Niche upon Niche – pre-Grammy ramblings
Doc Waffles wonders out loud, or maybe tries to trick me, that maybe these early reports of Whitney Houston’s passing might be some hoax and that she’s going to dynamically appear on stage, sometime tonight at the Grammy’s, just as LL Cool J is giving the intro for the Remembrances montage… …a montage that, if they do one, will include Amy Winehouse (who, by the way, is probably going to win a Grammy, as was the prediction of music journalist Gary Graff (interviewed this weekend on Ann Delisi’s essential music).
(Isn’t it eerie, though? -that Winehouse, recently deceased, is nominated for a song in which she sings about giving herself over, “Body & Soul…” Is that too obvious? Someone’s already talked about it by now…)
Doc and I are ping ponging half-cynical quips just minutes before he joins Passalacqua on stage, the whole of the Lager House likely remembering (for the first time in a while) the endemic chorus of Houston’s ’91 hit from The Bodyguard soundtrack, biting in the back of our heads.
Doc, well-read and articulate as ever, has already used the word “totemic” in passing conversation, inside this stuffy bar, before he moves to suggest that our fixation upon Houston, and even upon the Grammys, is tied to our lingering addiction to the empowering buzz of “schadenfreude…”
And as I woke up this morning and listened to Delisi and Graff talk about who might win and also address the echoed gripes against the Grammys and the stomach-churning sense that its rigged or contrived… or whatever… and I felt the acidic upchuck of cynicism gargle up…
How many deluded music-journos and blogoids have already wasted their mornings typing out essays on how the Grammys don’t mean anything anymore… To some of us, telling me that Kanye West is the most nominated artist of 2012, that Adele is about to win every award and that your mom is now probably interested in buying that Mumford & Sons album from Best Buy…all just sounds like a foreign language echoing through a garbled PA… some fuzzy telegraph that I can’t decode from an island I now only gaze at on clear days.
For many of us, we have chiseled ourselves with astounding keenness, nuanced whittling of cultural identity -as defined by our specific consumption.
Bruce Springsteen is having a resurgence? And all these wrong-end-of-65-year-old Beach Boys’ are going to reunite sing about “Good Vibrations?”
I’m more interested in whether or not Passalacqua’s going to get away with showering glitter on the Lager crowd, or if Charlie Slick is going to interpret any of his older songs now that he’s got that jerked-up-guitar contraption roaring through the amps…
I’m interested in when Zoos of Berlin is going to play out live next and I’m interested in whether this new Grimes record is going to hold up and be like this year’s dreamy/dark electro-driving soundtrack ala The XX… or what this group called Francois and the Atlas Mountains is all about, now that Jon Moshier bent my ear by his picking one of their groovy, day-glo evoking space-pop soars for his program.
And Earl Sweatshirt just pressured the Twittersphere into following him by rewarding them with a new song…
There’s all that to sift through.
Some of it is noise and some of it will actually legitimately help me to further define myself as a consumer of culture, to attain, what-?–some kind of musical/cinematic erudition? So that I can sound hip and stylish at the coffee shop? Who knows…
Would it be worth my while to find the new Foo Fighters’ single so I stay on the up-and-up, or should I just sing-a-long to another record’s spin of the Beatles “Twist & Shout?” What’s worthwhile, for me, in the end?
I just know that when I don’t watch the Grammys tonight, Houston, Winehouse, or whoever…Perry or Mars… it won’t be because I’m a snob.
Or at least I’ve worked myself up to this point in the essay to believe that illusion.
No, it’ll be more that I’m just too busy investigating, mining, excavating, exploring all the other avenues, endlessly stretching and blurring by and beyond me, …of where to find the next provocative sound, the next unforgettable/forgettable song.
I can only navigate one niche at a time. And often, that’s on the local level, in a local venue or from a bandcamp or whatever… Each niche… and, let’s say that there’s, by now…
9,743 of them…
…is sustained by its own force now, has its own ecosystem of artists and you can stay in one and stay lost.
Forget that the television is telling you that the Foo Fighters wrote the best rock song of 2012, (if that even translates in the language-spoken in the land of your musical niche), just worry about what feels right for you, what shape your cultural consumption sculpts you into…that’s what has to fit.
It doesn’t have anything to do with being purposefully irreverent, snobby upstarts for the sake of being snobby upstarts, it’s just that right now, I’m more interested in the next song that Doc Waffles is going to write… Or the HandGrenades, or Pupils…or Dark Red.
Or the writers published under [sic], even!
I could go on and on… in this niche.