Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where is our Abbey Road?

I thought this was an interesting article:

Feel free to skip the lower portion of the article, in which the author describes at length the process of his re-discovery of the Beatles. What I thought was most interesting was that the top-selling album of the "aughties" was from a band that broke up 40 years ago.

Well, it got me thinking. Because I have been spending the last month or so listening to new music and trying to come up with my top picks of 2009. Music I'd been told about and music I'd read about. And although I can come up with a few really good albums, I'm having trouble thinking of the last time I heard anything "classic." And when I say "classic," I don't mean something that I think is great, but rather something that I think will be listened to in 40 years and considered with the kind of reverence bestowed upon those classics that I just mentioned. By comparison, I think "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" was great, but R.E.M.'s "Automatic For the People" is classic.

Forty years from now, what will be our "Abbey Road" or "Dark Side of the Moon" or even "Velvet Underground and Nico"?

My preference would be to say "Kid A" or Brian Wilson's "Smile," but realistically, those are far too eccentric to have the mass appeal that a classic really needs.

Incidentally, Rolling Stone has put out their Top 100 Best Albums of the Decade:

I'm sorry, but I just can't really put much stock in a list like this where the top 25 includes 3 raspy-voice Dylan albums; 2 each of past-his-prime Springsteen, U2, and Jay-Z; and one Coldplay. Call me biased (or maybe just hopeful), but wasn't there more interesting music in the last decade than these bands?

1 comment:

Patrick said...

The music scene these days is waaay different than it was in the Beatles' day. Not only is there FM radio, but several hundred specialized XM radio stations, plus the internet, iTunes, MySpace, blogs, etc, etc, etc.

I think over the past decade, we've seen the music landscape broadened and fractured to the point where it's going to be hard to have that "classic" that spans all genres.

I wouldn't consider Smile as one, since its genesis was in the 60's (sorry Brian). I like Kid A (topped KEXP and RS) ten years later, but are my kids going to enjoy it 30 years from now? I think it'll sound dated (and so will Yoshimi).

Abbey Road, Joshua Tree, Automatic For The People, those don't sound dated.

Maybe Green Day's American Idiot? Or Outkasts' Speakerboxx/The Love Below? Both of those were big hits both commercially and critically, the latter got me somewhat interested in rap/hip-hop for the first time in forever.

To a lesser degree, maybe the Strokes, or Coldplay's Parachutes, or Postal Service? Not enough across-the-board appeal, though.

Maybe in this age of buying single songs as you go, and people creating playlists ad nauseum, that choosing a soundtrack as "classic" might be more appropriate. We're talking about commercial appeal through a movie, and critical appeal through the music. Soundtracks have always been around: Beatles and S&G did 'em. Maybe we'll sit around 35 years from now and still listen to the Garden State soundtrack?