PDA

View Full Version : Someone eloquent is trying to make Asher's point!


Scabrous Birdseed
29-12-2002, 23:40:50
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/29/magazine/29RAMONE.html (NYT free reg required)

What an arsehole. I've made a really long angry comment to this over at Blue's News, which isn't particularly well-written, I feel, so I'll let other people post their opinions of the article first.

MattHiggs
30-12-2002, 02:49:40
Any chance you can quote the article for those too lazy to register? ;)

Funkodrom
30-12-2002, 12:02:25
Yeah, that would be handy.

Scabrous Birdseed
30-12-2002, 15:25:37
Er, okay. It's somewhat long.

DEE DEE RAMONE, B. 1952; ROBBIN CROSBY, B. 1959
The Ratt Trap
By CHUCK KLOSTERMAN

Dee Dee Ramone and Robbin Crosby were both shaggy-haired musicians who wrote aggressive music for teenagers. Both were unabashed heroin addicts. Neither was the star of his respective band: Dee Dee played bass for the Ramones, a seminal late-70's punk band; Crosby played guitar for Ratt, a seminal early-80's heavy-metal band. They died within 24 hours of each other last spring, and each had only himself to blame for the way he perished. In a macro sense, they were symmetrical, self-destructive clones; for anyone who isn't obsessed with rock 'n' roll, they were basically the same guy.

Yet anyone who is obsessed with rock 'n' roll would define these two humans as diametrically different. To rock aficionados, Dee Dee and the Ramones were ''important'' and Crosby and Ratt were not. We are all supposed to concede this. We are supposed to know that the Ramones saved rock 'n' roll by fabricating their surnames, sniffing glue and playing consciously unpolished three-chord songs in the Bowery district of New York. We are likewise supposed to acknowledge that Ratt sullied rock 'n' roll by abusing hair spray, snorting cocaine and playing highly produced six-chord songs on Hollywood's Sunset Strip.

There is no denying that the Ramones were a beautiful idea. It's wrong to claim that they invented punk, but they certainly came the closest to idealizing what most people agree punk is supposed to sound like. They wrote the same two-minute song over and over and over again -- unabashedly, for 20 years -- and the relentlessness of their riffing made certain people feel like everything about the world had changed forever. And perhaps those certain people were right. However, those certain people remain alone in their rightness, because the Ramones were never particularly popular.

The Ramones never made a platinum record over the course of their entire career. Bands like the Ramones don't make platinum records; that's what bands like Ratt do. And Ratt was quite adroit at that task, doing it four times in the 1980's. The band's first album, ''Out of the Cellar,'' sold more than a million copies in four months. Which is why the deaths of Dee Dee Ramone and Robbin Crosby created such a mathematical paradox: the demise of Ramone completely overshadowed the demise of Crosby, even though Crosby co-wrote a song (''Round and Round'') that has probably been played on FM radio and MTV more often than every track in the Ramones' entire catalog. And what's weirder is that no one seems to think this imbalance is remotely strange.

What the parallel deaths of Ramone and Crosby prove is that it really doesn't matter what you do artistically, nor does it matter how many people like what you create; what matters is who likes what you do artistically and what liking that art is supposed to say about who you are. Ratt was profoundly uncool (read: populist) and the Ramones were profoundly significant (read: interesting to rock critics). Consequently, it has become totally acceptable to say that the Ramones' ''I Wanna Be Sedated'' changed your life; in fact, saying that would define you as part of a generation that became disenfranchised with the soullessness of suburbia, only to rediscover salvation through the integrity of simplicity. However, it is laughable to admit (without irony) that Ratt's ''I Want a Woman'' was your favorite song in 1989; that would mean you were stupid, and that your teenage experience meant nothing, and that you probably had a tragic haircut.

The reason Crosby's June 6 death was mostly ignored is that his band seemed corporate and fake and pedestrian; the reason Ramone's June 5 death will be remembered is that his band was seen as representative of a counterculture that lacked a voice. But the contradiction is that countercultures get endless media attention: the only American perspectives thought to have any meaningful impact are those that come from the fringes. The voice of the counterculture is, in fact, inexplicably deafening. Meanwhile, mainstream culture (i.e., the millions and millions of people who bought Ratt albums merely because that music happened to be the soundtrack for their lives) is usually portrayed as an army of mindless automatons who provide that counterculture with something to rail against. The things that matter to normal people are not supposed to matter to smart people.

Now, I know what you're thinking; you're thinking I'm overlooking the obvious, which is that the Ramones made ''good music'' and Ratt made ''bad music,'' and that's the real explanation as to why we care about Dee Dee's passing while disregarding Robbin's. And that rebuttal makes sense, I suppose, if you're the kind of person who honestly believes the concept of ''good taste'' is anything more than a subjective device used to create gaps in the intellectual class structure. I would argue that Crosby's death was actually a more significant metaphor than Ramone's, because Crosby was the first major hair-metal artist from the Reagan years to die from AIDS. The genre spent a decade consciously glamorizing (and aggressively experiencing) faceless sex and copious drug use. It will be interesting to see whether the hesher casualties now start piling up. Meanwhile, I don't know if Ramone's death was a metaphor for anything; he's just a good guy who died on his couch from shooting junk. But as long as you have the right friends, your funeral will always matter a whole lot more.

Chuck Klosterman is a senior writer for Spin and the author of ''Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota.'' His last article for the magazine was a profile of Billy Joel.

Wot a bitter, misguided nasty bastard.

Funkodrom
30-12-2002, 23:44:36
if you're the kind of person who honestly believes the concept of ''good taste'' is anything more than a subjective device used to create gaps in the intellectual class structure.

Great point.

KrazyHorse
31-12-2002, 00:08:08
Crap point.

Scabrous Birdseed
31-12-2002, 11:52:18
Extremely logically flawed point too. If it's a universal criterion whereby elites dictate what's intelectually acceptable it's hardly subjective in the personal sense, is it? Not the "all tastes are equivalent" nihilistic mantra that he's trying to push elsewhere. No, he is basically just trying to confuse the discourse-theoretic "subjective" with our everyday use of the term, but even with a comparative discourse definition he's dead wrong, and ignoring the mechanics of human psychology.

I think good music is, in a basic moral sense, better than bad music, and I believe there are many criteria from the prevalence of hooks to something as nebulous as "nerve" that are basically universal values because they affect each and every one of us in the same way. Sure, as with any observation we're all looking for different things intellectually, but I think there's a lower level of goodness than that. How else would we extend the discourse if we cannot "feel"?

Lazarus and the Gimp
31-12-2002, 12:38:16
It misses one basic point. The Ramones wrote better songs.

To say "all Ramones songs sound the same" is crap. So what if they only used three chords? There's only three primary colours, but that doesn't mean all paintings look alike.

Provost Harrison
31-12-2002, 18:15:31
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed
Extremely logically flawed point too. If it's a universal criterion whereby elites dictate what's intelectually acceptable it's hardly subjective in the personal sense, is it? Not the "all tastes are equivalent" nihilistic mantra that he's trying to push elsewhere. No, he is basically just trying to confuse the discourse-theoretic "subjective" with our everyday use of the term, but even with a comparative discourse definition he's dead wrong, and ignoring the mechanics of human psychology.

I think good music is, in a basic moral sense, better than bad music, and I believe there are many criteria from the prevalence of hooks to something as nebulous as "nerve" that are basically universal values because they affect each and every one of us in the same way. Sure, as with any observation we're all looking for different things intellectually, but I think there's a lower level of goodness than that. How else would we extend the discourse if we cannot "feel"?

:clueless:

Lazarus and the Gimp
31-12-2002, 19:45:14
The Ramones are probably as famous and well-known now as they were in their heyday. Ratt aren't. History is a brutally unsentimental decider, and the simple fact is that the Ramones' work is ageing better.

moomin
31-12-2002, 19:53:31
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed
I think good music is, in a basic moral sense, better than bad music,

Nietzsche would cry with joy.

Gott Nytt År på dig, trots att du är gnagare!

The Bursar
01-01-2003, 16:49:47
I didn't like "I wanna be sedated"

Provost Harrison
01-01-2003, 18:33:39
Are you mad?! :eek:

Debaser
01-01-2003, 20:04:15
Foxy Japanese pop band Shonen Knife do a great cover of I Wanna be Sedated.

Funkodrom
02-01-2003, 09:25:18
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed
Extremely logically flawed point too. If it's a universal criterion whereby elites dictate what's intelectually acceptable it's hardly subjective in the personal sense, is it? Not the "all tastes are equivalent" nihilistic mantra that he's trying to push elsewhere. No, he is basically just trying to confuse the discourse-theoretic "subjective" with our everyday use of the term, but even with a comparative discourse definition he's dead wrong, and ignoring the mechanics of human psychology.

I think good music is, in a basic moral sense, better than bad music, and I believe there are many criteria from the prevalence of hooks to something as nebulous as "nerve" that are basically universal values because they affect each and every one of us in the same way. Sure, as with any observation we're all looking for different things intellectually, but I think there's a lower level of goodness than that. How else would we extend the discourse if we cannot "feel"?

You can definitely prove that music has an effect on people. Certain classical pieces more than any modern music.

I don't see that music has anything whatsoever to do with morals as far as I can work out.

I can accept that there are some tunes that work better for people than others but I don't think it's entirely universal. As well as natural feels for rhythm and melody there is also a cultural aspect that teaches you to understand how it's structured. Otherwise surely all areas of the world would have basically developed the same styles of music? Which I think is basically agreeing with your second paragraph.

Asher
04-01-2003, 02:17:20
This guy pisses me off.

He's just as bad as the music critics.

paiktis22
07-01-2003, 18:45:00
Just read the first couple of paragraphs.
Dee Dee Ramone was not "just a member" of the band. He wrote most of the songs.

And Ramones were really pop ;)
One of my favorite bands..

paiktis22
07-01-2003, 18:57:02
Also as Laz alured to there are a precious few bands that will be always liked and elevated to a cult like status by all new rocking generations for the foreseable future.

Ramones are certaintly one of them.
It could have been much worse I think.