Monday, August 18, 2014
3-D Like Me: Introduction
Frederich Nietzsche had his flaws; he once opined that women were "at best cows," for example. However, he also once famously stated that "Without music, life would be a mistake." So perhaps I shouldn't be judge so harshly, hmm?
Even as I toil away at fiction and poetry, prepping projects for publication, I always seem to return to writing about that great justifier. Despite the range of my tastes, it's undeniable that I've written more about one band in particular than any other. As I unreservedly refer to Sonic Youth as my favorite-ever racket-gang, this is not surprising. Nor is it the slight some anonymous fingers intend it to be when they comment on my allegedly narrow focus.
Sonic Youth never went gold in their home country, but for a goodly number of us, they were the band that mattered most. (To call them The Only Band That Mattered would not only cheese off Clash fans, it would run counter to the implicit lesson to be gleaned from SY's oft-challenging output: art is knowledge is power is life is good so take in and take again, as much as you can.)
That ain't pithy, but it's every inch the truth.
The decision to write about six select recordings released by the group's three vocalists, dating from both before and after their "hiatus" was announced in late 2011, was not I reached haphazardly. I wanted to avoid indulgence, meaning no syrupy sentences of hopeless devotion wherein I all but called for the sainthood of each individual member and no tawdry speculation re: the rather sad circumstances leading to the group's dissolution.
As it transpired, I encountered zero difficulties in achieving this aim. Why, you will discover as you read.
Don't misunderstand, I enjoy tales of rock 'n' roll debauchery as much as the next painfully shy person. A story concerning a morally rudderless millionaire musician who sniffed drugs off a strippers tits...while banging her in the style of some animal...atop a private jet flying thousands of miles in the air? Golden. (Also impossible, but I wouldn't doubt the guys in Led Zeppelin asked Peter Grant how plausible such a scenario was.) The willful destruction of lavish property? Let's go. That sounds fun, that sounds crazy, that sounds like no one I ever knew did anything like that nutso ever. My dad got super drunk one night and took half a bushel of soft-shell crabs out to our patio, where he proceeded to eat clean every damn one, including the spongy gills of the animal (colloquially known as "dead man") located under the shell and over the meat. As you may suspect if you don't already know, consuming the gills of the crab is advised against, for eating them in great quantities--like, say, half a bushel's worth--will make one very very ill. And also subject to being locked out of their own home because their spouse doesn't want them vomiting all over the nice things.
And that's a funny li'l story, but it's not exactly on par with sticking seafood up a well-worn snatch, now is it?
Sonic Youth, if they ever had such salacious moments, did a good job of keeping them under wraps. They came to a screeching halt not because of something absurd, but because of something distressingly commonplace. A bog-standard ending is not what I wanted for or expected from a group of amazingly-gifted folks whose sustained excellence (and influence) over three decades defied the expectation of what a rock band was supposed to be.
Still, defiance can curse as well as it can bless.