Friday, November 14, 2008

A Small Break To (Re)Introduce Some Basic Ideas

I am now going to take a wee break in the proceedings here to tidy up a few things – in short, to mention some things that have been rattling around in my mind.

One of them is to say very directly that the reason the songs on this blog don’t have marks – x number of stars, a grade, a mark out of ten – is that these songs have already been saddled (if I can put it that way) with a number. That is more than enough. When I was growing up, I read Creem magazine and I wish I’d copied out & memorized the late great Rick Johnson’s reasoning against giving out marks; he basically thought they were useless and that the writing should be the thing. I realize this goes against the numbers-obsessed world of music writing, and that grades are fun to argue about…but when I listen to a song, I am not a judge in an Olympic sense, let alone a dog show one or even one at a local fair, where pies and cakes are put into competition. Derek Bailey once was interviewed (in)famously for The Wire's Invisible Jukebox and his comments on how “recording’s fine if it wasn’t for fucking records” really hit home – his basic approval of all records on the list as okay, coupled with his greater interest in playing and messing around, put all records into perspective for me. I will be enthusiastic (none of the songs so far has really grabbed me, I’ll admit) and I will protest (I’ve done that already), but the main thing here is to look at these songs and give them some time and space in which to live, and giving them yet another number won’t help them do that.

My mentioning of New Pop has prompted me to also give notice that since I want to write a book about it, I should give it time once in a while as well, in this case, the very beginnings of any musical idea – the grounds from which it sprang, figuratively and literally. When the charts began (can it be a coincidence? Hmm) the future movers and shakers of New Pop started to be born. However, a few were born beforehand – specifically, Robin Scott, Mike Chapman (both spring of ’47), not to mention fellow producers Martin Rushent (’48) Martin Hannett (’48), Trevor Horn (’49) and the ever-wiki-elusive Alan Tarney, who was born under a rock in Adelaide some time in the early 50s. As all Smash Hits fans know, both Adam Ant and Neil Tennant were born in ’54, and Green Gartside and Phil Oakey were born in ’55…New Pop is well and truly on its way, even though most of those concerned so far are babies or children who grew up in a world before rock, but would be well-versed in both pop and rock by the time they wrote their first song or produced their first single.

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