This summer I have been grasping in all directions for some new, exciting music. My journey began early on when my travels led me to The White Stripes’ hotly anticipated album, Icky Thump. On a lunch break from the DVD store I work at, I ran to
Target, of all places, and purchased the Stripes’ new disc directly after an older women stocked up on vegetables and laundry detergent. I know Art Brut would deny me ever being their friend for “buying albums in the super market,” but it was $9.98!
Like a kid at fat camp enjoying contraband in the form of chocolate, I nervously opened up the packaging and stuck the CD in the stereo. Initially, my mind was blown; my head was reeling in a musical wonderland. It is very impressive and one of the strangest mainstream rock albums in a very long time, but the candy striped snack did not satiate my hunger.
My summer has seemed to exist purely in 30 minute bursts of unpaid break time. On another day, driving away from work and to salvation (Panda Express), I got my next big lead. In Chicago, I turned on the ultra serious classic rock station is 97.1 The Drive and my dial happened upon … destiny in a sense. A meandering guitar melody and huge levels of pomp and testosterone caught my attention and solidified my love for Bruce Springsteen.
True, I previously enjoyed and appreciated The Boss; Born to Run and The Seeger Sessions both received heavy listening last school year, but hearing “Rosalita” that first time was like an infant’s first taste of chocolate cake. From Springsteen’s second album The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, “Rosalita” may well be the pinnacle of songwriting, and the album spoke in more ways than Icky Thump’s playful nonsense ever could.
I thought my search was over once again, but I still felt unsatisfied. I stuck with the classic rock though and went to Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night. Brilliant and played constantly in my car, but to quote Art Brut again, “No more songs about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll…
Last week, I more or less proclaimed the death of rock at the hands of John “Cassius” Mayer. It may not exactly be dead, but it doesn’t carry the weight that I’m sure it once did. Young’s tragic and beautiful album is a classic and will be added to my favorites, but I don’t think it can resonate in the ears of the public like it once did.
I enjoy the absurdity of the White Stripes, pump my fist to the intellectual dude-ness of Springsteen, and turn glassy eyed to the brilliance of Young and Crazy Horse, but I still want more. The answer came to me when I didn’t feel like listening to the scattered CDs on the floor of my parent’s mini-van or our local snobby radio stations. The answer is pop music … Rhianna or Nelly Furtado appearing out of the garbled mess that is a clear
Nick Hornby wrote a piece that validated pop music by its ability to give vastly different people a common ground. I agree, but also add that it’s fun to listen to. When I’m once again in front of my laptop, working late into every night, I’m sure I’ll find my way back to the critically applauded potpourri of classic artists and underground bands (i.e. new Okkervil River and Kevin Drew releases) but for now, as long as I have a half hour to drive around in my car, I think I’ll have my fill of bouncy drum beats and meaningless drivel.