Thursday, June 28, 2012

I know...

This post has been a couple of days in the making, and it’s still just an unfocused ramble... Thought I’d put it out there anyway... stop ruminating on it. My apologies in advance for what comes next...!

Axl Rose – inexplicably
sexy back in the day
I’ve been thinking about my last post (yeh, I know it’s been a while) – specifically about that girl who said Patti Smith is a prophet. It makes me think that we are pretty quick to inflate our cultural heroes beyond their actual “value.” And of course, no person is more important than other people, it’s just how we regard them.  Maybe it’s just the way people tend to hyperbolize nowadays. We say something is “awesome,” or someone is “a genius,” when in actuality, the thing might be pretty good, and the person might be insightful on occasion.

Or maybe it’s just ME rather than people in general. Maybe I’m easily impressed. I mean, my husband isn’t likely to use the word “awesome,” or “genius.” On the rare occasion when I cook something decent, Tom will say in a nonchalant sort of way, “it’s good”... but only if asked. Then he may eat three helpings. So either he was exceptionally hungry, or it was maybe a litte better than good. In terms of music or movies, he is extremely hard to please. A movie that earns an Oscar nomination may be described by my husband as, “Okay.” And not because his tastes aren't sophisticated... but because he is even MORE picky that the Oscar pickers! On second thought, I think Tom does use hyperbole too, but just less freely. He reserves it for his special favorites like Orson Welles and Bob Dylan. 
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young –
just good with words?

Not me... I have a long list of people I put on probably undeserved pedestals. Mostly musicians. If you don’t believe me, read this. I am not sure why these guys capture my heart – and it IS just the guys. Sure, I admire Chrissy Hynde, but she doesn’t fascinate me the way some musicians of the opposite gender do. I guess, since I am pretty firmly in the heterosexual camp, it’s a matter of attraction and/or romance. I once read a book about the Laurel Canyon scene in the 1970s that included Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash, James Taylor, etc. One woman interviewed said something like, “I used to think those [songwriters] were super deep and wise and had beautiful minds, but then I realized that they were just guys who had a way with words.” 

I know exactly what that lady is talking about... this tendency to venerate guys like that. And I love how rockers are, on one hand, gritty and wild and (can be) super masculine. AND on the other hand, they can be super sensitive and poetic and vulnerable... Like Axl Rose singing Sweet Child Of Mine, which is, by the way, a killer song. Or grunge-licious Eddie Vedder growling out his pain. Or homely farmer-looking poet Neil Young looking for a Heart of Gold. I am not sure why, but even when some of those guys sport makeup and poofy hair, they exude masculine sexuality to me. 

Tom Petty – born to rock
But I am really digressing here. What I was really trying to talk about is our tendency to over-love pop culture and its icons. I do it, so if I’m pointing fingers, I’m pointing first and foremost to myself. Is it idolatry? Is that why they call pop culture stars “idols” sometimes? I think in my own case, it’s more of a fascination. I’m not really worshipping them... I’m just a consumer of their awesomeness. I mean... their special gifts. 

It’s more silly than anything – this veneration of a TV show or a musician. They are just people with gifts that lie in my area of interest. Take Tom Petty... He’s a good songwriter, and a decent musician, but not a virtuoso or anything... but whenever I have the great privilege of seeing him on stage I am struck by the idea that he was born to do exactly what he’s doing. Which is a little funny because it implies that God makes some people to be rock and rollers. I kind of hope He does. Anyway, some of these people I tend to overlove are just charismatic and and maybe even merely in the right place at the right time. 
Bob Dylan – an actual genius

That said, Bob Dylan is an actual genius. You may think he’s strange; his voice may grate on your last nerve. But go here and read some of these lyrics. If you have any fondness for the English language, you’ll see what I’m talking about. I am not exaggerating. Not even a little bit. The overused word “awesome” also applies. I think even my husband would agree. Or maybe he’d just say that Bob is pretty good.” No, I think he’d agree with my assessment of Bob's genius status.

But for the most part, these people on my pedestals - they’re just people with particular gifts. Are they awesome? Geniuses? Most likely not. And I know this. I know... it’s only rock and roll, but I DO like it.


  1. Tom Petty is an awesome genius. And since you mentioned Patti Smith, I have heard her almost every day! Just heard her cover of the Stones tonight. Oging through a real Neil Young phase lately, too, and Cath has just discovered Guns N Roses. ....waaaaaavelength....