Rock and roll is wonderful... David Gasten (@davidgastenvintage), a music pro and vintage music enthusiast I met through minds.com and who has become a friend, has requested that I do a write-up of the song "I Wrote a Book about Rock and Roll," and he even sent a "tip" in the form of tokens (that's how minds works, a token economy, flowing through "wires".) Well, as that's very kind of him to be interested, and as I haven't "done" this one before, I decided to take him up on it and do it as a Song for Odin. So, let's begin. This live solo video is from that "secret" show in Bergamo, Italy from which I posted "I Don't Need You Now" a couple weeks back. https://youtu.be/I4FHrxVecAw This song is one of the most straight-forward ones I've written, but it may bear some explanation because -- well, if you'll recall, one sub-theme of this "series" has been songs with obsolete or dead references and what it takes to make them work when the punchlines no longer land as resoundingly as they once may have done. ("Alternative Is Here to Stay," "Hello Kitty Menendez," "Ask Beth," are a few recent examples.) And it occurs to me that "I Wrote a Book about Rock and Roll" arguably falls in that category too, a bit. Because there once was a time, not all that long ago, when quite a lot of people actually had paid jobs as music critics, and every town had one or more regular rock writers, from national magazines, to the local newspaper, to various independent alternative publications as well. I repeat: they used to pay these people actual money to do this writing. (Newspapers were these floppy things made of folded up sheets of printed paper that your phone has largely replaced. They used to pay people money to write articles in them, which you now get for free, except they're not as good -- which is not rocket science, I suppose.) In addition, people used to buy music on discs instead of getting it for free on their phones. These discs and the music on them had actual cash value, when sold by musicians and their labels, and resale value when re-sold by the writers to whom they were given as promotional item in hopes of getting coverage. People used to have big collections of these "CDs" and were often quite proud of them, displaying them in their homes in special, dedicated cubby hole shelving units you could buy at discount furniture stores. Local bands and these music writers often came into conflict because they (or rather we, the bands) wanted them (the writers) to write about us and our records, while they... did not want to write about us and our records. There was a built-in adversarial relationship, though in retrospect it can be seen that both camps had basically the same objective, which was to use each other (or not as the case may be) to get noticed and remunerated by the wider world. Moreover, a lot of these music writers tended to be rather arrogant, silly, and pretentious. The scenario was ripe for satire. And while I certainly wasn't the first or only guy to write a satirical treatment of the subject, I'm not aware of any other that did it from this angle, as a first-person narrative a la "Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man." (But speaking of which, why wasn't my song on this list? https://music.avclub.com/praise-then-crucify-25-anti-music-journalist-songs-1798220969. Get it together AV Club, or I may be tempted to taunt you a second time.) This song was meant as a general lampoon of pretentious arrogant rock critics everywhere. It was a noticeable, well-known and well-ridiculed type, nation-wide. But anyone from the Bay Area would have had no trouble identifying the local variant of this national species. "Crappy local bands" was something like her signature slogan; she would do things like beginning a column about how cute Paul Westerberg was with sentences like "I'm beginning to think Schopenhauer was right..." Like I said, ripe for satire, though I concede, and the song implicitly acknowledges, that in the bigger picture such complaints were and are just as silly. And now, of course, no one gets paid at all, for anything, by anyone, so it's basically moot. Rock critics may be just as pretentious, but they tend to be more humble these days, as they must, like the local bands they once might have trashed or ignored. We're all in the same boat, with equally dubious claims to justification for our existence. When the Alcatraz album, on which this song was the lead-off track, was released, and we sent the usual round of promo copies to journalists, the Lookout Records publicist and I imagined we'd get finally get some sort of response from the critics who had scrupulously ignored us and our ilk for all those years. It was a song about them after all. I was actually bracing for some blowback, naif that I was. When that didn't happen, we emailed the lyrics to the song, hoping to provoke a reaction. The result was a barrage of requests for another promo from all the writers who, presumably, had already sold their copies without bothering to listen to them. Ah, irony. Or rather, not irony. Rather, the pure one-to-one correspondence between a purported satire and actual human behavior, which I think is slightly different. There's probably a Greek word for that, but I don't know it. It's all water under the bridge now, and it's still a good song that I flatter myself to think still holds up twenty years later despite its being situated in a largely vanished world. We grumbled about it a lot at the time, but that world (of music being worth more than zero and people getting paid for art and writing about art) was in some respects a better world than what we've got now, despite everything being "free." Or so I would maintain. David, I'm not sure if that was what you were looking for (and if not, I'll gladly refund your tokens, just let me know.) Anyway, here's the studio recording: https://youtu.be/Qqv6n1xNTE8 Share, like, comment, subscribe, etc. We here at Song for Odin love you all, and we're looking forward to seeing you next week, should it arrive. notes: -- the "I Don't Need You Now" write-up with the background about that Bergamo show -- discogs: https://www.discogs.com/The-Mr-T-Experience-Alcatraz/master/285326 --"Ask Beth": https://www.minds.com/newsfeed/968922654153035776?referrer=frankportman -- "Hello Kitty Menendez": https://www.minds.com/newsfeed/1028696190375051264?referrer=frankportman -- "Alternative Is Here to Stay": https://www.minds.com/newsfeed/980491309329526784?referrer=frankportman -- minds.com referal link: https://www.minds.com/register?referrer=frankportman #music #video #songs #mtxforever #minds
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