Over at his secret blog, amateur gadfly and music critic Andrew Mister discusses friendship, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and Pavement haters.
I will fess up--I'm the dude who doesn't like Pavement. I first tried to get into them in 1992 or 1993. The cassette (old school!) was Slanted and Enchanted. I'm all for lo-fi, but something about Malkmus's nasal whine and the deliberate sloppiness just failed to click for me. But that's me. I know lots of folks who love Pavement. I also know plenty of people who hate the Beatles (not me, but Michael Stipe). I'm sorry that this makes my friend Andy angry, but that's the way it is. I once had a roommate named Hippie Marty who played "Gold Soundz" incessantly. Not the best time in my life. Oh, while were at it, I think I should mention that I don't like Built To Spill either.
A lot of this is, I assume, generational. Though only 7 years separate us, our musical tastes are rather different. Specifically, Mister calls 1997 a great year for music. Maybe it was, but I didn't listen to any new music between 1991 and 2002. That baker's decade seems to me (even though it wasn't) a wasteland. But back to the generation gap. Or the half-generation gap. I was having a beer with a friend of mine last week and we began to talk (well, I began to talk) about the Pixies. This friend's husband is more of a music snob than Mr. Mister, and he HATES the Pixies. Frank Black Francis a.k.a. Charles Thompson lives here in our little backwater burg, and when I spot him on the street I get all giddy like Marcia Brady meeting Desi Arnaz Jr. (Remember how she vowed never to wash her cheek again?) Anyway, my friend said, "I like the Pixies. I mean, I don't mind them. They're fine." My response was a long sigh, to which she responded "Tony, I'm too young." And she's right! The cut-off age, it seems, for the Pixies fanhood is 30. If you're younger than thirty you most likely heard one of the Pixies many posthumous imitators that flooded MTV and the new "Alternative" radio stations in the mid-90s. You heard Nirvana before you heard the Pixies. You heard Better Than Ezra before you heard the Pixies. You certainly didn't hear Husker Du.
But I digress. The first time I met Andy Mister, we sang a drunken rendition of Bowie's "Life on Mars." Common ground.
Now I must clarify some things. I never said that the recordings on Greatest Palace Music were better than the originals. I simply said I liked the album. I still do. On the other blog a few months (or a year or so) back, I tried to explain this. Here's a recap. I'm more into songs than musicians. I love Will Oldham not for his cracking voice but for his songs. GPM just contains different versions. I think they're good. Sure, they're glossy, but can't we have both? Back in 1991 or so, I came into possession of a cassette called Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead. I was fascinated because this featured the music of the Dead (which I was sure that I hated) performed by the likes of Jane's Addiction, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, and others. Surprise! I began to LIKE the Dead. Or rather, their songs. I still hated hippies and their extended jams and live shows and so forth. But I realized that they wrote some pretty amazing folk-country tunes. I think Will Oldham writes pretty amazing folk-country tunes too. I'm not going to cry foul when he covers himself though.
And, btw, Mister is wrong when he says that Bonnie "Prince" Billy marks a downward turn for Mr. Oldham. Ease Down the Road is a nearly perfect album. Master and Everyone can be intensely boring if you're not in the mood for it. But when you are, nothing else will do.
And I'm glad to have friends who challenge me. Andy made me a mixed CD once. It was REALLY good.