Thursday, May 22, 2014
Who's the Rodney Dangerfield of Music Journalism?
Q: Who's the Rodney Dangerfield of Music Journalism? A: I am, that's who. Plus Ramblings Like Journalistic Integrity & Some of the Best (Rock) Music of the Past Six Decades. Please allow me to take this moment to be a bit bitter. Rolling Stone, just issued a piece on Jack White which referred to him as "The Willy Wonka of Rock & Roll." I felt like a hack and late to the party when I referred to White as Wonka over three years ago in this lil' engine that might blog. Similarly, several years ago I was writing reviews for a respected magazine. I pitched a well researched meaty idea about White and the not yet established / eminently launching store front & label Third Man Records. They were very interested (I was told), but told me shortly thereafter they would pass on my idea. Several months later (un)said magazine did a cover piece about White's Third Man Records and featured an interview. Was I a bit miffed? Yes. This was not the first time I'd experienced such an event in my "illustrious career." My pitches for music, film, and feminist interest pieces were written about later by others, sometimes the person to whom I'd sent the pitch. Hell my kitschy (pre zeitgeist) piece with a member of White Denim spewing tales of bacon and related merchandise was rejected with a "No one wants to read about bacon." Okay, understood, not what the Dr ordered, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable albeit non traditional band interview which arose from having to write an interview piece with a band member who absolutely refused to speak about anything remotely related to music. However, a year later the same editor approved a print piece on bacon and bacon related merchandise with full layout. The magazine went under, and neither Pitchfork (although I've still managed to scoop them occasionally), nor others for whom I'm qualified to be paid to write have knocked on my door and honestly I'm not concerned with being cool. I just love music and I like not having to take on stories in which I have no interest. This obviously negatively effects my career so I've been languishing in the "Is anyone reading this?" unpaid world of the humble DIY blog and an on again off again enjoyable contribution to a Canadian online magazine. But from whom do you want your musical opinions and information? You can choose someone qualified but unbiased by a corporate agenda or ongoing dependent relationship with labels and P.R. people. That encompasses many blogs and websites since the internet has opened the world ever wider for everyone to have an opinion, but you have to find opinions worth reading and writing that is competent. I've repeatedly spotted errors in both grammar and facts on major sites that I'd venture to say wouldn't have made it past a print editor a scant few years ago. I began writing here for pleasure while still writing for other venues. I wanted a place to express opinions without the parameters that often exist in the professional world of journalism. I wanted to do what I loved and write about all sorts of things in both traditional and non traditional formats. I wrote straight news about tour dates and upcoming releases and reviewed some albums or singles, or just threw songs and videos to the audience when I found them worthwhile, but then began to experience some of the pressures both self induced and that from prodding P.R. "friends" emails. You may know what I mean, it goes something like this "Hey how are you doing? So and So is coming to (insert nearby venue) and I'm wondering what you can do for me?" And "Hey just checking in again about "so and so" and if you're interested in covering them pre-album, or pre-show or doing a review." A few colleagues even sent the above sort of correspondence, but with an added "Checking in again about my email of (some date) and (some other date) as if I were receiving some form of administrative communication from someone to whom I was beholden. Guess what? I didn't reply. I secretly wanted to write "Hey regarding your unnecessary repeat emails regarding something in which I have no interest, I didn't get back to you because that band and or album bores the great googly moogly outta me. They don't even suck. They don't evoke an opinion. They're ponderously beige. Look (insert p.r. person) I know it and you know it, this shit is marginal at best. Just send me a sign, put out a smoke signal, give me a code word for when something is actually worth a.) listening to and b.) writing about because it's so good I feel I must tell others. Sweet crikes on melba toast I don't want to struggle to form 50-200 words to describe another mind numbingly boring album. I don't want to be reminded I'm waiting for something to move me like a fourteen year old discovering The Kinks Something Else, The Stooges Raw Power, The Pixies Doolittle,Beck Odelay, The Flaming Lips Soft Bulletin, Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not, The Dead Weather Horehound, The Strypes Snapshot or OFF! Wasted Years. Asking to be moved by music enough to bother to write about it isn't too much to ask. Neither is getting an honest uncolored opinion unconcerned with cool points. I support bands that I feel deserve my cash (what precious little there is of it) and or offer to sell merch for them when they come into town, because I want to help and because I'm competent and trustworthy - the same thing I can say about my writing all the time. I don't have to whore myself or struggle to come up with new and interesting ways to say "meh." So I won't. If someone into my blog or twitter (@thisismyhappeni)or facebook (Kaye Telle) wants to give me the "heads up" on something I should try to review, I welcome it. If you follow me on Facebook and not Twitter or vice versa I'd appreciate an add. So as Spinal Tap begins I'll end: "But hey, enough of my yakkin'; whaddaya say? Let's boogie!"