Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday Random Ten

"How'd that get in there?" Edition

1. "Ode to Earl," Bela Fleck
2. "I Thought I Held You," Wilco
3. "A Long December," Counting Crows
4. "Straight A's in Love," Johnny Cash and the Gene Lowry Singers
5. "Lady Love Your Countyside," Sleeper
6. "Thought it Would Be Easier," Shelby Lynne
7. "Glory," Liz Phair
8. "Brown Eyed Girl," Everclear
9. "Metric Lips," New Grass Revival
10. "Spiral," John Coltrane

Ever since I read this post from Peppermint razzing the Transiberian Orchestra and copping to affection for Barenaked Ladies, I've wondered: Why do pop culture snobs (of which I'm one) revel in low culture and recoil at America's middlebrow tastes? Why do I envy my friends' Wacky Packages wall art, but Thomas Kinkade sends me wretching from the room? Why can sit through entire Roger Corman movies but not the "Tell me I'm a good man" coda from Saving Private Ryan?

And why do I proudly acknowledge the presence of Johnny Cash's cornpone dirty joke number in my MP3 collection, but feel like I need to make lame excuses for the Counting Crows song? After all, its a fine, well constructed tune and the line about "the way that light attaches to a girl" is one of the few genuinely poetic flourishes in mainstream rock over the past few years. Yet rock snobs reading this are snickering to themselves, "Dude has two song with Bela on them, but that Crows song is soooo pathetic."

And let's not even mention Everclear's middle-aged-punk-lite update of "Brown Eyed Girl."

4 comments:

grandpaboy said...

I was browsing the book store, and saw that Thomas Kinkade has a novel out.

As for the "middlebrow" dilema, good question. Maybe we hate it because it's too safe?

redhorse said...

you're middlebrow dilemma is interesting, something I've wondered about. I think it merely says this: I reject the commercial sameness of middlebrow, pop culture (and yes, I think they are one and the same).

As for Cash, easy there Pho, else the stable be released upon your visage.

And what does it say of me that I love Cash, think SPR was an great movie, and think James Fennimore Cooper is good reading? Maybe merely that I like what I like? I hope so.

scott bakalar said...

Taste is like eye color - not necessarily genetic - but you really can't do much of anything about it.

You really can't force yourself to like something that doesn't appeal to your inner critic. That is, if we're actually in touch with the Ebert within.

To quote (sort of) redhorse;
"We like what we like"

No more simple - no more complicated than that.

Pho said...

Red -- in the words of Snoop Dogg "I got nothin' but love for Johnny Cash; Johnny Cash is my nephew." I realize calling anything Luther Perkins played on "low culture" puts me on shaky ground, but where else do you put it? Especially this song. Classics like Walk the Line, Folsome Prison Blues and Cry, Cry, Cryput Sun Studios on the map and laid down a blueprint that influenced both rock and country for years. Straight A's in Love presaged The Boy Named Sue. 'Nuff Said.

One possible answer to my question is that truly lowbrow culture -- as opposed to middlebrow that is merely tacky -- seems to me to carry the heft of emotional honesty. Middlebrow tends more toward artifice.