Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Next Installment

Part 2 of what looks like it might shape up to be a pretty epic look at 90's music by Steve Hyden is up at the AV Club. This time taking a look at Axel Rose and Kurt Cobain. I really like the way he writes and I like his somewhat sympathetic portrait of Rose here. Or at least find it interesting. By this time, I, of course, was pretty heavily into drinking the Nirvana kool-aid in high school, but I think he takes a nice step back and does a really fair job of comparing and contrasting.

One especially interesting passage, actually the opening paragraph he sets up by talking about the trouble in writing about any historical time period. That the tendency is to always paint with a fairly large brush. I feel like we all do it in some way. I did it earlier today in talking about the sixties. He says, "The trickiest part of writing history is putting styles, trends, and social movements in proper perspective. Not everybody spent the ’60s making babies in the mud at Woodstock, or the ’70s doing blow with Bianca Jagger at Studio 54. We dwell on these things because they’re easily recognizable signifiers of their respective eras, but a lot gets overlooked when you use the easy shorthand of Nehru jackets and Bee Gees songs. The spectrum of experiences in any era is simply too wide; it makes me wonder whether the so-called “monoculture” ever really existed, where “everybody agreed on” what was good on the radio and the three TV networks. Maybe we’ve just gotten better about recognizing that even really popular things are irrelevant to significant portions of the population. A band as seemingly all-encompassing as The Beatles were in the ’60s probably didn’t mean much to a black teenager living in inner-city Detroit, a truck driver from rural Texas, or the millions of decent, hard-working, square-as-hell middle Americans who impatiently waited for those tuneless long-hairs to finish their songs on Ed Sullivan so the jugglers and impressionists could come on."

I like how he takes that closer look at the time period. And its also interesting to note, in any historical analysis, how anecdotes and rumor start to become the official story. 

Here's a question for my fellow writer, Matt, who also enjoys these bands and these sorts of exercises. (I am sure we have talked about this in person before) Say Gun 'N' Roses released Use Your Illusion as just a single album-which songs, from both albums-would you keep and put on that one single album?


1 comment:

  1. I just started reading these posts too. They're so great and are an amazing look at music in the 90's.

    And thanks for derailing me. I've been doing nothing but thinking of Guns 'N Roses since reading your post.