesn't really have any cred in the music world to lose by making a Bizarro list.  Someone probably just decided to write a list revolving around great albums and thought, Yeah, that's a good one!  I'll put that one on there!  At the very least, I doubt that there was any contribution or interference from the Holy See -- I mean, I doubt that the College of Cardinals got together and cast their votes: "Let's see... eligo in summum album... er... Abbey Road, I guess."

(And one of the paper's dual mottoes is "Unicuique Suum.")

Then again... well, at the risk of descending into cynicism, maybe that's what they wanted people to think: Maybe they wanted the appearance of idiosyncrasy to prevent the list from taking on the mechanical feel common to "best of" and "worst of" lists.  Maybe they came up with a typical top-ten list and tweaked it, tweaked it, tweaked it until it seemed human rather than homogenized.  "O.K., I think that we should throw out Pet Sounds and Highway 61 Revisited and brainstorm on a couple of lesser-known albums to replace them with.  Oh, and let's swap Achtung Baby for The Joshua Tree for a twist.  All in favor?"

(Actually, I imagine that most modern "best of" and "worst of" lists do incorporate a few controversial inclusions and omissions exactly to encourage debate and thus press.)

Oh, and I also found Thriller to be a curious choice given the Church's ongoing ethical and legal troubles.  On the other hand, Will's absolutely right: It is both a popular and a critically-acclaimed album.  I mean, it shows up at #20 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time"; on that list it beats Led Zeppelin, Hotel California, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (*ahem*), The Joshua Tree itself, and a bunch of other biggies.  Maybe somebody suggested it and they just figured, "Well, not too many people are going to complain if we put it on, but if we leave it off, some people might see that as an insinuation of guilt."  Or maybe it didn't even occur to them...

One question that struck me: Why create the list in the first place?  Like most "best of" lists, it's as likely to annoy people as it is to persuade them -- maybe even more so.  Why risk alienating people over what seems pretty irrelevant to the Church?  I mean, is any Catholic going to say, "Well, I was thinking of abandoning Catholicism, but man, that was a great list!"?  Is any non-Catholic going to say, "Wait -- I like Supernatural -- the Vatican likes Supernatural -- lead me to the freakin' body and the blood!"?  I think that it's more probable that some nutzoid would quit the Church because David Crosby helped Melissa Etheridge and Julie Cypher have kids.

The answer, I guess, is pretty straightforward.  It's my understanding that on the orders of the pope himself* L'Osservatore Romano has recently been extending an olive branch to the norms: They've favorably reviewed popular movies, including that suspicious Harry Potter series; they've written positively of Barack Obama's administration; they've come up with this "top ten" list.  I sense that they're just trying to engage with ordinary people on their own terms.  Historically, of course, the Vatican's leaned toward I shall now condescend so that we may discourse! instead of Hey, let's talk!.  When they produce a "semi-serious" list of the best rock albums, therefore, it seems to me that they're simply trying to demonstrate that, though they may be God's Earthly representatives, they're also human.  And if it contains some weirdness, that's cool -- after all, actual people are weird.

Maybe it's sincere; maybe it's pragmatic; most likely it's some of both.  Can it hurt to put away the vinegar and take out the honey?  Hey, the Vatican wouldn't be the only ones doing it.

Whether the above idea is right or not, the list was fairly well-received, with most people commending the selections in general.  Heck, even The Guardian offered favorable words on it; I'd call that a success.  Opinions on the albums themselves seem the same.

With regard to whether the pope himself listens to any or all of these albums... oh, goodness, I don't know.

He plays the piano
and he loves classical music, so it's strange (for me, anyhow) to imagine him groovin' to "She Said She Said."  Then again, I love classical music, too, so whatever.

As for whether God grooves to "She Said She Said"... well, somehow that isn't particularly strange for me to imagine.

Incidentally, I'm really sorry to hear that you feel dirty knowing that the pope might have heard two of your favorite albums.  It sounds as though he might have listened to your albums liberally; he might even have strapped you into his Popemobile and cranked 'em WAY UP.  I recommend Dr. Bronner's.

Seriously, I wouldn't worry too much if the pope does indeed like the albums mentioned -- hey, they are superb!

Oh, and I'm inclined to think that Pope John XXIII was more of a James Brown kind of guy.

Thanks again for everything, guys!


* According to the paper's present editor, Giovanni Maria Vian: "When I took over the paper, the pope wrote me a letter in which he said that L'Osservatore had to be present in the cultural debate."

Oh, and on Michael Jackson: "When we publish an article on Michael Jackson and say that he was an important phenomenon, that does not mean the pope is giving him his blessing."

Soul shine!

Offline rick957

Re: Pope Said Pope Said
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2010, 01:01:44 AM »
Just wanted to say, thanks for the detailed response, Spel, I enjoyed it immensely.  :)
« Last Edit: May 24, 2010, 01:09:25 AM by rick957 »

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Pope Said Pope Said
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2010, 09:36:25 PM »
You're welcome indeed!  Thanks for the thoughtful words!


Thanking one and all...