I love talking trash when it comes to music. I can totally relate to the guys in High-Fidelity, the record store geeks in Nick Hornby’s book. Strong opinions and arguments about music just for the pure joy of it. For me, there is almost nothing better than sitting in a bar and talking shit about music with people over a beer. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorite statements used to lure the unsuspecting in. Statements designed by their very nature to demand a response from any rock n’ roll lover worth their salt.
1.There’s the Beatles, Then Everyone Else.
That includes the Stones, Zeppelin, Bowie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Taylor Swift, Bob Dylan, Elvis or any other name you want to throw out there. The best you can hope for, if we’re talking Best Rock Band of All Time, is #2. In all honesty, that’s not even true, because the Stones have that slot locked down. The question has always been “Beatles or Stones?” for a reason. But yeah, the Beatles are undeniably the top slot, always. Period. They defined modern music. Changed all the rules. Filled the brains of several generations with their catchy, often subversive, little ditties. The Stones, they’re amazing. Their catalog of work (until the mid-80s) was staggeringly brilliant, and just like the Beatles, they took over the world with their songs and their attitude. The Stones, however, were still tied to their blues roots much more tightly than the Beatles. The Beatles proved that music could be anything. Any influence from anywhere. Any tradition, borrowed, tweaked or stolen. They redefined what modern music could be.
2. Radiohead is This Generation’s Pink Floyd.
Think about it, both of these groups are massive critical and popular favorites. Both focused on the experience of the album, not just creating a collection of songs. Both deal with themes of alienation, isolation, and fear. Both pushed the boundaries of what their music could become. Just listen to THE WALL and OK COMPUTER back to back and tell me I’m wrong. These guys are playing in the same space. They just happen to be doing it a few decades apart.
3. Saying Foo Fighters Are Better Than Nirvana is Like Saying Wings Were Better Than the Beatles.
I know, who would EVER say that? People have. Which is sad. But more importantly, it makes a bigger point. I have a very hard time thinking of any member of a great band moving on and doing anything equally as great afterward. I’m not talking about things like Van Morrison leaving Them or Beyonce leaving whatever the name of those girls were. I mean, artists that left truly “great” bands. I think the reason is that bands are made of a collection of different voices and abilities. Something which also means that the best ones are often filled with constant turmoil and tension. The Beatles, for example. How many creative geniuses can you keep in one band before they want to kill each other? But it was those clashes, that balancing of egos and ambitions that made the band the force they were. People that are members of great bands need that balance and restraint, no matter how much they might hate it. Without it, you get Wings. Or, in this case, Foo Fighters.
4. The Sex Pistols Are Overrated
Actually, you could just as easily make that Joy Division or Nirvana. I love all three of these bands. A lot. But the problem is they only put out one or two real albums (Ok, three if you want to get technical with me, regarding Nirvana). That’s hardly a body of work like the Stones, Beatles, Zeppelin, Radiohead, or dare I even say it in the same sentence, Foo Fighters. There is no denying that the Pistols, Joy Division and Nirvana had a massive impact on rock music. Absolutely brilliant stuff that would influence other musicians and blow the minds of listeners for generations. But is that enough? I mean, one or two albums compared to the mountain of landmark songs and albums the Beatles or Stones put out? I don’t know. What would have happened if they had kept making stuff for another ten or twenty years? Would it continue to be great? Break boundaries? Be something brilliant and new? Should any of that even matter? In my way of looking at “great,” yes, it does matter. Beethoven and Mozart aren’t remembered and relevant today because they wrote one or two great works. They wrote a ton of them. And how would we have all those “Stones Days” or “Beatles Mornings” on the radio if they only had twelve songs each? By the way, I have my own opinions about which of the three bands I named might have gone on to continue to shock the world with each and every new album. But, I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t the Sex Pistols.
So, there you have it. My own little foray into the world of High-Fidelity. Do you see the incredible knowledge and wisdom I’m trying to impart to you regarding the world of rock n’ roll? Probably not so much. But that’s not really the point. I could just as easily have talked about my favorite sports team, movie, or vote for best hamburger joint. In my case, I just find music more of a personal obsession than any of those. It’s not the subject chosen that really matters. And it’s certainly not the arrogant, often somewhat obnoxious, statement. It’s the back and forth. The banter and blather of meaningless opinions. The connection. Throw in a decent Pilsner, and maybe some fries, and you have the makings of a truly wonderful day. Now, let me get back to that thing I was saying about the Sex Pistols. The reason I said that was…