Monday, February 13, 2012

And the Granny goes to....

I don't think I've actually watched the Grammys since this speech blew my mind as a young boy:

"I don't know what this means. I don't think it means anything. That's just how I feel," is what Eddie Vedder said in 1996. Perhaps I had the luxury of growing up when MTV was unsuspectingly infiltrated by music that surprised everyone, even the industry, by going to the top of the charts; breaking the dentist-office-and-supermarket-musak tradition of the mainstream. Now it's back to more familiar territory in the post-Beatles, Stones, and Zeppelin age: great music is out there, but it's not on the radio or TV. You find it on the ground, through friends, through the community. Which is perfectly fine.

Last night, as families gathered around their televisions for some wholesome Granny time (no, that isn't a typo), my social media was flooded with praises of Dave Grohl's speech, which always kinda bores me because I've never found Grohl's post-Nirvana work to be worth writing home about, aside from the Foo Fighters' self-titled debut. So I checked it out:

With all due respect to Kurt Cobain's drummer (a role that Grohl has never been able to top), the romanticized illusion Grohl has created with Wasting Light, the latest installment in the Foo Fighters' ongoing saga of post-self-titled-debut unimaginative and conservative rock that suburban parents can listen to with their children, is rather suspect in creating false hopes for bands starting out today. Recorded in the "garage" of Grohl's million-dollar home with Butch Vig, one of the industry's most expensive producers, to analog tape, which is significantly more costly than digital recording in 2012, Wasting Light is hardly a Black Flag record in style, spirit, production value, and, ultimately, budget. It's another case of long-established group of music professionals telling you anything is possible when they emerged at a time when they could fund tours with album sales supported by major-label apparatus and be the subject of grassroots, tape-trading fervor from audiences who were physically present and participated in the consumption of physical products.

It's sad that a band that plays its own instruments is becoming a novelty, and that somehow makes them more "punk" than they would have been in decades past just because of today's fickle landscape. I'll lend Grohl some credence for the spirit in which his speech was delivered, so as not to participate in any divide-and-conquer rituals. It is indeed, as Grohl said, what goes on in our hearts and minds that makes music truly work. But "we couldn't have done it without the greatest (read: and one of the most pricey) producer in the world," is where the ultimate truth -- and catch -- of Grohl's sentiments lie.

His world is not yours, or mine. But maybe it's the thought that counts.