The latest issue of Esquire printed a short thing I did called “A Few Music-related Discussion Questions.” I’d originally written a longer piece; below is the full list, including all of the entries that appeared in the magazine as well as those that didn’t make the cut.
A Few Music-related Discussion Questions
There was once a time when we stayed up all night chain smoking and discussing the social application of music, not caring in the least about peripheral issues such as copyright infringement or the industry’s collapsing business model. In a humble effort to redirect our foundering appreciation of music’s cultural relevance, we herewith present this short list of burning topics. Discuss.
Is it possible to issue a call to arms to Generation Apathy and, if so, can a manifesto be any more dickless than John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change”?
In light of such innovations as Facebook and Thomas Friedman, is “World Music” any longer a valid designation?
Is Remi Nicole’s “I prefer Rock N Roll” this decade’s “I Love Rock and Roll”? Or just this year’s “Hey Ya”? [Postscript: I suppose it’s time to admit I was wrong about the explosion in popularity I expected for this single, but it’s still a great song worth youtubing.]
Has hip-hop become that unbearable or have we just grown old and predictable together? Follow-up: Is it possible to be obnoxious and boring at the same time?
How come the best song about Iraq—Andrew Bird’s “How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm?”—was actually written during World War I?
Name a guitarist under 30 who is as good or famous as Hendrix, Page, Townsend, and Van Halen were at age twenty. Explain why you are unable to do this.
Given that they are composed and arranged by some of our most brilliant musicians, shouldn’t movie scores be considered the classical music of our age?
When will the “Imagine Alice Cooper slamming mojitos in Martin Denny’s basement while Dr. Dre and that Feist chick make out in a corner to the sounds of Slash and Shooter Jennings tuning up” form of music criticism fucking die already?
Now that Taco Bell is using Joe Jackson’s “One More Time” to move enchiritos, will the punk generation stand by while its most treasured musical touchstones are raped on the altar of commercialism the way Baby Boomers have already grown accustomed to doing?
Which performer bears more responsibility for the death of jazz: Kenny G or Wynton Marsalis?
Is American Idol successful simply because we like to laugh at pathetic losers, or because it’s almost impossible to find real singers on pop radio anymore?
A. Almost all of us own some Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, or Willie Nelson. B. Or at least appreciate the idea of the aforementioned informing our musical landscape. C. Despite what you may have heard, Nashville is filled with incredibly talented songwriters and musicians. D. And many hot female singers. E. Dierks Bentley is a genuinely likable performer. F. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill openly revile George Bush, so they ain’t all lockstepping Limbaugh slurpers. G. So why do many of you still refuse on principle to listen to country music?
Is the popularity of shuffle the inevitable and perhaps comforting byproduct of a society and political system increasingly paralyzed by random, inexplicable events that render its citizens feeling powerless in the face of their own doomed lives? And is anyone else sick of it yet?