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Stubs of ideas, some of which may turn into future posts:

(1a) A punk votes for a punk (Johnny Rotten says nice things about Trump). Okay, he's not necessarily saying that he did vote for Trump, though from what he said it's a good assumption he did; but anyway, my armchair psychosocial analysis of the Trump win already had been "Punks voted for a punk," my using the word punks in a sorta pre-punk-rock sense, meaning people who compensate for subconsciously feeling weak by scapegoating and bullying and hurting the vulnerable; but such "punks" can include normally nice people too, people who let the punk aspect of themselves do their electoral thinking.

(1b) Only "sorta pre-punk-rock" given that original garage-rock punks such as ? And The Mysterians and the Syndicate Of Sound and the Seeds were indeed punks in the old sense, weak bully-type punks (and sexists as well),† but most of the great punk rockers — I'd start "punk rock" w/ Stones and Dylan, actually, with the caveat that the true punks, the garage rockers, weren't Stones and Dylan but the garage kids who'd dumbed Stones, Dylan, and Yardbirds down into punk, which'd be a fine explanation except that no one limits "punk rock" this way; most critics etc. would also include the Velvet Underground and MC5 and Stooges and Patti Smith and Richard Hell and Rocket From The Tombs and even more would include Ramones and Sex Pistols and the Clash and the Heartbreakers and X-Ray Spex and Black Flag and Nirvana and Hole, generally self-aware nonbully types, and if you're going to do this you've got to go back and count Dylan and the Stones — ...anyway, most of the great punk rockers (as generally defined) were about punk way more than they were punk; nonetheless, being self-aware, they drew the connection between actual inner true punk impulses and the punk rock they were playing, understanding their own weakness and that bullying and scapegoating were in there lurking, sitting dangerously inside. But anyway, of all the great punk rockers, the Sex Pistols, who were maybe the greatest ("They make everyone else sound sick by comparison," said my friend Bill Routt), were the ones who were true nasty punks as much as they were about punk. They were the band that made punk safe for fag-bashers (fortunately only somewhat safe).* None of which explains why Johnny Rotten would shit his brains down the toilet and support Trump (apparently, Johnny can't tell a racist from a hole in the ground). If you want to turn to social affinity and group identification as an explanation, Johnny's loyalty is to real punks, not to punk rock. (Yes, there's no way to come up with a unitary reading of the word "punk" in this paragraph. It'd be a stupider paragraph if you could.) I doubt that many self-identified "punks" — those who embrace the music as part of their social identity — voted for Trump. These people veer left instead. If you go by social category, Trump got many of the rocks and hoods and greasers and grits and burnouts — at least, more than he should have — but few of the punks. (Among whites he got a significant amount of the jocks and middle managers, too, and their psyches are probably as much punk as the hoods' are, but that's not relevant to Johnny Rotten's social identification.) I doubt that many Trump voters had ever bothered to listen to punk rock (not counting the garage hits they heard way back); if they had, the aboutness would've stung them, and they'd have been repelled. Nonetheless, I think I can understand that what makes the Sex Pistols sound true and real to me, the screaming squalling blind attempt to stand against anything acceptable and settled that can get you by, is what makes a lying hollow pathological bully like Trump sound transgressive and therefore real and true and honest and substantial to a lot of his fans.

(1c) Of course Trump doesn't win if he gets only the punks. And my armchair analysis isn't based on any actual research of mine into "the Trump voter." As I said two sentences ago, there's more than one type of Trump voter, and individual voters are multi-faceted in their urges and ideas anyway (so a particular Trump voter can be more than one type). I'm actually doing two questionable things: (i) reading the characteristics of the voter off of the characteristics of what they voted for, rather than actually asking the voters who they are and why they like what they like; (ii) using a psychological model that can apply to an individual person to explain the behavior of a group of people (the punk types who voted for that punk Trump), as if the group were an individual writ large. Obviously I think the analysis kinda sorta works, or I wouldn't have made it. It's a strong hypothesis, punks voted for a punk, strong in my mind anyway, though maybe someone more knowledgeable could beat it down with an alternative. ("Strong" analysis? Seriously? How so? It tells you what most of you already know: (1) that I don't like Trump, (2) that I think many of his voters voted for a lot of what I don't like about him, even if they don't understand the policy implications, and (3) that he's a punk. You already knew that. He's a punk. It's maybe a correct analysis, but not strong, since it doesn't tell you anything you don't already know. Maybe it makes you think harder about punk rock, and what I write below maybe'll help you think harder about social class.)

(1di) Trump got more working-class whites than he was expected to )

(1dii) The terms hoods, greasers, grits, and burnouts as stand-ins for current social identities )

(1diii) The class systems in people's immediate experience are not an exact match for the upper-middle-working class grid )

(1div) They voted against Clinton because she's a student-council type )

(1dv) Kids who bombed out of the classroom still hurt by it )

(1e) Middle class divided )

(1f) Want to hurt people and feel good about hurting them )

(2) The failure of education )

(3a) Duncan Watts criticizes idea of 'representative agent' )

(3b) How would we measure 'punks voted for a punk'? )

(4) The principle of the inferred et cetera )

(5) Top 100 singles of 2016 )

(6) A punk votes for a brat )

(7) Etc. )
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In 1987 I tossed an insult at a loose aggregation of people that included me, calling us "PBS for the youth." Basically, I was fingering the punk/postpunk indie-alternative "underground," but also worlds and hairstyles and rampages that surrounded it: rock critics, letters-to-the-editor, on-edge heroin poetry zines, the appreciation and appreciators of American eccentrics and outsiders and outsider art, pop detritus, etc. A music marginal intelligentsia. My insult turned out complicated, since having some PBS impulses was better than having none, I decided, and the process of PBSification had grown out of what had initially seemed like untrammeled strength and was embedded in seed form in the most disruptive music of the 1960s; I cited the Rolling Stones in particular:

Richard Meltzer was right: Rock 'n' roll collapsed the distinction between awesome and trivial. Overall, rock 'n' roll could not have been great had it been merely awesome. I say "overall" because, when it comes down to the sound of specific bands, I prefer the awesome-awesome to the awesome-trivial. I prefer the Rolling Stones to Elvis. Meltzer tried to portray the Stones and Dylan at their 1965 peaks as trivial and silly (not to mention awesome and serious), just like the rest of rock 'n' roll. Meltzer was wrong, the Stones and Dylan were simply awesome — but I understand why he portrayed them in the way he did. He was trying to save them. Triviality protects awesomeness. The Rolling Stones, even more than the Beatles, saved white rock from being Bobby Rydell/Las Vegas shit but put it irrevocably, despite all their intentions, on the PBS path. By being merely awesome, the Stones laid the seeds for the destruction of rock 'n' roll. PBS can co-opt mere awesomeness. They can turn it into "seriousness" and oppose it to "fun." The Sex Pistols (who were the Rolling Stones reincarnated thirteen years later, and that's all they were) were a lot closer to PBS than to Elvis. The were better than Elvis, too — the awesome, sociofuckological aspects that made them closer to PBS helped make them better. But, though they saved punk for a couple years, they made punk socially significant hence digestible by PBS. (So do I, by the way — though I’m not great like the Sex Pistols or important.*)

I'm being a bit loose with the term "PBS." I mean a certain PBS head (attitude), which can include a cult taste for shitty horror movies, pro wrestling, African pop, comic books, Hasil Adkins... all this pseudofun is a covering for a mind set that's ruled by PBS. We're making horror movies safe for PBS. We have met PBS, and it is us. I mean an imaginary PBS of the future, with pro wrestling, splatter films, and leftist analyses of the Capitalist Entertainment Industry (scored by a reformed Gang of 4). All rendered lame in the context of our appreciation.
--Frank Kogan, Why Music Sucks #1, February 1987.

I don't consider this the most intelligible passage I've ever written. It was part of a long, unruly essay, in a long, unruly fanzine. For a clue as to what I thought I originally meant, here's a Cliff Notes version I wrote 20 years later for the Las Vegas Weekly (including, for non-Americans, a description of the actual PBS):

The Rules Of The Game No. 24: The PBSification Of Rock

I wouldn't say the LVW version really delivers: missing are the tumult and anguish of the original Why Music Sucks essays, the social life and the social detail, as well as the multiple twists and back-and-forth of my own thinking;** but it does clarify several points, as well as throwing a couple of pointed questions at me at the end.

Anyway, last month, in response to my quarterly list of top singles, Dave in passing referred to my PBS metaphor, which prompted a longer conversation in which I let loose with a bunch of reassessments and qualifications that I've thought of over the years. And lots of twists and back-and-forth. I'm reposting our convo here. This isn't the "PBS Revisited" essay I ought to write someday (I make reference to a 32-page email I sent Dave and Mark where I wrestle an issue I barely touch here), esp. given that what I value most in this interchange are the Elsa and Anna analyses; but it does give some indication as to where such a reconsideration might go. As I say, the PBS metaphor is never not going to be half-assed, and I'm never not going to feel it's essential. Dave = David Cooper Moore.

Kendrick and PBS on the cultural corner, with gentrification )

Elsa and Anna go for broke )

PBS wrap-up )

Footnotes )
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Missed most of February (and most of everything else). Ash-B is the great discovery here, a strong and throaty rapper like Choi Sam but with a tone that's more supple and subtle. Will say more when I post my 2014 albums list. "The Song Of Love" is a low-rent slow dance from Core Contents Media (yeah, it's not Core Contents Media anymore, but in my dark heart it always will be). "Yumeno Ukiyoni Saitemina" scrunches together two acts I never really got and it's catchy. Azin's the sort of respectable-type well-controlled quality singer I always intend to be indifferent towards except every year there's another one who gets to me. I can't tell if Rihanna's goofing. I'd have called it "Bitch Betta Have My Ice Cream." Red Velvet take the cake. Christine and the Queens sing "Christine." ZZBEst kinda go soul horny in the early evening. Lizzy trots. GFriend are trying to sound like early SNSD and kinda do. They don't dance remotely as well, unfortunately. Jason Aldean does rote party roteness with good guitars. J'sais pas, I dunno.

Looking forward to Crayon Pop, Miss A, Blady, Exo. What'd I miss?

1. Ash-B "매일"
2. The Seeya "The Song Of Love"
3. Momoiro Clover Z vs KISS "Yumeno Ukiyoni Saitemina"
4. Azin "Delete"
5. Rihanna "Bitch Better Have My Money"
6. Red Velvet "Ice Cream Cake"
7. Christine and the Queens "Christine"
8. ZZBEst "랄랄라"
9. Lizzy "Not An Easy Girl"
10. GFriend "Glass Bead"
11. Jason Aldean "Just Gettin' Started"
12. Brigitte "J'sais pas"

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Scott at rockcritics.com links some of the commentary that's followed Lou's death:


At the Jukebox we blurb a number of Velvet and Lou songs:


I make the case for the oft-derided Sally Can't Dance. Regarding my closing sentence: I was thinking of giving The Blue Mask a relisten but felt that, since I was basically looking to compare it invidiously to Sally, I wasn't really going to be listening with good ears.

Waitin' for a better day to hear what Blue's got to say.

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Someone had dibs on "Heroin" but didn't make it. If anyone had paid me to write a proper memorial I'd have given prominence to a basic screaming fact that all the memorials and obits have managed to avoid and evade or not even notice, which is that the Velvets, like Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel who were already doing it* (and it was in the Stones and Airplane and a whole bunch of others then and now, really is all over modern culture), were — however ambivalently — promulgating the idea of dysfunction and self-destruction as a form of social protest against a contaminated and compromised world that had contaminated and compromised the self. A refusal, a denial. Being fucked and making an issue of it as a semi-social-marker, part of a sort of an identity politics of freaks and punks and bohos and ilk. The intersection of social class and conspicuous self-destruction.

Of course, you can like the music without this stuff being a big deal to you. But I doubt that so many people would have liked the songs so much if it hadn't, at least subliminally, been a big deal for a lot of them.

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*Not that the idea is new. Presumably goes back at least to Germany in the mid 1700s. See "Romanticism, Age Of." I know almost nothing about Gothic novels of the time, but later on it was in Byron and Stendhal and later still all over Hemingway and Faulkner (when I was rereading Absalom, Absalom! for college I'd put "Sister Ray" on in the background). But I don't know how much it makes it into popular song until the 1960s. Is kinda there as potential in the Delta blues of people like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.
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Just came across J-Tong's Mohican And The Barefoot from last October: hip-hop but with rhythms that are hard rock more than they're R&B.* I like the album version of "개판" ft. Nobrain far more than the one from two years ago that gets streamed online, so here's a raw live clip of what I assume is the newer, better version:

Question: Is there a lot of this rap-rock stuff in Korea, or is J-Tong the main guy?

*Of course, the people who invented hard rock in the '60s, the Stones and the Yardbirds most prominently, were saturated in R&B. That late '60s and early '70s groups like the MC5 and the Stooges were also saturated in R&B helped them to rock harder than most of their contemporaries. As did Miles Davis in the '70s, running together rock and funk and R&B and that other genre he's associated with (not to mention Sly, Isaac Hayes, Kool & The Gang, and a host of others). So I'm not saying that R&B and hard rock are opposites. But nowadays what's called rock and what's called R&B are pretty distant from one another (in genres like country the rock and the R&B do sometimes meld together, but they're rarely called rock and R&B); the broad area designated "hip-hop" is one place where rock and R&B do occasionally, explicitly rub shoulders.

Anyway, I've been arguing that over the last quarter century techno and acid house and rave more than rock have been playing the social role that rock once played.
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A couple of posts last month by Sabina that I bookmarked and am only returning to now, hoping that she'll return to them as well:

Here's a thought, by the way

One effect of growing up with parents who didn't get rock

The question that leaps into my mind is why haven't Sabina's immigrant parents taken to rock? As she says, "access" isn't the only issue. Words like "generation" and "culture" don't work as explanations here: they're the very concepts that need explaining. Of course, I don't have a good explanation for why my (nonimmigrant) parents didn't take to rock (they being a generation older than Sabina's), and why most of their friends didn't either.

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The Yardbirds, 1965

Did people such as Sabina's parents, in that first post-Mao generation, read, say, Hamlet, and Faulkner? I wouldn't be surprised if they did. I ask because I remember fantasizing making a film about a high school drama club, 1968, the real lives of the students as they were confronting everything from the specter of the draft to their own confused and fraught love lives; meanwhile, they're acting in a production of Hamlet, from which we see scenes. This fantasy didn't develop much further, except that the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" plays near the start (the need for action but no idea what to do), and "Paint It, Black" a little later on, as the various protagonists in the play and in life refuse to reconcile.

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The Rolling Stones, 1966

These are a couple of the many ways into hard rock )

What about Italodisco? )
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What's going on with Rainbow's "concept"? And how do "concepts" work in general in K-pop? Even though performers do sometimes change 'em like costumes, that doesn't necessarily mean those very performers aren't committed in some deeper way to what the concepts mean. Or at least it doesn't mean that they're not committed in the audience's eyes, or that we don't hold them accountable on the basis of our (or someone's) sense of what they're doing with the concepts and who they appear to be behind the concepts.

I find Rainbow's switch from "the sexy dominatrix image"* of "A," "Mach," and "To Me" to the new one on "Tell Me Tell Me," whatever it is (cheery and serene and bright but at a half-knowing half distance?), jarring:

Music seems to be included in the concept of "concept." As it should be. Except the music on "Tell Me Tell Me" is meh compared to what Rainbow were doing a couple of years ago in "A" etc.

I don't believe that in Korea or America there's a split between authenticity and artifice; the two concepts aren't opposites )
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Korean girl group Sistar begin their latest single with this arresting couplet:

"I don't wanna cry
Destroy my eyes."

At least that's how a few people heard it on the Jukebox. Great line, even if it's not what Hyorin was actually saying.

Here's the vid, if you'd like to mishear for yourself.

(We also talked about "Alone" on a "Volume Up" thread.)
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While searching YouTube fruitlessly for some 2NE1/Big Bang couples action, I came across this live sitting-on-the-floor knockoff of the inferior reggae version of "I Don't Care," with G-Dragon writing, on the spot, a brilliantly half-assed, hilariously ineffective self-justification of the male attitude.

Unfortunately the dude who uploaded that vid compressed its width. Here's the same segment, with the correct ratio but without the Eng Sub:

Read a lyrics translation of "Tonight" that made fear and misogyny seem casually rampant in it, in an interestingly conflicted way — the lyrics don't want to commit to the romance that suffuses the sound, with pain equally suffusing the sound — and I've been afraid to look further, at alternate translations, to confirm my theory that when T.O.P. romantically says "Good night" at the end he's really kicking her out of bed.
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For the many people* who ask me "Why Korea?" my answer is love. Yes, and there are plenty of other answers too, one being that people who know more than I do come to my lj and talk to me about K-pop, providing sociability and mindwork, and another being that K-pop is creating a hip-hop, r&b, dance-pop amalgam far better than the Billboard Hot 100's, and so on and so forth. But there's always got to be love. With rock there was Jagger**, with glitter the Dolls, with punk the Stooges, with disco Donna, with hip-hop Spoonie Gee, with freestyle Debbie Deb (both the real Debbie Deb and the imposter), with hair-metal Axl, with teenpop Ashlee, etc.***

 photo E.via megaphone.jpg

In this instance****, though, especially given the cultural distance, my not knowing Korea or Korean, I really can't say what's going on; this has inspired me to actually read some books about Korea. Not that what I learn will tell me what I want to know here, which is whether the E.via I've fallen in love with, whom I basically constructed in my mind out of scraps and song bits*****, has anything to do with any kind of reality. Did the Jagger? Pretty much everyone on my love list above has got some Jagger in her or him, or has me projecting the Jagger, anyway, Jagger Jagger burning bright, a combination of Jagger and Miss Lonely, my believing that the world is continually picking up the baton that the Stones and Dylan dropped, and dropping and picking up again.

E.via's attitude towards cute like Ray Davies' attitude towards sunny afternoons )

video for Hey!, plus commentary )
koganbot: (Default)
So today, I was puzzling over whether the album title Beggars Banquet has an apostrophe before the s or not, and I went to Wikipedia and looked and it did not. But then I thought to myself, "You can't trust Wikipedia, so maybe I should check discogs and allmusic as well." And I went to the address bar and started typing...

And only then, finally, did it occur to me that I own the album Beggars Banquet and it is on a shelf approximately two feet from where I am sitting, and I can actually check the actual album and find out for sure, taking no more than two seconds.

(No apostrophe.)
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I write funny comment in Jukebox Ke$ha thread. (Also contains Taylor content, and Stones.)
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Erika brings up Didi's "Play With Fire" over on the Didi-Rhiannon thread, and I talk about it on the Freaky Trigger canon thread. Here's what I say:

Saw Crystal Bowersox and Didi Benami from Stones night on American Idol, and for the second week in a row I thought that, although Bowersox' vocals were stonger and richer and more self-assured, it was flighty quirk-and-curlicue girl Benami who managed to burrow deeper into the music, even while flubbing and flying around it too. It helps Didi that I way prefer "Play With Fire" to "You Can't Always Get What You Want." On the latter, Crystal didn't really communicate much beyond "good voice" and "jazz-soul command," nothing about wanting and getting; she has done and will do a lot better, whereas Didi is unsure and unformed but she's already given three gripping performances, this and "Rhiannon" last week (which you'd think would have been a suicide choice) and "Terrified" during Hollywood week.

The thing about the Stones' best material, which sold big because it meant a lot of different things to different people, is that, paradoxically, for me the material isn't open to a lot of interpretations, and I rarely like to hear it covered. If you can't do Jagger's tensions - e.g., "Heart Of Stone," which is the Stones' real can't-always-get-what-you-want song - can't totally deliver strength and menace while writing lyrics that expose the strength and menace as a fraud, with the singing and playing forcefully counteracting the lyrics and being as convincing as the supposed unmasking... if you can't prance along that balance beam, then what's the point?

Since this time it's Didi's voice, you get the sense that, though as the singer she's the narrator, she as much as the person she's singing about can be menaced and played with, but nonetheless she'll display bits of vocal strength that make the "don't mess with me" credible; and because the song's lyrics own the weakness a lot less than "Heart Of Stone"'s do, Didi's actually brought something to the song, walks along her own borderline between not getting what you say you can, and getting what you say you can't, and not knowing what you need.

Play With Fire video )

EDIT: I say favorable things about Crystal Bowersox' appearance over on Martin's lj.
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Strangely lilting version of "Rhiannon" by Didi Benami on American Idol, like she's dancing carefree on icicles, very audacious to give it a different mood. Then in the last ten seconds she finds her way to what was haunting in the original.

Then she is the darkness; FM live )
Only dipped a little into American Idol this week, just this and the Bowersox and the Magnus. (Bowersox was masterful, striding through a Tracy Chapman blues while giving the impression of having wind held in reserve, totally at her command; don't see how she doesn't win it all unless she gets sick again, but me, getting a little restless... well, Kara gave us the usual platitude, "this is what we talk about when people know who they are," and I was wishing I was sitting in Simon's spot so I could say, "Yeah, well, Kelly Clarkson doesn't know who she is, and Elvis Presley never knew who he was, and Kara here doesn't have a clue who she is and wouldn't be as interesting if she did, but yes, it was a beautiful performance, always a pleasure etc.")

So, anything else of note on this week's AI?

h/t Jimmy Draper.
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Hallelujah I'm a bore, or the Top 40 is, anyway, with a Haiti charity knock-off and a country disappointment the only newcomers on an already snoozing chart.

Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris )

Jason Aldean )

Speaking of Hope For Haiti, down at #72 Taylor Swift's Better Than Ezra cover is painfully out-of-tune, though the pitch problem is the musicians' at least as much as Taylor's; I seem to be erratic as to when pitch problems bother me. Taylor herself is erratic: Cis reported last year that Taylor's London show was completely in tune, and Himes wrote in his year-end essay that he'd witnessed her being pitch perfect. Maybe for all of Taylor's apparent poise, she actually chokes in the face of a national TV audience. (But my own pitch problems never have anything to do with choking or not, from what I can tell.)
koganbot: (Default)
Just posted this on the ilX Rolling Music Writers' Thread in response to some unthought-through statements from Matos and Weingarten:

I doubt that someone who hasn't "earned" the right to use the first person has earned the right to bore us with adjectives and genre designations either. Someone who falls asleep at my use of the first person isn't interested in my ideas anyway, whether I'm in the first person or not. To go back to my analogy [upthread], the phrase "guitar band" is a red flag for me these days, indicating that I'm likely to dislike what I hear. But the problem isn't with guitars themselves; guitars don't kill music, musicians kill music, and if you had the same guys playing keyboards or xylophones they'd probably be just as dreary. "Electric guitar" meant electric excitement in '66, it means drudgery now. But there's plenty of electric guitar excitement in music today - great stuttering Keith Richards-style guitar chords at the start of Martina McBride's "Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong," for instance - it just doesn't usually come packaged with "guitar band" on the label.

red flag )
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I have made a decision for the remainder of 2009 to listen to no more Albums I Haven't Heard Yet. So, a trifle early, here is my decade's end albums list:

Top Ten Albums Of The '00s

1. Ashlee Simpson Autobiography
2. Montgomery Gentry Carrying On
3. Big & Rich Horse Of A Different Color
4. Britney Spears Blackout
5. t.A.T.u. Dangerous & Moving
6. Various Artists Global Hits 2002
7. Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP
8. Ying Yang Twins Me & My Brother
9. Fannypack See You Next Tuesday
10. Paris Hilton Paris

Exuberance )
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Was perusing old Populars and found my way to an all-time classic thread from 2005 in regard to Roger Miller's "King Of The Road." Tremendous commentary on all sides of the question (and stunningly, "King Of The Road" revealed big questions), Marcello being hilariously witty in dissent, and as for my own contributions, I must say that if you'd been following my work before then I probably come across as someone who continually rerecords and rereleases the same song in the hope that this time it will finally be a hit. But I do like my retort to a generally very smart post by "Matt" (think this is Cibula rather than Matt DC, who also posts on the thread) wherein he inexplicably says that "King Of The Road" is about many things but the Rolling Stones is not one of them. And I say:

"Just what do you think the phrase 'A rolling stone gathers no moss' means?"
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Mark gave me: pragmatism! r. meltzer! red dark sweet! call-and-response! the rolling stones!

Pragmatism! )

R. Meltzer! )

Red Dark Sweet! )

Call-And-Response! )

The Rolling Stones! )
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Conversation on Saturday afternoon:

Me: The Rolling Stones' Got Live If You Want It is way way better than Get Your Ya-Yas Out.

Derek Krissoff (UGA Press editor whom I was now meeting in person for the first time): This morning I vowed to myself not to get into an argument with you about music, but you have NOW GONE TOO FAR!


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