Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Black Licorice

I hate Lynryd Skynyrd. I could not go to a party, to a friend’s house, anywhere, for years, without hearing goddamn “That Smell,” or goddammitydamn “Freebird.” The whole guitar-noodling thing, the deedada deedada deedada of guitar wankery. Stupid the sound, stupid the attitude, stupid the posturing, stupid the stupid.

I hate Lynryd Skynyrd. But not as much as I hate The Doors. I really hate The Doors. Lynryd Skynyrd had one song I could tolerate, “You Got That Right,” though I suspect that toleration had more to do with one Charlotte Gramercy and a weekend in West Virginia than with the song itself, but there is not one single Doors song that doesn’t compel me to change the station or leave the room. “Mama, I want to mmmwah,” screams Jim Morrison, thinking he’s revealing depths of the human condition. I really hate Jim Morrison. Jim Morrison gave bad poetry a bad name. The music is worse. God I hate The Doors.

One of my three or four favorite albums of the recent past is Z from My Morning Jacket. There are many influences heard on Z, but two, the most prominent, are Lynryd Skynyrd and The Doors. What do I make of this? *

90% of the music I hear (and the books I read and the people I meet) I like or dislike with varying intensities of indifference. Of the remaining 10% that I either love or hate, I find what I hate to be more fascinating than that that I love. I suspect that although both the love and the hate are self-evident to me, I find the need to explore that which I hate more urgent than exploring what I love.

Part of that is trying to reconcile the arbitrariness of my tastes with a compulsion for consistence. If I hate The Doors, if I hate Lynyrd Skynyrd, if I love My Morning Jacket’s Z, am I open-minded or logically wobbly? I don’t feel obliged to dislike a band influenced by bands I hate, but I do feel a disconnect. Compound that with my natural and opposite instincts towards coherence and frustrating that coherence, and there’s the paradox.

One thing I have learned over time: if I hate a band (or a book or a person) like I hate black licorice, I need to examine what it is I hate because something interesting is going on. There is a difference between hate and contempt. Contempt takes no energy, no time, no effort. Nobody sounds like The Doors but The Doors, but there are a kazillion bands that sound like Franz Ferdinand, who I don't hate, don't consider worth hating. Which means something.

Have I mentioned I hate Mozart?

* Do go to MMJ website where you can hear two of the songs from Z, but unfortunately not my favorite, the glorious “Gideon,” which I read as the most magnificent anti-war song I’ve heard from this current generation. I may be wrong on the anti-war, but I’m positive about the magnificence.

MMJ’s Z has been heavily reviewed, heavily praised. Here, here, and here, and elsewhere.

The singer’s voice, goodness, the singer’s voice. Really, a remarkable album from a remarkable band. No one sounds like them. I suspect somewhere someone really hates them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ, stop whining. So you hate two rock bands? Boo hoo. Get over it. Rock wouldn't be the same without those two bands.

Damn, you're whiny.

1:00 PM  

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