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Gen Xers tweak geezers' sacred cows
Albuquerque Tribune ^ | 7/9/04 | J.M. Baról

Posted on 07/09/2004 1:17:06 PM PDT by qam1

Like any organized religion, rock 'n' roll has its own dogma.

Rolling Stone magazine is the gospel.

Any male singer with big lips is worth glorifying.

To be a true guitar player, one must learn the intro to "Stairway to Heaven."

Elvis Presley was, is and always will be king.

With those tenets come a slew of albums as holy as the Bible. "Born in the U.S.A.," "Tommy," "The Dark Side of the Moon" and - amen, hallelujah - "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

But it's time, says a restless group of music critics, to look those canons straight in their beady little platinum eyes and flick them off their pedestals.

In the new book, "Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics," that's exactly what they do: debunk - no, annihilate - the myth of rock ¹n' roll righteousness.

"Rock 'n' roll's the devil's music, right? So it's absurd to treat it like a religion and have this canon that it's made of saints that we can't criticize," the book's creator and co-editor Jim DeRogatis says in that jaded, edgy tone only a rock music critic can get away with.

Thirty-four music writers - mostly in their 20s and 30s and mostly under the Spin/Rolling Stone readers' radar - took on the challenge of debunking society-in-general's cherished albums.

"Call it a spirited assault on a pantheon that has been foisted upon us, or a defiant rejection of the hegemonic view of rock history espoused by the critics who preceded us," DeRogatis writes in the introduction.

One of the book's contributors is Leanne Potts, a former Tribune reporter who now writes about pop culture for Albuquerque's morning newspaper.

Her target of choice? Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album "Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd."

What? How could one of the most memorable rock albums in history, one that includes "Gimme Three Steps," "Simple Man" and "Free Bird" - hello! "Free Bird"! - be on anyone's worst-album ever list?

For Potts, 38, her contempt for the 1973 album is less about its sound - although she writes that Ronnie Van Zant's lyrics "lack the sort of telling details that make a good song great" - and more about the Southern stigma that came with it.

"I didn't like the whole American-by-birth, Southern-by-grace-of-God ethos that had come to be associated with Southern rock bands like Skynyrd," writes Potts, who was born and raised in Alabama.

"I wanted none of Skynyrd's talk of down-home values. It sounded like Moral Majority code speak, and this teenaged member of Greenpeace and fan of musical minimalists such as the Ramones and Devo was having none of this Confederate-flag-waving, axe-wielding mob of rednecks in bell-bottoms."

And just like that, Potts buzz-saws through an institution no critic has had the gall to berate under his or her breath, let alone in a much-anticipated 300-page paperback - a book that received tyrannical criticism on the Internet weeks before its release.

Potts admits she was only 7 when the album came out and didn't start listening to it intently until she was 15 - a ploy to impress her Skynyrd die-hard boyfriend.

But she resents the notion that just because she didn't grow up with the baby boomers, she wouldn't know what Lynyrd Skynyrd or any other music of the time was all about.

"It sticks in my craw that rock is so skewed to the boomers," Potts says. "Like 'You don't know; you weren't there,' in this condescending tone, like we were born too late.

"Skynyrd's album is the one I thought of partly because of the southern connection. Because they were classic rock and because I lived in the South, they were gods. They were always there."

One of the writers - DeRogatis' wife, Carmel Carrillo - chose not to efface an album. She instead came up with a list of songs each of her ex-boyfriends cherished, therefore killing their idols.

It's important to note that just because the writers protest their least favorite album doesn't mean they dislike that band. DeRogatis, for example, who targets the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," says one of his all-time favorite albums is the Fab Four's "Revolver."

The majority of the book is criticism of albums from the '60s and '70s, a few '80s and '90s releases, and one from 2003.

So what's the gripe with classic rock?

"The business of canonizing things is a real particular baby boomer trait," DeRogatis says from his home office in Chicago. "It's the generation most reluctant to give up their youth and their place in history.

"Gen X never believed the hype."

DeRogatis, a 39-year-old pop music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, shopped the book's concept for a couple of years but soon realized publishers weren't interested in books of all-negative reviews.

"But one of my favorite books is my colleague Roger Ebert's collection of all his pans," says DeRogatis, who finally landed with Barricade Books. "When I read a negative review it makes me think about my own perspective. I'm looking for another idea. I'm looking to be challenged."

Delve into DeRogatis' history as a writer, and it's no wonder he took on such an edgy project. According to reports, in 1996 DeRogatis was fired as a senior editor at Rolling Stone magazine for writing a blazing critique of a Hootie and the Blowfish album. His review was replaced by a much happier one.

"I'll confess that in the midst of editing this collection, I had a brief crisis of conscience when I wondered if this book was too much of a childish exercise - the rock-critic equivalent of the bratty kid wiping his snot on the blackboard in feeble protestation of the injustices of third-grade life," he writes.

But in the end, "Kill Your Idols" happened, and DeRogatis "couldn't be prouder."

"It was a labor of love," he says. "It's an odd thing to say about a book about bands these writers hate."

So does even DeRogatis have his own sacred cows?

"I may have had a problem if someone in the book tried to take apart Kraftwerk or Black Sabbath or Velvet Underground," he admits.

For Potts, two of her all-time favorite albums are U2's "The Joshua Tree," and Nirvana's "Nevermind" - two albums that showed up in the book.

But she's OK with it.

"I love the spirit of argument," she says. "I don't understand people who get angry about music. Part of the benefit of music is we sit around and talk about it."

*** TARGETED IDOLS

The following albums are taken to pasture in "Kill Your Idols."

"Pet Sounds," the Beach Boys (1966)

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the Beatles (1967)

"Smile," the Beach Boys (1967)

"Sweetheart of the Rodeo," the Byrds (1968)

"Tommy," the Who (1969)

"Kick Out the Jams," the MC5 (1969)

"Trout Mask Replica," Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band (1969)

"Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs," Derek and the Dominos (1970)

"Ram," Paul and Linda McCartney (1971)

"Untitled ('IV')," Led Zeppelin (1971)

"Harvest," Neil Young (1972)

"Exile on Main St.," the Rolling Stones (1972)

"Desperado," the Eagles (1973)

"Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd," Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973)

"The Dark Side of the Moon," Pink Floyd (1973)

"GP/Grievous Angel," Gram Parsons (1973/1974; rereleased in 1990)

"Blood on the Tracks," Bob Dylan (1975)

"Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen (1975)

"Horses," Patti Smith (1975)

"Exodus," Bob Marley & the Wailers (1977)

"Rumours," Fleetwood Mac (1977)

"Never Mind the Bollocks . . . Here's the Sex Pistols," the Sex Pistols (1977)

"Double Fantasy," John Lennon/Yoko Ono (1980)

"Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables," Dead Kennedys (1980)

"Imperial Bedroom," Elvis Costello and the Attractions (1982)

"Born in the U.S.A.," Bruce Springsteen (1984)

"The Best of the Doors," the Doors (1985)

"The Joshua Tree," U2 (1987)

"It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back," Public Enemy (1988)

"Nevermind," Nirvana (1991)

"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," Smashing Pumpkins (1995)

"OK Computer," Radiohead (1997)

"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," Wilco (2003)


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: babyboomers; disco; genx; glam; metal; music; punk
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To: qam1
"I didn't like the whole American-by-birth, Southern-by-grace-of-God ethos that had come to be associated with Southern rock bands like Skynyrd," writes Potts, who was born and raised in Alabama.

"I wanted none of Skynyrd's talk of down-home values. It sounded like Moral Majority code speak, and this teenaged member of Greenpeace and fan of musical minimalists such as the Ramones and Devo was having none of this Confederate-flag-waving, axe-wielding mob of rednecks in bell-bottoms."


In other words, I have a stereotypical view that this band is not politically correct therefore I give their music a bad review. This is how you review music?
41 posted on 07/09/2004 1:50:48 PM PDT by Arkinsaw
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To: qam1
And just like that, Potts buzz-saws through an institution no critic has had the gall to berate under his or her breath, let alone in a much-anticipated 300-page paperback - a book that received tyrannical criticism on the Internet weeks before its release.

Oh, come ON. I have been saying loud and proud for YEARS that - watch the argument this starts - SKYNYRD SUCKS.
42 posted on 07/09/2004 1:53:48 PM PDT by Xenalyte (No one will be sitting in sackcloth and ashes wailing, "Oh, if only we had listened to Art Bell!")
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To: RockinRight
She likes the Ramones? Wonder if she knows Joey Ramone is a Republican?

Was a Republican. He died in 2001 so he'll be voting for the Dems for now on.

43 posted on 07/09/2004 1:54:05 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Warm & sour lemonade because life didn't give ice & sugar.)
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To: qam1

Aha. I see. Now we see the emergence of the Michael Moore school of acquiring fame and fortune by dumping on other peoples' stuff with ephemeral nonsense and feigned insight.


44 posted on 07/09/2004 1:55:27 PM PDT by Attention Surplus Disorder (You get more with a gun and a smile than just a smile itself!)
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To: qam1
For Potts, two of her all-time favorite albums are U2's "The Joshua Tree," and Nirvana's "Nevermind" - two albums that showed up in the book.

U2 is an amazingly overrated band. When I was in grad school, we had access to a program that would do a fairly in-depth grammar analysis of whatever text you fed it. I fed it the lyrics to every U2 song I could lay hands on . . . and it found that on average, U2 songs use some 30% fewer discrete words than the usual song.

Which, of course, strengthens my contention that like Skynyrd, U2 sucks.
45 posted on 07/09/2004 1:55:35 PM PDT by Xenalyte (No one will be sitting in sackcloth and ashes wailing, "Oh, if only we had listened to Art Bell!")
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To: qam1

AAAAAAARGH! The '80s broad with the frizzy bangs and the ugly eye makeup is back!


46 posted on 07/09/2004 1:56:11 PM PDT by Xenalyte (No one will be sitting in sackcloth and ashes wailing, "Oh, if only we had listened to Art Bell!")
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To: Mr. Bird

I like the Ramones, Sabbath, AND Hank . . . but Skynyrd is better off never played around me, IMHO.


47 posted on 07/09/2004 1:57:09 PM PDT by Xenalyte (No one will be sitting in sackcloth and ashes wailing, "Oh, if only we had listened to Art Bell!")
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To: Ichneumon

Anyone who uses the word "hegemony" and isn't talking about geopolitics makes me want to retch.


48 posted on 07/09/2004 1:58:12 PM PDT by Xenalyte (No one will be sitting in sackcloth and ashes wailing, "Oh, if only we had listened to Art Bell!")
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To: Betis70

I'm 47 and I like the Black Album but I also like Master of Puppets. But I also like Pink Floyd.


49 posted on 07/09/2004 1:58:22 PM PDT by Auntbee
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To: Mr. Bird

Prince may not come across as much over the radio, but it wouldn't be a big stretch to call him a "musical genius." He can play just about every instrument there is, and usually plays the backup to his own albums in studio.


50 posted on 07/09/2004 1:59:21 PM PDT by Xenalyte (No one will be sitting in sackcloth and ashes wailing, "Oh, if only we had listened to Art Bell!")
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To: qam1
"Call it a spirited assault on a pantheon that has been foisted upon us, or a defiant rejection of the hegemonic view of rock history espoused by the critics who preceded us," DeRogatis writes in the introduction.

Ummm... yeah. If this is just the introduction, I doubt too many "Gen Xers" are going to bother with the rest of the book. In fact, I wonder how long it took him to come up with such grandiose drivel.

51 posted on 07/09/2004 2:00:02 PM PDT by workerbee
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To: qam1
"I wanted none of Skynyrd's talk of down-home values. It sounded like Moral Majority code speak, and this teenaged member of Greenpeace . . .

She doesn't like Skynyrd cause she's a hippie. LOL

Anyway since when are the Sex Pistols a Boomer band?

52 posted on 07/09/2004 2:01:13 PM PDT by Tribune7
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To: qam1
I think I own only one of the albums on my list, but my brother is going to be real disappointed by the Dark Side of the Moon being on the list.

I for one have always thought the beetles and the beach boys were always over rated.

53 posted on 07/09/2004 2:02:15 PM PDT by dts32041 (Gen Karpinski A bullet, A Gun, a Room, her only honorable solution (MP Officer Not))
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To: Auntbee

I am a tepid Metallica fan. Dunno why, I just never got into them. The Black Album seemed good to me, but I had so many Metallica fans tell me they 'sold out' with that album. Whatever that means.

I like Floyd too. Right not I have Allison Krauss playing, and before that I had Everclear, The Waterboys, and John Williams (the classical guitarist guy, not the composer). So a bit of an eclectic mix.


54 posted on 07/09/2004 2:03:07 PM PDT by Betis70
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To: Arkinsaw

I agree that there's a tendency in society to deify certain legendary performers and to place them above criticism. In that sense, it's kind of refreshing to see someone taking on the sacred cows.

However, to do that the right way requires some true insights. I obviously haven't read this new book of critical reviews, but from the portions provided by this article it looks mostly like some shallow efforts to appear hoilier than thou on the PC scale.

So we get an attack on Lynyrd Skynyrd for being southern. We get some chick blasting some albums to get even with old boyfriends. Gee, that's intellectual.

I don't think I'll be wasting money on this book.


55 posted on 07/09/2004 2:04:36 PM PDT by puroresu
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To: Arkinsaw

I agree that there's a tendency in society to deify certain legendary performers and to place them above criticism. In that sense, it's kind of refreshing to see someone taking on the sacred cows.

However, to do that the right way requires some true insights. I obviously haven't read this new book of critical reviews, but from the portions provided by this article it looks mostly like some shallow efforts to appear hoilier than thou on the PC scale.

So we get an attack on Lynyrd Skynyrd for being southern. We get some chick blasting some albums to get even with old boyfriends. Gee, that's intellectual.

I don't think I'll be wasting money on this book.


56 posted on 07/09/2004 2:04:40 PM PDT by puroresu
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To: Betis70

I'm the same way. A little bit of everything (except country and rap).


57 posted on 07/09/2004 2:05:26 PM PDT by Auntbee
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To: Auntbee

I listened to the early Rap (Run DMC kind of stuff), but don't really like much anymore.

I used to draw the line at opera too, but now I kinda like it. Well some of it anyway.


58 posted on 07/09/2004 2:07:40 PM PDT by Betis70
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To: Constitution Day
I've been getting my 4-year-old daughter to say "Hay, mayun, play me sum Free Bird!" in the car.

Good work! That's more or less how I picked up on the classics myself - riding around in the car while dad had them on the "new" tape deck. We also had an 8 track in a Datsun Z, but that was a little before my time. Two decades later I still got the same stuff playing, only now on the CD changer in the back of my truck. So teach 'em right and it'll stick with them for the rest of their lives.

59 posted on 07/09/2004 2:10:58 PM PDT by GOPcapitalist ("Can Lincoln expect to subjugate a people thus resolved? No!" - Sam Houston, 3/1863)
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To: annyokie

"...it is Eric Clapton."

Last week there was a charity auction of many of EC's guitars.
One was the famous 'Blackie' he used during the Slow Hand period. It brought $850,000.00! It would seem others share your view!


60 posted on 07/09/2004 2:12:09 PM PDT by bk1000 ("We will take things away from you for the common good.": -HRC)
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