Over a discussion that wasn’t so much heated as it was characterized by half exasperation and half achievement, I stumbled upon a possible reason why I’ve never liked classic rock. So sue me, I had not heard lots of albums until recently. An album took me by great surprise. Albums surprise me infrequently enough that I hunt down everything ever released by that artist. REM, Palace, the Smiths, Pavement, MazzaCane, and Neutral Milk Hotel all had the same effect.
Only recently, however, has an album surprised me so much that I felt it necessary to begin looking for records in another different arena outside of what I’ve been accustomed to. Coltrane’s A Love Supreme showed me jazz. Dylan’s Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan , Bowie’s Hunky Dory , Royal Trux’s Thank You , and the Stones’ Sticky Fingers allowed me the patience to finally appreciate classic rock. And then I heard Television’s Marquee Moon and realized there were all these albums out there that influenced all my favorite albums that I’d never heard. So I tracked down Nick Drake’s Pink Moon and Syd Barrett’s Madcap Laughs and Big Star’s first 2 albums and Wire’s Pink Flag and the Fall’s Hex Enduction Hour , and now, all I buy are old albums. And for a little while, it pisses me off that I’ve been listening to the Fall filtered through Pavement.
I bring up this point, and this guy I’m talking to agrees and traces Teenage Fanclub back through Big Star and a string of 70’s bands I’ve never heard until he landed on Led Zeppelin and then quickly traces a line from there to the deck of R. Crumb-illustrated blues playing cards I held in my hand, which all had names like Blind Joe Death or the Blind Henry Jug Band. My point is that although I knew that everything is traced back to either blues or bluegrass, it took a really solid example to fully understand and allow myself to like certain things. So when someone like Nod should happen to sound not only like Jon Spencer but also like a part of blues history that Jon Spencer and Nod are trying to keep alive, I can appreciate part of what they are doing. Luckily, I can identify the fact that I find enjoyment in dissecting this very strange form of expression, but I can also stop typing and just sit back with my mouth agape.
Smells Like Records, P.O. Box 6179, Hoboken, NJ 07030