Sep 232011

Relevant or just plain good?

Now try this:

Irrelevant or just plain shitty?

Although I certainly agree with the general gist of Machinery’s REM thread, and would, myself, add at least 10 years to his over-generous assessment of REM’s breakup being “15 years too late,” I think that framing such a discussion around  “relevance” is a mistake. No performer is going to remain relevant forever. Some great performers do not attain relevance while they are active, even. Relevance is largely irrelevant. What matters is the quality of the work. REM’s work after, let’s be generous here, Document may be more relevant than what came before, or it may be less relevant. I have no idea. Perhaps many people find “Everybody Poops”–er, “Hurts”–to be far more relevant than “Radio Free Europe.” I suppose there is nothing preventing a mawkish, bathetic, and dull-as-dirt song from being relevant to people.

Since of course the Stones have been mentioned, the problem with their post-Tattoo You (say) records is not irrelevance, it is shittiness. You might say that the two are related, but in all fairness, the best Stones record ever was not going to make them relevant in 1990.

Let’s try this exercise again:

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