I’m a big believer that the best music ever made is the music being made right now. To believe otherwise is to accept that it’s not worth looking for new music, and I can’t psychologically ken to the fact that popular music’s best days are behind it.
Because of that, I generally hate it when people make statements about “The best music ever was from the ’60s” or “It’s all been downhill since the ’70s” or other such reactionary claims, since I really do believe that there are just as many musical geniuses plying their trades now as there were then, and I view claims to the contrary as nothing more than admissions that the claimant’s musical tastes have ossified, typically around the tunes that defined their teen years.
That said, I am completely loving Dave Thompson’s excellent book I Hate New Music, in which the irrascible rock writer opines that things really are much worse, musically, than they were during the classic rock era bookmarked by Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” and Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town.” It’s an absurb position, but Thompson defends it with such gusto and energy, and with such blindingly snappy writing, that it’s hard not to get sucked into his staunchly anti-modernist worldview.
I’m reading the book at a good time in my own listening, as I’ve been fixating on Fleetwood Mac over the past couple of weeks,, but only on the period between Peter Green’s departure and Buckingham-Nicks’s arrival. This was an era when combinations of Christine McVie, Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch and Bob Weston (with occasional contributions from Jeremy Spencer early on and, briefly, Dave Walker later) defined the front-line, and Mick Fleetwood and John McVie still played with punch and muscle. I’ve had the albums Kiln House, Future Games, Mystery to Me and Bare Trees in heavy rotation, and have been looking for digital (either online or on CD at record stores) copies of Heroes Are Hard to Find and Penguin to complete the set, since I only have them on vinyl, and I don’t have functional turntable anymore. Penguin is generally regarded as the weakest album in the Mac pantheon other than the Bekka Bramlett-Dave Mason fronted Time, but I remember it fondly, and look forward to hearing if my memory is accurate when I finally score a copy.
So as much as I hate look-back bores and as much as I love the new music I found in 2008 and the early days of 2009, I’m running with Dave Thompson this week, hunkering down and digging my tunes from the classic days of classic rock. I’ll take the generally-overlooked Bare Trees or even Penguin any day over the completely-devoid-of-imagination (but Grammy-winning) Coldplay any day, any way.
Take that, modern rock!