Earlier this week, whern our apricot-tinted dictator read a bunch of lies and platitudes from a teleprompter and blithely exploited the widow of a Navy SEAL whose death he eschewed all responsibility for, it became abundantly clear that bullshit is king in 2017. Truth is all subjective. Wrong is right. Cats love dogs, etc.
But instead of discussing that -– or further developments like Attorney General Jeff Sessions needing to recuse himself after being caught for lying his mealy mouth off about being in contact with fucking Russian officials during the election season --- I’m going to discuss some comparatively super trivial shit. I can’t keep banging the political drum here. I don’t expect many come to this blog for that sorta stuff. Lord know there’s enough of it elsehwere. I can’t speak for yours, but my Facebook feed is like an angry roll of flaming toilet paper these days (not that I’m really helping, but still..).
Anyway, in terms of stupid shit that pisses me off of a pointedly NON-political nature, I keep seeing this irritating headline popping up on a regular basis, that being, 12 Albums Every Dude Should Own.
Now, I’m sure writer James Sheldon -– who penned this piece a little over a year ago for a man-centric pop culture outlet dubbed GOLIATH –- is a well-intentioned and savvy gent, but there’s something about the whole premise that sets my teeth on edge.
Listen, the bottom line is this: You can’t teach taste. You have to develop it on your own. It must be cultivated via your own experience. It’s an organic process.
But, then, this piece doesn’t seem to even be about that. While, yes, Sheldon probably genuinely does harbor an affinity for these particular albums (however pedestrian some of them are), the overaching intention of the article is to provide a short-cut for “dudes” without the time or inclination to do the work themselves. It is pure affectation. In much the same way Urban Outfitter sells vinyl LP’s as do-it-yourself hipster accessories to be strewn just-so across one’s coffee table, this article is a shallow device to help “bros” create the façade of having a well-rounded, cannonical knowledge of popular music.
Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.
I remember Rolling Stone magazine used to sell these dinky, compact-disc-sized paperback guides with a similar intent, ala “25 Crucial Rock Albums No Collection Should Be Without” (or something ridiculous to that same effect). The whole intention of these books seemed to be to coax commentary from impressionable shelf-perusers. “Ooh, Dan, you’ve got albums by The Flying Burrito Brothers, Brian Eno AND A Tribe Called Quest -– You’re so ECLECTIC!!!”
Obviously, the best music journalism is the kind that illuminates and informs. While the deliberately negative stuff can be fun to read – let alone much easier and tremendously more fun to write –- composing thoughtful, evocative prose that credibly evangelizes music in a manner that prompts genuine reader interest is no small feat. But in those rare instances, I dare suggest that it is solely about the listening experience, and not even remotely concerned about contriving some sort of instant semblance of esoteric taste.
Indeed, whet their musical appetites, but prompt them to seek out and discover for themselves. By all means, write about music. But do it because you’re legitimately moved to share the life-enriching pleasure of that music with the uninitiated, not to help lazy dudebros make the right impression with a “Get Hip Quick” scheme.
ADDENDUM: It occurred to me, shortly after posting this, that had GOLIATH simply titled the post "12 Albums Every Dude Should HEAR," I never would have thought twice about it.