Friday, June 02, 2006

Mixed Tapes Are Representative of Emotional Vacuity, or, Lester Bangs' Ghost Can Kiss My Yellow Ass

I am short on material today. As much as I adhere to the "that's not writing, that's typing"-type of writing I cannot but get on a rickety soapbox and address a rather disturbing trend observed of late in the blogoverse. I call it the "mixed tape" blog. This isn't to say the trend is recent, it's just me. Until last year I thought a blog was a particularly splashy shit.

You may be aware of the mixed tape. You have either made one at some point, in an effort to tell someone about yourself, or you have received the tape from someone who is trying to tell you something about themself (without just doing so) that they cannot put into words because... it's... too... personal for mere words (or possibly because the giver is too, hmm, full of himself to relate properly to another). Now, before you readers (all 2 of you) (Hi Honey!) get pissy because you are or may be mixed-tape practitioners of long standing and actually prefer it as a method of self-revelation, or self-veiling, or are people who can communicate with others quite well and who just happen to enjoy sharing a variety of music with others notwithstanding copyright laws, I will confess to having given and received mixed tapes. Yes, I have been on both ends of this deep, culturally weighted, and encoded mixed-tape equation. I have been that callow youth attempting to reveal my deepest self through the medium of a carefully selected and meaningful selection of songs written and performed by someone else. I have been the eager contestant in shittiest-mixed-tape contests.

I can tell you, having gained some slight distance from the practice, the only things I think I ever communicated in giving the tapes to another were my tastes in music (impeccable, I might add), and my unwillingness or inability to communicate verbally. The only thing I ever learned about the other from accepting their tapes was to avoid listening to their crappy record collections. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this practice, and are likely still pondering whether you should upgrade your home listening system from wax cylinders, further and better description of the phenomenon I am unjustly portraying is described in the book High Fidelity (and to a lesser extent, the movie bearing that name).

So, bloggilly described, the mixed tape blog is one where the author reveals his (usually) favourite songs, records, and musicians in an effort to either describe himself in a manner calculated to impress upon the audience both his impeccable taste in music and his artistic soul. Whatever. It's a mixed tape.

More odious than the mixed-tapery is the mixed tape blog with commentary. The author will attempt to put into words the music itself, the experience of listening, possibly the intentions of the artist. This is merely my view, but unless you are a musician who can describe music in musical terms (thus excluding the rest of us from the discussion) you should refrain from using your squishy little descriptors in an effort to breathe life into music you enjoy. Unless you are shilling for the label and are trying to overwhelm the reader with Eggers-esque and meaningless hyperbole in describing the groundbreaking soul-enriching qualities of the wretchedly banal 4/4 Casio-tone album in mind - keep it down. It's enough that you should enjoy the music- shut up and listen!

To quote a dead American composer: Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. For fine examples of odious amateur music writing, I refer you to The Rotter's Club by Jonathan Coe. (As an aside, I am not a musician, but a drummer. I am, by dint of my instrument and according to our resident maestro, MC Hitler, "someone who hangs out with musicians.")

If you are prone to the unfortunate acts I have just described (like me), and are irritated by my opinion, I welcome your response. Please keep in mind that I have, at various points in my life, compiled top 5 lists (now bottom 5 lists), joined band fan clubs, and argued with others the merits or demerits of bands or their music. It's not like I am immune from the disease of the mind referred to above. If only that were the case, then I could stop telling our band leader to cease selecting horrid songs for us to mangle publicly, and start playing some of the high quality product stored in my ipod. He picks the songs we play and we sound like some kind of MOR mixed tape. I can't take it. Artistic differences, rehab, solo albums &c. (As an aside, we do not play the "high quality" music on account of the fact that to do so would leave us "gigless and broke." I have yet to see a dime from our accountant.) I think this is the genesis of my mixed tape misanthropy. It's not you, it's me. Fuck.

With luck, MC Fuhrer will find this site and find out what I am afraid to tell him directly. I do what I can.

Yours in canary,



Blogger CroutonBoy said...

Ah yes, the mix-tape. I used to have a stack of these in my car so I'd always have something I wanted to listen to handy (and when I didn't want to listen to a whole album from someone, which was often). Fortunately I rarely gave them to people, which is its own form of non-verbal communication ("I am a selfish prick, and you're not worthy of my taste.")

Don't know what to tell you about MC Fuhrer, though, aside from just telling him to fuck off and go form your own band with everyone who agrees with you (which is of course the path of most resistance).

10:05 a.m.  

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