Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I know it's been a long time but I've been on vacation. Just back from the outer banks of North Carolina a few days ago, enjoyed a lazy weekend at home and now I'm back at work. Yick. THe beach was great, got to see much (though not all) of my family and that's always a good thing.

The business was still standing when I returned. That's always a good thing, though I understand there was some kind of plumbing related misshap while I was gone that resulted in poo being on the floor. I can't say that I'm sorry I missed that.

Read a good book about the band Wilco while lying on the beach. It was called "Learning How To Die" by Chicago music critic Greg Kot. It basically chronicles the demise of Uncle Tupelo and the history of Jeff Tweedy as he created records with the boys in Wilco. Good stuff assuming that you're interested in the "alt-country" history and Wilco in particular (a band that is definitely not alt-country). But some of the most interesting a salient points that I thought Kot made revolved around the nature of the music business and how it changed after the great consolidation (Time-Warner merger, etc.) of the labels in the mid to late 90's. Once a few enormous corporations held all the cards that idea of artist development quickly lost out to the need for an immediate return on the dollar. Labels that formerly were able to nurture talent and keep "prestige" acts that don't sell a ton of records on board were forced to part with bands they loved in order to maximize "hits" and 'units sold". As I read about the changing nature of corporate music and how Wilco was dropped after the recording of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" I was surrounded by the musicial machinations of my 14 year old nephew who proudly played displayed to me his "Yellowcard", "Lit", "Jet" CD's. Bands tailor made to have a hit or two and then fade quietly into the ether of our musical landscape. These bands are ready made and packaged to pump out hits (and sales) by catering to the lowest common denominator of the listening audience. These bands won't grow because even if they wanted to they would never be allowed to stray from formula. They will never challenge a listener much less themselves. Man, don't I sound old and bitter? It's just that I feel there's an entire generation being sold short by popular music. I had to convince my nephews that Blink 182 isn't punk rock, that punk rock stood for something that Blink 182 can barely hint at, that music with integrity is worth more than listening to what's cool because what's cool isn't. I don't really know why I'm ranting about this. I think it has to do with the value that I and my friends placed on the music that we listened to in high school. We believed the music we sought out and loved could change us and in fact did in many ways. I don't think "Yellowcard" is going to change anyone. I know it's a snobby attitude, but at least I understand why i'm snobby about it. There's just better "stuff" out there that will have lasting value, impact, importance over a life time. I have no intention of proof reading all this drivel so...

I've started playing tennis again. It's a lot of fun. I'd forgotten that I really like it. It's not basketball or anything but it's fun to hit the ball. I may even take a few lessons to really blow the dust off. I've been inspired by Maria Sharapova...no not that way.

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