Various and Sundry: Musical Myth-Busting

First, a little housework. I promise that not every article will reference my newborn, but this post will. He was born a little over a week-and-a-half ago and was in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care) for 10 days. As I’m writing this (on Saturday), he’s been home for just over 12 hours. I’m running on about 1.5 hours sleep. But he’s doing good and we are happy to have him home. Finally.

Because of the unplanned post-birth scenario, I have done little music-related anything in the last two weeks. In the numerous trips back-and-forth from the hospital, I did spent some time thinking about what to write about for this column. I mulled over several ideas but there was one I kept coming back to:

My personal music myth-busting.

There is a point-and-time in all our lives where we lie. A lot. We lie about all sorts of things, mainly to impress a boy or girl or to seem cool to others.

This happens all the time when it comes to music. I’m guilty of it. You probably are, too.

For the first time in years, I’m going to tell the truth about some artists that I’ve degraded to friends, colleagues, strangers and anyone else who I was trying to impress with my musical elitism. Whether it is cool or not, here is how I really feel about some acts that I’ve never wanted to admit I’ve liked … until now.

Tom Petty

He’s a big player in the history of Rock. His career has spread across five decades yet his profile always been a little under the radar (in relative terms). It may have never been a big deal to bash him, but he wouldn’t win you cool points from most musical snobs last decade.

That being said, I can’t think of a Petty song that I haven’t either liked or loved. And the video for “Free Falling” is amazing, as much for the awesomely time-stamped skater girl as the song itself.

Tom Petty – “Free Falling”

John Cougar

When John Mellencamp was still just John Cougar, he was pretty awesome. “Hurt So Good” is a classic and don’t try to argue with me otherwise. You won’t win. Factor in “Jack and Diane”, “Pink Houses” and “I Need A Lover”? As good as a double-meat, double cheese with a vanilla shake.

After he “matured” and changed names (for the third time, to John Mellencamp), his music mostly sucked. That’s the truth. But before that … he was the poster boy for Midwest rock at its mainstream best.

John Cougar – “Hurt So Good”

Pearl Jam

The band formerly known as Mookie Blaylock (or as the Hawks’ announcers used to say when he played for them back in the day Ma-ma-ma-Mooooookie) was the biggest thing going for several years in the 1990’s. Looking through the rear-view mirror (no pun intended) people tend to focus on Nirvana as biggest and best Seattle band. But for several years pre-post-Cobain, it was Pearl Jam.

I’m not here to discuss which band had more musical impact, but I am here to stand up and say, “Yes, I like Pearl Jam. Their first three albums were fucking great. And Vitology, may have been the best of the three.”

And about Eddie Vedder, yes, I like his voice. Even his ironic facial ticks. And yes, like frat boys all over the world, I love “Yellow Ledbetter”. (No, I wasn’t a frat boy.)

Pearl Jam – “Yellow Ledbetter (live)”

Foo Fighters

I think the Beatles are the most overrated band in the history of music. I also think that Dave Grohl is infinitely more talented that Kurt Cobain.

Both of those statement lead to passionate rebuttals that are just short of death-threats. You have your opinion, I have mine.

As for Foo Fighters, I only own one album, their debut “Foo Fighters”. For the last 16 years, they have done one thing as well as any band of their generation: made music on their terms and – to be a cliche – they have rocked.

If you go back and watch and listen to Nirvana – especially live- you’ll notice that Grohl was what made them so good. Yes, Cobain has the whole “I died early to become a rock god” thing going on. But in the years that followed, Grohl has proved to be an authentic, talented and energetic rock front-man at a time when it was seemingly uncool to do so.

It didn’t hurt that for a while they made some of the most entertaining videos in rock.

Foo Fighters – “Everlong”

’90’s One-hit Alt. Rock Wonders

Once every could of weeks I listen to Alt. Nation just to hear some horribly bad one-hit wonders from the ’90’s and sing along loudly (and out of key) to the worst the decade had to offer. Cool For August? Yup. Four Non Blondes? Uh-huh. Third Eye Blind? Sure. New Radicals? Indeed. Eve 6? Also a yes.

Even Jimmy Ray’s “Are You Jimmy Ray”? Yes, even Jimmy Ray.

And don’t try to deny that you secretly love the Chemical Brothers mix of Hanson’s “MmmBop”, too.

Eve 6 – “Inside Out”

I’m sure there are a few of you who many never trust anything you read by me again. So as a little bonus, here are a couple of acts who I am now also openly admitting my dislike for …

Modest Mouse

I don’t like Modest Mouse. I don’t hate them. I just don’t like them. Since XMU started playing them again the last couple of months, the dislike solidified. I can’t put my finger on it beyond the fact that their sound is repetitive and one that doesn’t appeal to me.

I do like “Float On” … but then again, everyone did back in 2004.

Modest Mouse – “Float On”

Arctic Monkeys

I tried to like The Streets. I tried to like Arctic Monkeys. I had the same reaction to both … want to, feel like I needed to when they both hit, but just couldn’t. Not my bag of chips.

Arctic Monkeys – “Brick by Brick”

Sometimes its easier to hide behind your earphones than admit to your own musical taste. That’s too bad because being in fear of the musical myth of coolness is no way to live.

So go ahead … take a deep breath and let the world know the artists you’ve been hiding from plain view all these years. It’s okay. You’re among friends.

2 comments for “Various and Sundry: Musical Myth-Busting

  1. March 22, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    Agree with every word on Tom Petty. Full Moon Fever is almost perfect all the way through. I listened to it a lot from 1989 to 1991.

    I never dug John whatever his name was/is. I liked his work with Lisa Germano on stuff like Paper in Fire. I like The Authority Song. Mostly, his stuff blows. He’s also a major prick.

    Eve6 is fine but Harvey danger’s Flagpole Sitta is on my IPOD and I love every word….the voices inside my head i swear they’re snoring…awesome

    I love Peark Jam first 3 records…then they sucked so bad for 10 years I dropped them from my musical memory…then Eddie Vedder started doing intesresting solo work. I remembered how much I liked the concert they did at the Fox in April of 1994 that I saw. Then Backspacer came out. Now, I am a full fledged Pearl Jam fan.

    One of my musical heroes, Johnny Marr played guitar Modest Mouse. I like them because of that. I like every note of The Arctic Monkeys music. Great band.

  2. March 28, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    I’m right with you on most of this, though I’ve never really liked the Foo Fighters all that much.

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