Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Simon Reynolds' "Retromania"


I think "Retromania" is the best music book of the 21st Century so far.  But of course I am not including the great rock n' roll memoirs, but just talking about "music books" as a cultural thing.  And this is a very important book to me, with respect to how music fans react to pop in general.  If you are like me, a long term fan of pop music and its trends,  and you are middle-aged, one thing comes to mind.  There is nothing new happening in contemporary music.  In fact its a shocking fact.  If i get a buzz on something that's out there, more likely it came from the distant past - the 60's or 50's even.
Simon Reynolds doesn't have an answer for all of this, but he is the first writer of my generation to comment on how pop is just plain old.  And old is not really bad, but...its still old!  Reynolds even goes beyond music and into fashion as well.  His knowledge of pop culture is right on the dot, with respect to him focusing on various trends and readings on contemporary culture.  I also find his writings on the download culture fascinating.  And if you are a music fan, one can imagine that one is busy downloading as fast as they can, but more likely not hearing everything.  So therefore we're hording music instead of enjoying and thinking about music.  And is this a good thing?  Most say no, but habits are hard to break.
What i do know is that the shock of the new probably won't happen to me in my life time.  I remember certain records giving me that 'wow.  The Yardbirds double A single of "I'm a Man' and "Still I'm Sad."  The first Roxy Music album.  And the Kinks "Village Green Preservation Society."  The first listening of those records put me into the 'now.'   And that is what's missing in my listening life right now - the 'now' factor.
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