For the Record: Denouncing a Boneheaded Idea About Pop Music

An unfortunate, lingering side-effect of the persistent remnants of high-culture arrogance 30 years ago was the following “reasoning”:

Theater and classical music were Serious Art best explained by serious writers for a serious, intelligent audience.

Films and jazz had earned a seat at the lower end of the Serious table, but they had a essential commercial streak that made denouncing big hits something to avoid.

Popular music was garbage and nothing but commerce. So a serious writer who took on pop was a fool. Writing for a tiny audience of other fools. The correct move was dumb writing for dumb people, which would attract a huge audience.

Of course this never worked in practice. (Pointing out that those who read about pop music were already the intellectual fans didn’t seem to make any difference.) So the nonsense has fallen out of favor.

What has replaced it is the notion that gossip and celebrity-drooling will make a lot more bucks than serious discussion. And that, sadly, is hard to deny.

The Flaws I Picked

I like to imagine that, before I was born, I was presented with a list of physical shortcomings and told I had to take several with me into life. I must have picked “Weak Eyes — with persistent stressful interludes,” but also, “Great Difficulty Tying Knots.” I was the last one in Kindergarten to learn how to tie my shoes. That bow knot was flat incomprehensible to me. But at least the knots on the extra garbage bags today were good enough.

Picking Up Whatever Little (Bittersweet) Sparkles I Can Find …

One of the most annoying and persistent complaints about “critics” that I’ve heard over the decades is that “critics” are arrogant assholes who want to tell everybody else what to think. I concluded long ago that the best explanation for this misreading is that it was self-projection. Always had a caveat: “But there can’t be that many of that kind of jerk in the world, can there?”

Well, I now know there can.