Friday, October 16, 2015

Though We Touched and Went Our Separate Ways

Anyone I meet, there are two bands where, if they don't like them, I can't really take them seriously, as humans.  Def Leppard and Journey.  If you don't like at least 1/3 of the songs produced by those two bands then you are, essentially, a bad person.  I'm sorry to be reductive, but there it is.

If I were dating some woman and they told me that they hated Journey? I don't know what I would do.  But clearly I couldn't be involved with that kind of anti-American criminal.  I just couldn't.

* * *

The two artists I'm listening to right now, almost exclusively, are The Jam and James McMurtry.  One is the quintessence of Britain.  The other, the quintessence of America.  How did that come to be?

* * *

An idea: KickStopper.  Where many people give money to PREVENT something from happening.  For example, Jonathan Franzen announces plans to write another novel.  Immediately, Kickstopper swings into action.  10 Million dollars are raised.  And Franzen desists.

We all win!

* * *

I've gotten to a point, with Birdman, where if I meet people who truly value it, artistically, I mentally check them off my list, of people I can spend time with.  They're just too stupid.

* * *

Been reading Greek Tragedy.  Also, rereading Barthelme's Flying To America, all his previously unpublished work.  Also, My Struggle, volume II.  Which deals so far exclusively with the burdens of raising small children.  It's not making me want to be a father.  No it is not.

* * *

Spent an entertaining weekend with my brother's family at Disneyland.  Lots of interesting interactions with my (five year old) niece.

Sample dialogue:
ME: asks why she has elected to dress as SpiderMan for Halloween, given that she's never seen a single SpiderMan movie, tv show, or cartoon
HER: He is really brave and I am really brave so I decided to be him.
ME: Well, ok.  Good answer.


Saxo Philologus said...

You are certainly correct about Def Leppard and Journey. Alternative, but related, argument: Def Leppard is objectively better than Guns & Roses. G&R have between 3-5 really good songs, but that's really about it.

Don't let that dyspeptic Swede convince you not to have children!

ANCIANT said...

He's actually Norwegian. Some of the best parts of the second volume, in fact, concern his discussions about the differences between Norwegians and Swedes. The languages, as you probably know, are sufficiently similar that you can speak Norwegian and be understood (more or less) in Sweden, but you obviously identify as Norwegian.

In the second volume, he's living in Stockholm, and half the time he speaks to people they make a big show of pointing out that he's using the wrong (i.e. Norwegian) word at key moments. Apparently Norwegians are thought of as sort of wild barbarians, to the Swedes. The writer, by contrast, views Stockholm as being filled with uptight, bien pendant bobo hippies. Sort of Marin county meets Brussels, or something.

I'd have to think about the GNR thing. I've never been a huge fan of GNR anyway, so I'd accept the argument without thought. But I'll think about it still.

Saw "Inside Me" on the plane, BTW. So so good! Now that DID make me want to have kids.

ANCIANT said...

That was supposed to be bien-pensant, obviously.

Dezmond said...

I accept your premise on Journey, certainly. But are you including the three pre-Steve Perry records where they tried to be a prog rock band and did it pretty badly? And also the post-Steve Perry records? Or when you say Journey, are you referring to only Steve Perry-era Journey? That may be important with your 1/3 criteria.

Def Leppard. Love "Photograph," "Rock of Ages." There are some others I like. But 1/3 of their output?

Dezmond said...

By the way, I also like James McMurtry. Although I find much of his material has a certain sameness to it, I really, really love the record 'Where'd You Hide the Body.' That is brilliant stuff.

I have been listening to King Crimson (still) and Los Lobos.

Dezmond said...

Los Lobos released a live version of the 'Kiko' album a couple of years back that I have been really digging.

Dezmond said...

Oh sh*t. I forgot to say that I've also been into Chris Whitley. I remember we all got into 'Living With the Law,' but have you ever checked out his later stuff? Go buy/download 'Hotel Vast Horizon' immediately. It is gorgeous melancholy, and the perfect record to fall into when you are alone at 3 a.m. One of those records. And then 180 degrees the other way is the experimental 'Rocket House' record. It is a real shame that he died, he was so, so good.

Dezmond said...

I am listening to 'Hotel Vast Horizon' right now, to make sure it is that good. It is. I demand you get it and then report back to me.

ANCIANT said...


I guess I really meant the Steve Perry journey. And, honestly, probably only the Def Leppard of "Pyromania", "High and Dry", and "Hysteria." With a focus on Pyromania. So, for both artists I should emend my comment: not 1/3 of their total material, but 1/3 of the material they play on the radio. Although in that case it should be 2/3.

Yes I have all of the Chris Whitley catalog. I love his work. I saw him live, actually, at a very small club in San Francisco.

The one he put out right after Living with the Law (which, you may know already, is a cult classic, loved by a lot of musicians) is also very very good--Guns and Dolls, I think?

You burned me that live Kiko.

James McMurtry's work does have a certain sameness, I guess, but so does Bruce Springsteen or CSN, and we (well, you) still like them, right? He has definitely found one row, and decided to hoe it exclusively, but he hoes that row better than anyone. But you maybe don't care as much about lyrics as I do? And that's one of his great strengths.

Check out his newer stuff. Or, better, get the "American Masters" collection. That has "Choctaw Bingo" on it, which you will love, as well as a lot of other great hits.

He's the best American songwriter of the last fifteen years, IMO.

Saxo Philologus said...

Inside Out really was good. I watched it on the plane, too, but didn't get to see the last fifteen minutes. I have never had such a visceral emotional reaction to a movie. Mindy Kaling and the actress from the Office who played Sadness were both terrific, but I think Amy Poehler may be wearing a little thin on me.

At its best (Estranged, Welcome to the Jungle, November Rain), GnR may surpass Def Leppard, but the latter are much more consistent. They have at least ten really good songs. I really can't abide CSN. Aside from Suite Judy Blue Eyes, I can't listen to any of their songs. Also, ZZ Top is just much better than you give them credit for, ANCIANT.

That was very interesting about Knausgaard. So do the books live up to the hype?

ANCIANT said...

ZZ Top? Really? Bleh. I don't really give them ANY credit, so I guess you're right.

I didn't really mention CSN b/c I'm some huge fan, I only meant to point out that an artist can do the same thing their whole career, more or less, and still be worth listening to (I was defending James McMurtry on that count). Neil Young, or the Rolling Stones--they're mostly made the same kind of music over and over, and plenty of people still find something there to listen to.

I love Amy Poehler, I don't find her wearing thin at all.

I can't believe you missed the last 15 minutes! That was where the funniest stuff was. The stuff they did during the credits--which I don't want to give away in case you watch it--was maybe the best part of the movie. Plus, they resolved it all well.

I'm only halfway through book two of the Knausgaard, so I can't issue any definitive pronouncements. I will say, though, that it isn't NOT living up to the hype, if that makes sense. I mean…I don't continually find myself thinking "what the hell did people see in this." It has a subtle strong appeal. You start reading and you can't put it down, even though most of what it's purportedly 'about' seems so incredibly banal.

How come you never talk about Anne of Brittany?

Saxo Philologus said...

Who is this Anne of Brittany person? Don't you mean Anne of Cleves? or Arthur of Brittany? You have to post about your trip to France.

I could not stop laughing at the Triple-Mint gum flashbacks in Inside Out. I really need to see the end of it.

Interesting sentence from Wikipedia: 'Burnley Miners' Club in Lancashire, United Kingdom is the world's biggest single consumer of Bénédictine liqueur.'

That is all.

ANCIANT said...

Kind of feel like you should have heard of Anne of Brittany. Intro graph in wikipedia piece: (

Anne of Brittany (Breton: Anna; 25 January 1477 – 9 January 1514[1]) was a French queen who reigned as Duchess of Brittany from 1488 until her death.

Upon her father's death in 1488, she became Sovereign Duchess of Brittany, Countess of Nantes, Montfort, and Richmond, and Viscountess of Limoges. After his death she became a central figure in the struggle for influence that led to the union of Brittany and France.

She is highly regarded in Brittany as a conscientious ruler who defended the Duchy.

ANCIANT said...

My take-away about Anne: it was her marriage that unified Brittany to the rest of France.

Brittany, by the way, is where I want our next trip to be. And it may be!

It means "land of the grapefruit growers" in old Dutch.