Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A song for every year of my life #11: 1987

Mainstream top 40 radio was at one of its lowest points in 1987. The first half of the 1980s was full of great pop singles, but look at this lackluster collection of overproduced inessentiality. The late 1980s was the first time in my tiny little life that pop radio stopped meaning something to me. I turned off my radio and began listening to a lot of hard rock and metal instead. It would have been a fine choice, except I listened to a lot of shitty metal instead of the good stuff, though I wouldn't figure that out until I became the embittered, prematurely aged curmudgeon of today's future yesterdays of tomorrow today you all know and love/hate/ignore/like/have no opinion about/are planning to kill, cook, and eat. 1987 became an important musical year for me in the mid-1990s, when I discovered a lot of records I missed out on while I was listening to Whitesnake and Faster Pussycat, including the debut albums from Guided By Voices, Eric B. & Rakim, and Public Enemy, Big Black's Songs About Fucking, Negativland's Escape from Noise, Dinosaur Jr's You're Living All Over Me, Prince's Sign O the Times, and Sonic Youth's Sister. And so on.
I did listen to the shit out of one great record in 1987, Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction. "It's So Easy" is a weird song. It doesn't sound like anybody else's stuff, though you can hear the influences, none of which should belong together this cohesively. I don't feel like getting into a debate, internal or otherwise, about the lack of political correctness in the lyrics, because I really don't give a fuck about that shit in art, except when I do. Some of the lines make me wince, but I'm a form and structure guy, not a subject matter guy, and I think it's better to creatively spew your inner dirtbag instead of suppressing it. I just want people to be honest in their work. A lot of hip hop artists are just as sexist but get more of a free pass from cultural critics because of white liberal guilt. It's a lot less complicated for Pitchfork writers, etc., to criticize Axl Rose. I'm off the subject, though. This record is so finely produced compared to the expensive wall of shit, cavernous yet empty sound prevalent in 1987. It's a big rock record, but it's stripped down. The drums sound like drums. The guitars sound like guitars. It hasn't dated like so many records from this time period have dated. These guys had their own thing going. They weren't Poison. I'm still on board. I just don't get tired of this record.

Alternate choice: Butthole Surfers - "Sweat Loaf"
I wish my father would have had this talk with me. I regret too many things I haven't done. For example, I was at the park one day, and I thought maybe I should SATAN SATAN SATAN!

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