Wednesday, May 16

When Poptomists Attack

Pardon the misleading header (really, aren't poptomists too busy praising ephemera to really lay in wait for rockists and jazzbos so they can drop the hammer down?), but I found these questions from Tom Ewing (via M. Matos) kind of interesting.

1. What moment, or trend or era in music have you felt was most important while it was happening?

The rise of rap from the street to chart topping movement in the mid- to late 80s. It seemed to come out of left field, particularly for suburban America. I was pretty oblivious to hip-hop as culture, because I wasn't privy to it as a all-encompassing lifestyle. It was MTV and Rolling Stone and Top 40 radio shedding light on this "radical" new thing.

2. Have there been any moments you felt at the time were important, which don't seem as important with hindsight.

The mainstreaming of college/alternative rock. When Nirvana broke through in 91 (on the heels of the successful and much more outré Lollapalooza tour) I was a freshman in college. Suddenly, the weirdos and radio geeks were cool, and I rode that wave of popularity for all it was worth (it helped that I already looked the part with my 14" mohawk). It was such a feeling of "We won! We won!" Of course the music, once it shed the bargain basement production and poor distribution, really came to look a lot like the classic rock my friends and I bemoaned in high school. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" wasn't "More Than A Feeling" after all. It revitalized rock music after it had been both lipsticked and emasculated as the 80s ended, but it wasn't the "seismic shift" I thought.

3. When you first became aware of pop music as something which had a history, what seemed to you the most important things in the previous ten years?

It was the early 80s; I was familiar with much of the 60s music from my parents collection, but it didn't fit with what my sister liked in the late 70s (Leif Garrett and Shaun Cassidy are not poart of any continuum I acknowledge). But discovering Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin somehow made me realize that there were big, important artists that filled the gap between The Beatles, Stones and Simon & Garfunkel I knew from my parents and Michael Jackson and Van Halen. Not a continuum of sound, but of dominance, of "import". I didn't really hear punk for several years, though I remember hearing about it. It just didn't exist for me as a pre-teen. Much of my music history was imparted by my cousin Kevin, who was 3 or 4 years older; he played me my first Zep and Hendrix, the B-52s and Talking Heads.

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