Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Just Like Honey"

Not too many years ago I was given a copy of "The Rock Snob's Dictionary" by someone who knows me far too well. It's a very funny, uncomfortably accurate collection of the sort of esoteric one-upmanship that music nerds can be guilty of.
Or, as the blurb puts it: "At last! An A-to-Z reference guide for readers who want to learn the cryptic language of Rock Snobs, those arcana-obsessed people who speak of "Rickenbacker guitars" and "Gram Parsons."
I'll put my hand up now, if I haven't before at some stage of this blog, and admit that yes, I'm a Rock Snob. I can argue at LENGTH about whether the Stones were better with Brian or without, about the classical references strewn all about the Beatles' work, or about how Jackson Browne is more important than the Eagles.
And if you want to pick up these or any other topics with me, you can do it in the comments section.
But I'm going to go all wobbly and sad and admit that my Rock Snobbery has blinded me to a great number of treasures. Back in the mid-1980s, when I was still struggling to deal with punk in an adult fashion, I was unable -- or unwilling -- to process much in the way of what was going on at that time. I turned my back on gems like Los Lobos, Nick Cave, The Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen. Oh, sure, the odd piece of magic would break through the murk -- Killing Joke's "Love Like Blood" was one that really got to me -- but in general I was too busy still trying to process the 1970s.
Here's one song, and a band, I very definitely did miss out on.
And because I never exercised my Rock Snobbery on the Jesus & Mary Chain, they remain an intriguing mystery: I don't know the minutiae of their early days scratching around the club circuit, nor the details of their struggle to remain relevant in the face of increased popularity and major-label backing, their various drug-induced flame-outs and their triumphant renewal at a now-legendary gig in Budapest back in 1995. (I'm joking: this bit of Spinal-Tappery is meant to illustrate a point, ok?)
See? Because I can't contextualise the JAMC in any sort of stereotypical rock 'n roll storyline, I lose the ability to pontificate at length about just how great they are, and I can't whip out factoids and "in" references to show what a discerning fan I am. In short, "music fan digs great music for what it is shocker"!
Anyway, this is just terrific and needs to be listened to by everyone.