Oregon weblogger Don Wakefield writes that he’s loving the new Wilco recording Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Since he gets most of his music referrals from his websurfing, he’s curious who recommended it to him but, through his “shoddy bookkeeping” he is frustrated that he cannot recall. A source whose tastes are similar to his is slipping through his fingers! Finally (courtesy of Google??) he ascertains that it was my two recent references on FmH. Actually, I’ve mentioned Wilco three times around the current attention the band is getting — here
, and here
. But Wakefield laments that, while I point to rave reviews, I do not make my own reactions known. Can he trust my taste?
The answer, Don, is yes and no. As it happens, I’m wild about YHF too, and it has had an honored place on my CD turntable in recent months (actually, right now it is in my car deck). I loved the Mermaid Avenue stuff as well, although that was at least at first because I’m a fierce Billy Bragg fan and reverent about Woody Guthrie. But I think Tweedy has reached a pinnacle with the new material.
I would, however, have probably blinked to the Wilco stuff even if I didn’t like the music so much. I tend to post what interests me — and what I think will interest or edify FmH’s readers [which may be tautologous, because you wouldn’t keep reading if it didn’t keep interesting you…] — and I was struck by Wilco’s giving the album to their fans for free download before its commercial release; by the fact of a rave in the NYT, especially by critic Jon Pareles; and by how an attempt to make a film about the band turned into “a classic three-act narrative, replete with surprise turns, stunning rejections, and an emblematic clash with Corporate Rock.” The documentary is on my list, although I probably won’t get to see it until I can rent the DVD, because I could never get my wife to go along with spending one of our hard-won opportunities for time together, when we have managed to score a babysitter, in that way. And therein hangs a tale…
Coming of age in the ’60’s and early ’70’s, I wore my artistic sensibilities like a bumper sticker of political correctness (I could easily be embarrassed by someone associated with me being seen to like the ‘wrong’ thing), but what I enjoy now is much more a matter of what moves me, in an interior and unfathomably individual way, rather than what social clique I participate in by liking something. So I no longer have to proclaim my tastes and no longer have any expectation that anyone I love or appreciate will have similar tastes. And, indeed, my closest friends are incredibly diverse in what moves them aesthetically. I once chuckled in print
about how at one time I could never have imagined spending my life with someone who didn’t love the Grateful Dead as much as I did, and I ended up marrying someone who was only barely aware of their existence. On the other hand, I could never conceive of being married to a Bush Republican (or even a card-carrying Democrat!). My wife and I would consider it a failure to convey our entire set of values to our children if they turned out to support some of the oppressive, life-denying, heinous standards of our elected leaders (or most corporate officials, for that matter). Yet I have nothing invested in them grooving to the same Garcia licks or, for that matter, transported by the same moments in St. Matthew’s Passion, that I enjoy. Our children’s musical and literary tastes are, already, quite distinctive,but they understand about Bush…
In my weblogging, while I am unabashed about my political opinions (I’m edified, for example, that Rebecca Blood
cited me in her list of “webloggers with strong voice” in her new book
, and I seem to get noticed by Le Blogeur
more when I’m most “out there”), Don’s post helped me realize that, indeed, I have been much less committal about my taste in music, film or books here and, yes, you cannot necessarily conclude that I am endorsing a particular creative work if I mention it. Nor should you conclude that, because we like something in common, you will like other things that I like. Nor, I hope, should you think anything less of me if you don’t, for example, care for Wilco… Even if you find my musical tastes totally uncool, I’m still a cool guy…
Only peripherally related: Chuck Palahniuk’s forthcoming novel
appears to be about the dangers of excessive congruence of musical taste [grin]:
In his last novel, Choke (1999), Palahniuk proved he could write a best-seller without sacrificing his trademark biting satire. And in Lullaby, he manages an even more impressive feat by showing himself capable of tenderness as well as outrage. The story, of course, is plenty outrageous. Middle-aged journalist Carl Streator discovers that all children who die of SIDS are read the same poem the night before their deaths, an African “culling song” traditionally sung to sick animals and people to ease their pain and hasten death. Once he discovers that simply reciting the poem in someone’s direction is invariably fatal, Streator can’t stop murdering. Then he finds out that Helen Hoover Boyle, a real-estate agent who sells the same haunted houses over and over again, knows the secret, too. They set out on a grand literary road trip to destroy all extant copies of the song. The narrative itself becomes a sort of lullaby, hypnotically repeating its anti-advertising, anti-everything catchphrases, lulling the reader into a false sense of security just as it launches all-out attacks on America’s “It’s a Small World after All” culture. It’s a fun ride, but what separates this novel from Palahniuk’s previous work (Fight Club, 2001) is its emotional depth, its ability to explore the unbearable pain of losing a child just as richly as it laments our consume-or-die worldview. amazon.com