Apr 232010

As an open-minded, true believer in The Power and Glory of Rock, I often wish I could better appreciate critically acclaimed bands that have never “done it” for me. Who doesn’t want to feel part of the In Crowd when hanging with rock ‘n roll tastemakers? You’ve heard my tales of revisiting bands like Love, Randy Newman, and others, and I appreciate that you have been moved by my efforts.

Occasionally, howver, my desire to appreciate a critically acclaimed band is driven more by simple social climbing in the rock world than entry into rock’s secret society of taste-making. Sometimes I think about how my social network could be extended if only I could sincerely nod approvingly when a “cool” band I previously didn’t like comes on the stereo at a party populated by people I’d enjoy getting to know better.

This feeling was more prevalent when I was young and single and seeking broader social networks and a girfriend. Being incredibly opinionated and taking pleasure in confrontation has its downfalls, Townspeeps. I suffer less for my ways these days because I exist in the comfort zone of a loving family and rapidly diminishing personal delusions, but when I was a young man I used to think about how much better my social life could have been if only I could like The Replacements.

I sill wish I could find it in myself to better appreciate The Replacements and Paul Westerberg, in general. Coming of age as an aspiring musician and rock nerd in the first half of the 1980s, my preturnatural rock ‘n roll began to suck in 1983 mindset was detrimental to rock scene networking. For many of my peers the “college rock” or “underground” scene, as we called it before it became “alternative,” offered a bounty of exciting, promising DIY bands. Although I was as invigorated as anyone by the DIY spirit, I had trouble warming up to underground favorites like REM, Husker Du, and The Replacements.

This not only limited my opportunities for making cool with other rock scenesters, it limited my opportunities of making contact with the young women hovering around the rock scene. I’d meet a cool girl at a show who would excitedly tell me about how cool she thought The Replacements were or how my band reminded her of REM and, rather than use this comment as an opportunity to accept some flattery and enable the bonding process I’d be unable to contain making some disgusted face and uttering one of my tight-ass opinions about the celebrated band to which we’d been compared. Talk about a deal-breaker!

Like I said, there were many artists in the mid-’80s that I should have liked but didn’t, but of all those artists the fans of The Replacements had the best selection of good guys I could have more easily befriended and good-looking girls I might have dated. But nooooooooooo!

So I ask you: Is there an artist you most wish you could like, if only to broaden your rock-related social skills?


  14 Responses to “Artist I Most Wish I Could Like, if Only to Broaden My Rock-Related Social Skills”

  1. “…my preturnatural rock ‘n roll began to suck in 1983 mindset”

    And when, exactly, did your band start to become a serious concern?

    I keed! I dunno/care about the others mentioned, but you’re just plain wrong about Westerberg & Co., and that’s my final word on the matter.

    Yeah, for me it would be The Doors & Nirvana (the one from Seattle). Never understood all the hoopla around either of those bands, and I actively despise their frontmen for reasons too numerous to get into, yet can be summed up in one word: WANKERS.

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    REM was a big one I was supposed to get and didn’t. In general, it seemed as though I often fell down on the job when it came to “jangle bands.” I thought most of them sucked, and most of my friends disagreed with me.

  3. Nowadays, I don’t particularly care about broadening my social skills. I never make it out of the house unless it’s for band practice or a gig so no point in honing something I won’t need to use.

    As for the past, my issue (and possibly the Mod’s as well), has less to do with the company I was keeping than my own musical self-righteousness and contrarian streak.

    During college and for about 3 years after, I went to roughly 30 Dead shows. In all my time spent with free thinking hippie chicks, I was never the beneficiary of some late 60’s/early 70’s style free love as the result of being in that scene. That says a lot more about me than it does about the scene. I doubt if I sucked it up and bought some XTC albums it would have been much different. In fact, I’m guessing that there would be significantly less bra-less chicks at whom to gawk.

    Also, as for the Mats, that ship has sailed for you, Mod. I love the Replacements but I think that they are really a Time/Place kind of band. If they didn’t click for you when you were doing your 40 days in the desert, they are not likely to click now that you are a family man with a different perspective and set of concerns.

  4. I suppose the correct answer would be yes. But this presupposes that I’m lacking in, and therefore interested in, broadening my “rock-related social skills.” It also kinda seems as if you’re saying people aren’t accepting of different preferences for music.

    I dunno, I’m pretty comfortable liking who I like and letting others do the same. Sure, I sometimes think people are stoopid for liking someone, but I’m pretty clear on that is *me* thinking they’re stoopid and not that they *are* stoopid.

    Not liking some of the stoopid bands that other’s liked saved me a lot of $ in concert tix. Also a lot of dates with stoopid boys who liked stoopid music.

    There is just so much criteria that goes into making a personal judgment. There are bands I like that I wouldn’t call good, but I like them. And there are ones that I appreciate how skilled they are but they bore me.

    So I suppose my correct answer would be no. It would be like trying to make myself eat something that I don’t think tastes good. Why bother.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    cdm, you get exactly what I’m saying. I’m sorry to hear you struck out in the Dead scene. That was a good scene for socializing even if you never pretended to like the music! Are you telling me you were worse than I was at finding love in all the wrong places? Good thing we didn’t know you back then. You might have brought the collective mojo of our band down to new depths.

    I’d say you ran little social risk in not getting into XTC. You would have already been friendly by nerdy XTC fans like myself and chickenfrank, and there were few if any opportunities for meeting women. There are other bands I wished I’d liked more, such as The Minutemen, but I don’t think liking them more would have helped me get close to the people I wanted to have a chance at getting close to.

    dale evans, it’s good that you have not burdened yourself with some of the stupid things I’ve had to go through. There’s definitely no need to like any band to impress people.

  6. bostonhistorian

    I thought the whole point of rock and roll was to avoid social skills: sitting in your basement smoking weed and listening to the Dead, sitting in your basement drinking beer and listening to the Replacements, turning up your nose at the crap played at clubs that got women dancing but you wouldn’t be caught dead even tapping a toe to, looking down your nose at people who bought whatever was being featured in Rolling Stone because “you were into that before it was even popular, and besides, after their first album they sucked”. I’m having a hard time thinking of a band that if only I’d liked them would have appreciably changed my social life….

  7. I often go in the opposite direction – not liking a band because I don’t want to be on the bandwagon. Then I realize after the fact that I missed something good. I avoided the Smiths when they existed, for the most part. I was late to Arcade Fire because of the hipster factor.

    There is definitely music I hear on KEXP that I think is terrible and I find myself flipping to the rock station instead, which just makes me feel old. I’d love to be in with the cool kids, but more and more I find some collective from Portland with a trumpet and a laptop to be unappealing.

    In younger days, I definitely bought some cool albums to compensate for buying something not as cool. I think I bought “Shoot out the lights” because I felt stupid buying a Depeche Mode album. I bought Marquee Moon for the same reason – I love all those albums, but I was definitely compensating for cheesy purchases with something that I knew had more musical moral fiber. I think I just wanted the clerks at the store to respect me, isn’t that sad?

  8. I never got the big deal with REM, either…or most others of their ilk.

    cdm, I’m sorry you had to go through that, man, but maybe you should count yourself lucky that you didn’t get *too* friendly with the hippie, free love set, as you would most likely have inadvertently made friends with the little creatures which tend to make their temporary homes on the beings of said (dirty, filthy) hippies. It’s a thought.

    I wasn’t aware of liking or disliking bands as a way of becoming more “socially active” with people. I thought that was what being IN a band was for; something I never got the hang of, myself.

  9. sammymaudlin

    Two that I’ve tried, over and over again to appreciate are Captain Beefheart and The Smiths. On many occasions I have felt out of the loop due to my, not just lack of appreciation, but outright disdain for both of these acts.

    It has taken me decades to let go of the harsh internal judgments I had for fans of Beefheart and The Smiths. I kept my Beefheart beef to myself until only recently, https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/index.php/bullshit-on-captain-beefheart, as the fear of being ostracized by the cool kids was too great for too long.

    But I never had a problem with making a fart sound when someone went on about how great The Smiths are.

  10. Don’t like Beefheart!?!…Pussy!

  11. Mr. Moderator

    Sammy, at least by not liking Beefheart you’re not limiting yourself too much in terms of social networking. I do agree with bobby, however:P

  12. Hey….I’m only kidding around, guys!!! Don’t make me the heavy here, fellahs. You know how much I respect you Sammy, as a host & a human being….If the people knew about all the work you’ve done for those kids…..sorry, I’m getting a little choked up here…

  13. Dennis Miller once said something like “The problem with smoking pot is the people you have to hang out with when you smoke pot.” Or alternately, Groucho’s quip that he wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have him as a member.

    I once went on a date with a super-cool chick, probably too cool for me. We were wandering through a record store and she pointed to a Guns & Roses bootleg. I said, “I always thought that band was silly.” She winced, said, “oooooh” and that was pretty much the end of the date.

    In my college days, I tolerated a lot of jam bands and also industrial music, purely for the sake of socializing. But ultimately, I have to say, trying to like a band just to fit in with people never really worked out well for me. Thus, my above references.

  14. misterioso

    Husker Du. All of friends loved/love Husker Du. I still don’t get it.

    I nearly missed the boat on the Replacements entirely for the reasons expressed by Groucho’s Law, only really got into them as they were on their way out.

    I believe that is what is known as being a contrarian.

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