Usually, I don’t watch the Grammys, but stumbled upon this year’s show. After the Kanye West “incident” at the Grammys, I’ve had this Beck song “Where It’s At” in my head, constantly. And that’s a good thing. Beck is “where it’s at!” A real artist. Original, honest. I feel the truth in his work. I’ve been into him for years.
It makes me want to pull my own teeth out when I hear pop entertainers, who need more than five people to work on one dumbass and hackneyed song, proclaim that they’re artists. While some true artists find their way into the hearts of the masses – Sly Stone, Prince, Stevie Wonder — having a fan base made up solely of the masses makes you nothing more than a commercial product. A writer for ‘Black Voices’ in the Huffington Post spoke of “socially constructed” pop stars, specifically referring to Beyonce: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-lute/dangerously-in-denial_b_6666334.html. But some pop stars do transcend into another strata because of the phenomenon of deification, when the masses turn you into a goddess or a god.
I wonder if Kanye West will ever see the error of his obnoxious ways. I kind of feel sorry for him, because I can see his desperation in trying to be “an artist”. But I don’t see where he actually is an artist. After the thing he pulled on Beck, and after reading about some of his delusional quotes, he just looks like a big baby, pathetically clinging to fame. And I wish people would stop patronizing him saying he’s a madman, implying some kind of genius. He’s someone interested in making a whole bunch of money who started believing in their own hype, and in what the masses were saying to him. Because he does have the support of the commercial industry and of the masses — pop entertainer clout — people who follow trends, and whatever pabulum happens to be marketed to them will be interested, no matter that it’s common bullshit. I don’t have a problem with common bullshit, and I like a lot of pop music. While I appreciate originality more, lying on the floor while performing doesn’t make you avant-garde, if what you’re singing or rapping about is common. Oh well, keep trying.
What do you all think about Kanye West interrupting Beck’s moment at the Grammys?
Now, this Beck song – it’s where it’s at!
A jazz trio played in the garden where I work. They were the real deal, not one of those easy listening, ersatz jazz groups you hear in elevators and hospital waiting rooms. I’m not a jazz fan but the few pieces I like are hard core and abstract. I went home and tried out some jazz on Pandora. I inserted a Theolonius Monk station right above my Obituary death metal station. I listened for a few minutes before inserting a John Coltrane station right underneath that. I listened to that for a bit. Nah.
I felt like a pretentious bourgeois wannabe listening to it. Ironic since this music started out as edgy and was created by oppressed black people. I relate to death metal more than I do to jazz. I get the feeling that some people listen to it because they think it’s what sophisticated, intellectual, or middle-class people of a certain age are supposed to listen to. I know there are genuine enthusiasts but I wonder about the rest. I appreciate the great jazz artists, but these days I think a lot of people attach it to the complacency of the “good life,” while it used to be associated with the avant-garde and artists or people who were on the edge. I don’t want to get into politics so I won’t elaborate on what I think is wrong with the concept of the “good life.” People can create a cocoon for a moment in time but there’s always some threat hovering over it.
As a black person, dirty road house blues music does it for me. It’s the music I relate to. These people remind me that the good life is a fucking illusion. It reminds me of my forefathers in the strain and toil of the cotton fields. I appreciate the beauty in every group. I just love the pathos of being black and I appreciate being part of the African Diaspora. So my rejection of jazz for the most part has nothing to do with me denying part of my heritage or whatever.
Life is life and sometimes while life is being life you still have to do shit you don’t want to do, like dishes, laundry, vacuuming. There are job decisions I have to make. And at my age it’s scary, but I don’t have any choice. As soon as I finish reading the proof copy of my book I have to get on with this task. This is why I’m moving slowly as I alluded to in previous posts. I’m afraid of what’s on the other side. And oy gevalt — I have oral surgery issues! Though I have insurance it still means more pain and more money. It’s overwhelming. So, to aid me in my day to day tasks when it gets rancid, I listen to my death metal station on Pandora as I wash dishes, throwing them from the sink to the dish rack, angrily. The music makes me feel like I’m not alone in my existential mire. I’m not always like this, but, hmmm…. I wonder. Maybe I’m just angry because the people who run the good life won’t let me in. Eh?