clap clap blog: we have moved
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
a little bit more on regionalism
Jesse replied to my Power Pop post (Power Pop Post!!! Oh man, that's a Zippy phrase right there) which reminded me that Simon Reynolds also has an interesting post on regionalism (currently the last one on his page, from 4/6/03, or archived here, although the blighter doesn't keep 'em up) which is probably worth reading--he advances the idea of pirate radio as folk music. I had two more things to add myself, though.
First: I know I said that the fact that music just sounds better in certain places (and, as Jesse points out, historical contexts) can be used to justify a certain kind of snobbery, but let me clarify. I think the point people miss when they employ that kind of value judgment (i.e. "My blues is better than your blues because I grew up in Memphis") is that it's not so much where you make it, but where you listen to it. A blues song recorded at the Hit Factory might sound as good as a Muddy Waters tune if they're both coming out of a transistor radio besides the Mississippi. At least, that's true if you're going by my crackpot theory.
The other thing is that this needn't necessarily be applied only to traditionalist or purist kinds of genres. For instance: electroclash. I know, I know, we all hate it, and we hate the Williamsburg hipsters, but the fact remains that when listening to electroclash in, say, Club Luxx, if you're in the right state of mind (read: high or drunk) and you're able to get over your annoyance, the music sounds really fucking good. And it may only sound really fucking good in a club in Williamburg, or a few other similar places. That's maybe why it inspires such hatred and confusion everywhere else in the world. I mean, you can make fun of the kids all you want for dressing up and throwing stupid parties and doing lots of coke, but in a certain way it's a very collective thing: everyone gets over their self-consciousness and dresses up because when everyone's dressed up and looking fabulous and ridiculous and there's this fabulous ridiculous music playing and you've done a few lines of coke, everyone feels great. So it's snobbish to say, "Oh, you just don't get electroclash because you're living in Atlanta," but is it any less snobbish than saying "you don't get country because you're not from the midwest" or "you don't get hip-hop because you're not black"? Moreoever, is it any less true? I dunno, and this is all weirdly making me like electroclash more. See it as a local, participatory genre in which everyone pretends to be famous not because they are famous but because it's just more fun that way, and it sounds a lot more...well, crap, egalitarian. I think people take it too seriously--they're pretending they're hip not because they want to be better than you, necessarily, but because it's more fun that way. If you don't like it, that doesn't make you un-hip, it just makes you a hipster who doesn't like electroclash.
Brr, better back off from this conclusion, eh? I'm gonna lose all my cred!