Sunday, November 3, 2013

A final note on the dead hand of musical history

Having tried and given up compiling my own top 20 albums of all time, never mind my own top 500 (see my comments on the NME's efforts), I find myself confirmed in my view that the problem lies less with the critics and more in the notion of a musical canon.

If I was to write a list of my favourite acts right now, for example, it would read a little like this - some rock classics, sure, but far from just the usual suspects.

Deep breath: Scritti Politti, Altaar, Talking Heads, Ulver, The Velvet Underground, Wolves In the Throne Room, Lambchop, Hercules & Love Affair, Husker Du, Gram Parsons, Negativland, Alcest, Om, Elbow, Earth, James Blake.

Yet the minute I start thinking about the best albums evah, I'm drawn back to including things I haven't listened to for years, cassettes which gave up the ghost  years ago and which I haven't replaced.

It's not that those old tapes of Revolver, The Smiths or Protection didn't contain good albums, very probably great ones. The problem is being pulled too strongly towards them not by your own personal inclination, but by the wisdom of crowds, by the gravity of conferred status, by mythology and reputation. The older the music, the greater the reputation.

So how about this experiment in closing: what if we played, wrote, thought, loved music as if there was no canon at all? No pantheon but each with their own passions and influences? 

For today, for ad bloody astra?

No comments:

Post a Comment