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.


Uncle E said...

The only semi-interesting factoid that I can recall about the JAMC is that Primal Scream crooner and all around rock and roll miscreant, Bobby Gillespie, was their original drummer. On this track as well.
They were pretty great, though...

Evil Minx said...

This is my favourite post of yours ever ever ever.


I enjoy and adore your commentary on music, and am always open to your musical recommendations. But a self-effacing "music fan digs great music for what it is shocker" post, especially one where you admit that you are the ultimate rock snob, endears me to you on, frankly, a particularly sizzling level.

Rawr. Come get minxy wid me, behbeh.

Natsthename said...

I have that book, too, and was totally roaring at the dropping of the word "seminal" as a snob's word.
I was a latecomer to JAMC, too, but all that matters is that we got there at long last.

Betty C. said...

I just ran into your blog through my "Ray Davies" Google alerts. I read a lot of blogs and have rarely wanted to plunge into one like I do yours.

I was a college DJ in the USA from 1978-1980 and almost pursued a radio career. I used to be a music snob and could hold forth on "all of the above," especially Jackson Browne. But life took me down another path (teaching) which has been equally rewarding -- and since I teach English as a Second Language, I still have the opportunity to foist a few songs on a willing or unwilling public.

Anyway, I have been looking for a blog to help me reconnect with some of the music that I have left behind over the past years of working, cooking, and raising a family. Yours may be it. I'll be back.

Londinium said...

Welcome Betty... I too did a stint as a DJ, on a boat bobbing in the North Sea. Being cooped up with 15,000 records was as close to heaven as it was possible to be. Or so I thought then!