“I’m Gen X — I just sit on the sidelines and watch the world burn.” — Kenan Thompson (SNL skit)
With some bands, music reviewers’ consensus becomes so confused that it reads less as a critique, more as an ode to the asshole you hate yourself for loving.
We’re not talking mere mixed reviews. We’re talking about the useless gray truce you eventually get after yin and yang have violently disagreed— “useless” being the optimal word. Because at this point, the critical contingent’s no longer shedding light on the band, not even if confusion seems to be a congenital part of the band’s whole thing, as a person might argue it does with those over-the-top, ridiculous, cocksure, wretched, vampiric, undeniably talentednew gods known as Greta Van Fleet.
But then, critics’ say has historically meant little where it’s concerned those bands that struck the public like lightning: because with those bands — who cause the brightest flash and rumblin’est thunder — you can’t talk about them without talking about us.
If you have an account on Medium, please check out my essay “Internet Cures for Psychosis,” available through the publication Invisible Illness. A preview follows.
“I have schizoaffective disorder. As with most psychological conditions, its composition varies by the individual, but in my case, it means bipolar symptoms (light) tied in grim matrimony to schizophrenic symptoms (much heavier). Because I spent a long time wary of medication and one of the first I did take wreaked its own havoc, it was with no casual interest that I read up on theories of symptom reduction — and out-and-out cures. I found what people with nearly any condition find when probing the digitized encyclopedia of human knowledge: (1) Eeeverybody’s a doctor. (2) It’s dangerous trying to fill the conflicting prescriptions of Drs. Internet.”
At eleven, my daughter has spent the past several years listening mostly to pop while landing somewhere between pale interest and monkish patience where it came to my classic rock. Don’t get me wrong. She’s always giggled at the Pink Floyd song with the timeless “do goody good bullshit” lyric. And smiled at how the Eagles’ lyric about riding up and down the highway, not seeing a goddamn thing, frequently lulls the devils of radio censorship into such a stupor they can’t do their dirty work. To her, though, classic rock sans the cussin’ has been a cupcake without frosting — just a motherfucking muffin.
Long ago I decided not to be that jerkface pushing my auditory agenda. Whatever her music of choice, no soapboxing about you kidses noise today. Having spent the last decade or so steeping in sounds of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, I could be at least a little objective about the past: some songs were great, others were fine-ish, others were the non-Disney Happy Meal toys of music — cheap plastic pleasure — from the kidses of yesterday. And moreover, what business was it of mine. The “respect their autonomy” credo inherited by this generation of parents isn’t a bad one as generational gospel truths go. Don’t push him into sports. Let her do what she wants with her hair. Don’t garden their playlists while they sleep.
I lay this groundwork before talking about the Foo Fighters’ Concrete and Gold album for two reasons. To establish
that the alluded-to musical eras I have loitered in were long. Looong. It’s taken me the better part of one decade to properly anthologize — and, to an extent, eulogize — three other decades. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s been only recently that I’ve gotten around to the few, the proud, the people committing rock and roll now. Forgive me, Fighters of Foo.
that I’d assumed all my classic rock, even at its most David-Gilmour-led-Pink-Floyd pastoral, was too hard or structurally unfamiliar for my daughter’s taste, so (not that it mattered . . .) I shouldn’t expect us to often be on the same page musically.