Jul 152008

Now, I appreciate Mr. Mod’s suggestion that This Is Your Rock Town Hall, but we all know that it ain’t always so. We all know that there are all sorts of subjects having to do with rock and roll and its aftermath that can’t get a fair hearing around here, because we know what everybody’s tastes are and we know what they will or won’t allow without making blog equivalents of the bodily noises of middle-aged males spending too much time in front of computer screens.

So in this post–the first of a series, if necessary–I’d like to hear about what you think are the types of subjects that could never possibly get a fair hearing on Rock Town Hall. If you want, I’d also love to know why you think these subjects can’t get a fair hearing. As the rules of this game go, responses that suggest that you can get a fair hearing will be considered out of bounds. However, I encourage people to respond by agreeing that the subject could never get a fair shake on this list and explaining why they themselves are not prepared to give the subject a fair shake. The only way to Listen Without Prejudice is to Recognize The Prejudice.

The Moderator knows that I play this game often in different variations, but it ain’t gonna be Your Rock Town Hall until you can speak about those things Rock Town Hall doesn’t want to hear. Only by our coming to terms with the fact that This Is Not Our Rock Town Hall can Rock Town Hall possibly be Our Rock Town Hall.

I look forward to your responses.


  35 Responses to “This Is Not Your Rock Town Hall”

  1. Mr. Moderator

    Mwall, I feel a lot of barriers coming down already, but first: how do you describe “fair hearing?”

  2. That question is ruled out of bounds, Mod. We all know we’re not getting a fair hearing around here, so cut it out with the wiggle room, okay?

    However, if you want to resubmit this issue by suggesting that the idea of a fair hearing can’t get a fair hearing around here, I’d be ready to agree with you and tell you why.

  3. BigSteve

    This is Rock with a capital R Town Hall. There are a lot of related musical styles that I feel don’t get a fair hearing here — country, dance/electronica, anything not Anglo-American, for example. California rock generally gets short shrift around here too.

    And because it’s Rock with a capital R we bend over backwards to give a fair hearing to artists that don’t really deserve it. Like, say, Deep Purple and Bad Company.

  4. Mr. Moderator

    California rock, like The Byrds, The Eagles, The Beach Boys, et al? That stuff plays BIGTIME around here. How much are we missing?

  5. I agree that those topics don’t get a fair hearing here, Steve. On the one hand, insisting that rock and roll does have some distinct features is probably pretty important so that we don’t end up saying that, you know, Mozart was really rock too. But on the other hand we could benefit a lot from more thorough discussions of related musical styles. Not only would it help us understand rock and roll better, it would give us more to talk about. But we don’t get that benefit, at least partly because everybody around here is too damn proud to not know what they don’t know. Is there some particular issue you’ve been thinking about lately that you wish would get a response here but you know would not?

  6. You’re out of bounds again, Mod. I would however appreciate hearing why you can’t talk about California music without prejudice.

  7. 2000 Man

    I’m pretty sure that so far as The Eagles go, They suuuuuck, man, and Don Henley is the Devil about covers it.

    I think that’s more than fair.

    I’m pretty surprised with the things Rock Town Hall covers. I honestly never heard Ethiopian music before coming here, and there’s some people that seem to know a lot about jazz, too.

  8. BigSteve

    Mr. Mod, the point is giving them a fair hearing. Playing them big time by heaping them with ridicule is not the same thing. There’s a definite east coast bias here because of the core demographic.

  9. 2000 Man, we’re not interested in this thread in what you think is fair and what you think this list has exposed you to. We’re not interested in those kinds of self-congratulatory biases. We’re interested only in what you think is unfair and what you feel this list will not let you explore. Open up, my friend.

  10. Mr. Moderator

    I’ve had a good 40 years of having California rock bands shoved down my throat. What’s not fair about not liking them AND – more importantly – taking the responsibility of finding groundbreaking, insightful ways of explaining why I don’t like them?

    I say the Halls of Rock ARE your Halls of Rock. Have the balls to throw stuff out for all of us to see. Sometimes The People dig it. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they say nothing. You don’t see my crying because Daddy Cool got no play yesterday, do you? Poor me, poor Daddy Cool, I could cry. Instead, I take pride in doing what I could do to keep the legacy of Daddy Cool alive.

    You know who really should be coming under fire? Anyone who’s not yet participated in this thread. Come clean with whatever’s not gotten a fair hearing, in your opinion. ELO? Prince? ZZ Top? George Stinking Thorogood got a fair hearing in RTH. Make it so! The Quiet Storm will not be heard on this issue!

  11. Mod, please don’t feel any need to be defensive here. You too, I’m sure, have felt that there are issues that you would like to discuss that this list will not give a fair hearing. You seem to feel that some issues can’t get a fair shake because people who agree with a point don’t speak up, they only speak to disagree. I think you’re right about that.

    Lately, I myself have been trying to consider the relative importance of Metallica, Megadeath, and Slayer as the standard bearers of heavy metal at a time when I no longer listened to heavy metal unironically. I know for a fact that I can’t get a fair hearing on this subject. Someone will say “military beat.” Someone will say “cookie monster vocals.” Then someone will say, “Fuck you, I like heavy metal.” And that will end the discussion.

  12. hrrundivbakshi

    Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure “Quiet Storm” music would not get a fair hearing here.

  13. I think an honest discussion on the whole boy band/Britney Spears genre and the role of Max Martin wouldn’t get a fair hearing

  14. I think you’re right about that, andyr. Do you think that’s due more to dislike of success, dislike of mainstream pop of a certain era, or dislike of unconventional approaches to masculinity? Maybe all three? Other reasons as well? I’m only beginning to see all the ways in which we might be prejudiced on this issue.

  15. alexmagic

    I don’t think Steely Dan would ever be able to get a fair hearing in the Hall.

  16. It is a rigged game around here, man. And one more thing. I don’t need no slip of paper to tell me that my old lady belongs to me and shit (feel free to insert any other quote from “Easy Rider” or “Hells Angels on Wheels” that uses hippie gabble to express the injustice of the law).

    Right on, bro!
    E. Plurbius

  17. BigSteve

    mwall wrote:

    Is there some particular issue you’ve been thinking about lately that you wish would get a response here but you know would not?

    Not really. Hear Factor, if it ever happens, has the chance to introduce into the mix types of music that would ordinarily not be discussed here. But then again last year sally cinnamon was so freaked out by the minimalist techno disc she got from me that she disappeared from the Hall.

    Sometimes it just seems like I spend a lot of time here (and I seriously do enjoy the discussions and the outlet they afford for socializing virtually), but the kind of music we talk about represents only about 10% of what I actually listen to on a regular basis.

  18. BigSteve

    I should say that the discussion of Little Jackie was a real step forward. That’s one kind of music that ordinarily would be beneath the RTH radar.

  19. Mr. Moderator

    And who brought Little Jackie to The Main Stage? Someone other than myself, that’s who! I would love to read more things by Townspeople other than myself – no offense meant to myself. I personally did not go ga-ga over that Little Jackie song, but it was OK. I liked the story, but because the music failed to move me one way or the other, I didn’t have a lot to say. That happens sometimes. Mad props to The Great 48 for broadening our horizons. Let’s hear it for the rest of you who do so as well, whether through great or small means.

    Hear Factor WILL happen. I’ve just been too busy/lame to get to the post office. I’ll shoot for getting the packages out tomorrow.

    Please note, I’m not offended by any of this. Rather, I’m feeling revitalized and hopeful. Bring it on!

  20. Mr. Moderator

    Keep this in mind, as some of you flail against the true democracy that is behind discussions on RTH: some of the music any of us might hope to discuss on a given day can be hard to discuss. Sometimes the music doesn’t lend itself to discussion. Sometimes expressing love for some kind of music is tough to discuss, especially when all you get is the Quiet Storm nodding along in agreement and sending you offlist messages of support. Some entire periods of music seem to be best appreciated by segments of rock fans who are completely inarticulate about music. Check out the stimulating rock discussion on all those circle jerk new music blogs out there, for example. I would LOVE for someone to bring the noise on, say, Sufjan Stevens, and then hang in there while we grapple with it. The Great 48 and Hrrundivbakshi can show you the way. Look at what they went through to support the Style Council. That took BALLS – and they stood behind their men in an articulate, intelligent way. I would love to get inside the heads of whatever indie rock sheep are reading Oats’ The Hold Steady post this afternoon. Let’s see who’s going to step up and attempt to educate Oats. I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if a member of The Cool Patrol posts anything more than, “That’s not cool, man” in response to Oats’ fresh point of view. More power to Oats, regardless of whether I agree with him or not. The guy even acknowledged that he was sounding like me and my Peter Gabriel rant from a few months back. I’d advise those of you who are reading along and not commenting to buck up and make yourselves heard. Those of you who are whining here in public are all right with me. Nothing’s fair, but it’s all fair game.

  21. Certainly those folks who are speaking up about what they feel would not get a fair hearing are doing their part to Take Back Rock Town Hall, and to my mind are living up to the spirit of the Hall at its best. The silence of others may or may not indicate a level of alienation which is disheartening. It is possible that they believe that even their statements about what does not get a fair hearing would not get a fair hearing. Or even worse, that they don’t give a shit whose Rock Town Hall it is. Mod, I think when we have discussed this issue as completely as it seems we are going to, we need a poll, with three options:

    1) This is my Rock Town Hall.

    2) This is not my Rock Town Hall.

    3) Like I could give the slightest damn whose Rock Town Hall it is.

  22. Mr. Moderator

    Are you closing this discussion too fast? Are you suggesting this is Your Rock Town Hall and no one else’s? I’ll run that poll, but I expect to hear from the Quiet Storm on this issue.

  23. Hey Mark,

    You drive me out of my fucking skull, but I’ve gotta give credit where credit is due. That last response of yours was a riot.

    May the Lord’s precious blood wash away every one of your thoroughly despicable sins.

    E. Pluribus

  24. general slocum

    Take Back Rock Town Hall?!? From whom? From where? To where? It’s Your RTH means it’s Your RTH, not Your Place Where People’s Opinions Are Always Inscrutable and Fluctuating! Nor is it Your Place Where Hale Young Men Have No Computers. I was one of only 1.5 chumps on here defending Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Zappa, whatever. As the negatives piled up, I never thought it wasn’t “fair.” They’re opinions, and fairness is largely irrelevant. If you strike a chord, people respond. Maybe what was meant is simply, “I don’t like you guys as much as I thought.” Which is also valid and fair. And, like Steve, I’ve got a lot of other musical interests that keep me from being in an RTH frame of mind some days. But that’s the “R” in RTH for you. Lighten up boys. (Remember before we chased the two women away? Feels like a kegger at 3:30 a.m., doesn’t it?) Go sit out on the stoop with a frosty tall-boy, and take it all in.

  25. No, Mod, I’m definitely not closing the discussion too early. I have the feeling that we’re yet to hear from several people who will have intense and important feelings about this issue. Also, several other people have written me offlist to suggest that they are not sure yet whether their suggestions about what would not get a fair hearing would get a fair hearing. I have been urging them to go public with their concerns. I am impressed with the level of passion that I am sensing among people who have not yet posted publicly on this subject.

    I appreciate the compliment, Plurb. I have to say, I enjoy entertaining you almost half as much as I enjoy driving you out of your fucking skull.

  26. Mwall,

    I can live with that, as long as I find it anmusing in one way or another.

    One thing. Are you still standing behind Volunteers by the Airplane? My friend, I simply don’t get it. Your top ten list kicked major ass, and then you throw in that as well as Layla -two of the stinkiest turds this nose has EVER smelt. What the fuck? Fess up. You made those choices just to put me on. No?

    E. Pluribus

    P.S. Steer clear from Slocum. He’s a major weirdo.

  27. Hey Plurb:

    “Volunteers” is a song I like a lot, but I don’t remembering putting in on my Top Ten list. It’s not even my favorite Airplane song, and in fact I believe none of their tunes made my top ten. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t completely remember what I put on that list.

    As to “Layla,” I doubt very much that it’s a song that can get a fair hearing on this list. I put it on my Rocktown Top Ten for a variety of reasons, but I still think it’s one of the great moments of rock and roll.

    I was with you on Deep Purple, Slocum. I believe “Tasty Riffage” expressed my positive feelings about that band quite succinctly. But I’m not so sure that saying “It’s Your Rocktown Hall” is equivalent to making it so. Presidential candidates are introduced as “Your Next President” very often, but the people still get a vote. I’m sure we will all be satisfied by what the people decide.

  28. I take it that “get a fair hearing” means listen without prejudice, right?

    That’s tough for me at this point. The “new” stuff I’ll listen to without prejudice these days wouldn’t fit at all into Rock Town Hall, stuff like old country or jazz.

    But there’s whole swaths of stuff that’s discussed here that I no longer can be bothered to listen to precisely because I know I’m too prejudiced to make it worth while. I’m interested in next to nothing that has come out in the last 20 years, unless it’s something by an artist I liked before that (Dylan, Robyn Hitchcock) or unless it’s someone who’s a throwback (Robbie Fulks, Buddy Miller).

    I listened to half of Daddy Cool. It’s from an era I like but they didn’t do it well enough to make it all the way thru. I checked out both songs but it took about a minute of Little Jackie to know that wasn’t going to interest me. The only thing I could add to the conversation would be “I knew within 30 seconds I wouldn’t like it so I didn’t bother to listen further” and there’s no point in posting that.

    It comes down to: do I spend time with sectors of music I don’t generally like in order to seek out a gem or do I listen to one of the Complete Motown Singles sets, knowing I’ll find stuff new to me that’s right up my alley? Easy choice.

    I do try, if only for 30 seconds, everything put up here – I too never expected to enjoy Ethiopiques but the cuts I heard made me buy a volume and I enjoy it a lot – but too often (and more and more often it seems) I’m too prejudiced to listen to it all the way thru and so have nothing to add to the conversation.

    Don’t think I’m complaining, I’m not. I’m very appreciative of the efforts of Mr. Mod and others to make this list Somebody’s Rock Town Hall. And I think of it as My Rock Town Hall more than enough to make it worthwhile.

    I did think of RTH v1 as more my RTH but I think that’s the videos. It seems like a thread needs to have videos here – Mr. Mod’s a born again VJ it seems – and I don’t have the time nor desire to troll thru youtube looking for suitable a/v aides for any discussion I might otherwise feel inclined to instigate.

    I don’t think of myself as part of the Quiet Storm but rather as part of the Quiet Lull Before The Lull.

    Who wants to talk about Robbie or Buddy???

  29. Well, congrats on Robbie’s son and father-in-law almost winning The Amazing Race last season! That’s about it.

  30. I just want to point out that the poll numbers on this question are intriguing. At this point, 50% of voters are claiming that this is their Rock Town Hall. Another 50% have refused the two original options, yet it ain’t so simple, since one of those answers really says “It’s not my Rocktown Hall” and two of them really say “I don’t know whose Rocktown it is.” The other three indicate not giving a damn whose Rock Town Hall it is.

    So the voting at this time stands at 6-3-3.

    50% embracing the hall looks either good or bad, depending on how you see it. No other candidate is even close though, and many a President has run the country with 49.2% of the vote, and even much less on occasion. So it looks like this is still Our Rock Town Hall, but that there’s a lot of disaffection lurking out there, just waiting for its chance to rebel.

    Just for the record, I voted that this WAS my Rock Town Hall.

  31. Mr. Moderator

    By “was” are you suggesting it’s no longer your Rock Town Hall? Do we need to poll you individually?

  32. I’m simply suggesting that was my vote at that time. Clearly all of us only get one vote per poll. But we can always vote again at a later time, in a different poll. This is the beauty of democracy.

  33. RTH Mach 1 was more like a wild jungle, things sprouting up spontaneously and forever evolving. RTH II is more like a cultivated garden. the little boxing of topics sometimes makes it hard for me to find my way into the conversation. I just don’t feel like I have the time to instigate. I mean I’d love to start Mekons discussion but I just don’t feel like I have the time to front it properly in the way that others seem to do much more efficiently. I do, now and then, have other artists that I’d like to see get a deeper discussion, maybe even a fairer hearing, but I honestly don’t think the strange competitve nature of the different stories vying for attention makes it as likely for a random thought to strike a spark to lead to new discussion. I’m NOT complaining, just observing the dynamics as I see them. The level of discourse on here is still astonishingly high, low and hilarious, but it just doesn’t seem as comfortable.

  34. hrrundivbakshi

    I refuse to give that shoe-gazing Loser Rock guy playing the banjo a fair hearing! Man, do you *like* that shit?!

  35. hrrundivbakshi


    That’s “Mark I,” Geo. This may sound like “Mach 1” when uttered by a pompous British windbag, but isn’t. Any fan of Deep Purple would know that!

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