Saturday, November 7, 2015

This Was, Bad Company and Some Other S**t

An old friend has been posting something he calls "100 Greatest Albums Over 100 Days" on his Facebook page. Each day, the cover of an album appears with no commentary, leaving the field open for others to weigh in. I've been watching daily and by Day 10, I realized that this list was strictly personal. This wasn't a list of records based on history, sales or influence. It was a list of my friend's history, his past and the records that were important to him. By Day 20, I realized that any comments would be pointless. I love Led Zeppelin, but they had already appeared three times in the first three weeks and all 20 records were from the mid-70's. (I guess I shouldn't pass judgment for another 50 days, or so.)

Day 33 and Bad Company's "Run With The Pack" appeared. I couldn't hold back. I left what I thought was a respectful comment:

I realize this is your list, so I won't rain on it. And even though I think "This Was" and "Stand Up" and "Benefit" are all better than "Aqualung," at least I understand you choosing "Aqualung." But, Bad Company doesn't even like "Run With The Pack."

I was hoping for a bit of a sparring session. I concluded with a "Carry on," and a smiley face because that's what you need to do on Facebook so people don't unfriend you. (And being "unfriended" is only slightly better than not being "unfriended.")

His response was, "And THAT is why they call it MY list." He went on to say he loves the comments and "Y'all keep comin' back now, ya hear?"  Then, he said "This Was? Better than Aqualung? LOL!"

And that's when I removed myself completely from his thread and his posts. I am fine agreeing to disagree, but a condescending laugh is hardly an invitation to participate.

Now I began to overanalyze my comments. 

Was I condescending? Disrespectful? Is everyone who has an opinion obligated to share it? Should I have let my friend enjoy his 100 days without any negativity? One other fleeting thought was, "You're a fucking arrogant putz for laughing at me and my opinion of Jethro Tull's This Was," but I got over that in 7 hours. He is a friend.

BBJ, who is a friend and occasional contributor, once said both to me and to all of you on the comments page, something like "I have finally learned how to comment." And Jeff K, another friend and contributor, once told me privately that every so often my replies to comments can be off-putting. I've taken both those comments to heart and while I am not perfect, I do try to remain respectful, even when I don't agree with someone. I know I have never laughed at anyone. Even when a friend looked me dead in the eyes and said, "The Beatles are overrated. Their music is simple," I did my best to explain why most of us believe that isn't true. I did not laugh, even after he continued with, "I don't know anything about music. I just know I don't like The Beatles," which to me is a completely different statement than what he expressed inititally. Again, the fleeting thought was "Why are you talking about something you know nothing about?" And again, I let it go, out of respect for my friend.

Back to my "100 Albums" friend for a moment. One last thing I had considered asking him was, "When was the last time you listened to Jethro Tull's This Was? The reason is, back in the day, when we were both coming of age to the soundtrack of FM radio, many of us had no idea Tull even existed before Aqualung, or that Pink Floyd existed before Dark Side Of The Moon. I had a gut feeling that the last time my friend had listened to This Was might have been 40 years ago, when our minds couldn't handle any more than "Locomotive Breath." Was HE talking about something he knew nothing about? I chose not to ask because again, I thought my comment might be off-putting. Suddenly, I'm censoring myself, feeling like every opinion is better left unsaid. 

That feeling stinks.

This blog exists because I love music. I love listening to it, buying it, selling it, talking about it, sharing it and criticizing it. I think all of you feel the same, which is why you remain part of the community. Strong opinions are good. Trolls, assholes and the like, are not.

The same friend who doesn't like The Beatles, likes to say, "The Earth will still be spinning in the morning." (He tosses that out whenever someone gets excited about anything he doesn't get excited about.) It's not untrue. Yes, if my friend loves a Bad Company record that I don't, the Earth will continue to spin. Mets lost the World Series? Most of us woke up the next day. If Leon Bridges sells out every show on his tour, the weather will still be the weather. But then, why care about anything? Let's all sit hooked up to an IV and just wait it out.



Anonymous said...

You always make me think, which is something that can be said for approximately none of the other blogs I haunt; thanks.

I'm more like you--I can (and do) talk about this stuff (music) endlessly, almost as much as my day job (which I love) and where it is my job to talk about stuff I love. And I too wish people could take it as that--talk and discussion and debate and consideration--it's fun. But I too have learned that some people take this shit way, way to personally. Seriously, I get, but personally? I almost lost a friend because I happen to think that the brilliant and talented Neil Young has also churned out a whole lotta crap. I had made him a 3 CD set of hard to find stuff for his birthday which he was delighted by, but titled one of the discs "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing; Ol'Neil Never Could." You woulda thought I shot his dog.

Long way to say, I think what you did is fine, your pal should lighten up--it's music, fer crissake, the elixir of the gods and goddesses--and you rock on.

vanwoert said...

I've always loved the way that Paul Rodgers sang "Love Me Somebody"

buzzbabyjesus said...

I'm learning to comment with differing opinions, and hopefully without condescsion or personal attacks. Lively discourse is fun.

jeff said...

Ok, let's leave aside for a moment your gratuitous reminder that the Mets lost and go on to less important matters.

It seems to me that if a person set up a list the way he has and leaves it open for comments he should expect that some people are going to disagree. Should the disagreement be written respectfully and not seem like it is being dismissive? I think so, especially since these things seem harsher online than they do in person, where old friends can insult each other with impunity and enjoy it. No one wants to feel dismissed in print (and I use the word in print as a substitute for online because print doesn't exist anymore) where it feels worse because you can't really see the intent behind a comment and also because unlike verbal words such dismissals don't disappear into the atmosphere as soon as they're uttered. FB is forever.

People take shots at me all the time, but when they do in my area of expertise they are going to get it back and if they are dismissive I can make them look like idiots real fast. I like disagreement though. When people feel comfortable enough to disagree with each other that's an indication of real respect and of a healthy community.

Having said that, after reading your post a second time, I tried to look at it from his point of view, and even from that perspective it doesn't seem to me that you were out of line at all. If I were familiar with those albums and felt like I wanted to chime in (and had your writing skill) I don't think I would have done it differently. Clearly though, it rankled him, and what happened was you pretty much exposed what his intentions were, not to have a dialogue but to get approval for his cool choices. That's too bad because they way he has drawn it up, the list is an interesting idea and certainly offers a lot for everyone to chew on.

Perhaps though instead of giving up, you could go back at him, restating your point but leavening the atmosphere a little. If he's an old friend it's worth a try because people can take things the wrong way if the comments are not made to their faces and because if he was/is a friend, friends are important, even when they disagree. If he takes you up on it and is willing to engage in more give and take, great. If not, you did your best. I've engaged people before and when it gets hostile, I try to use humor, but if it continues to get bad or gets personal, I have my say more directly and wash my hands of it and that person. I also try to keep my comments to what the person said and not who or what I think they are or why they are saying it. That's usually an invitation to a flame war.

So what it comes down to is people have opinions and they differ. Thank goodness for that. It's only when people are afraid to feel different about something that it becomes an issue for me. I think he owes you an apology, which would do him good, because it brings you and some interesting discussion back to his page, and wasn't that supposed to be the purpose in the first place? If doesn’t, then it’s his loss.

Now, about the Mets....

Bombshelter Slim said...

Gotta agree with you on Tull, hey, Benefit was one of my faves and it wasn't long before I realized it was the beginning of the end! 6 or 7 years later all the other guitarists at "open" jam sessions would bore the shit out of me by playing Aqualung & Thick As A Brick until my head exploded! And, you poor Mets fans, KC beat my Jays too!!

Anonymous said...

The whole problem with comments and texting in general is that you don't get the nuances of meaning from inflections when speaking directly to someone. Like you, I've posted things that I thought were thoughtful and respectful and gotten excoriated.
As to your comments about Bad Company, fuck you! I say that with all due respect and sarcasm.

ag said...

I 'luv ya like a brotha' because you always speak from the heart. I can agree with you sometimes, disagree with you often... but I always respect your opinion and you for having one. Amen.

Anything Should Happen said...

We like a lot of the same things Sal and there are things we disagree on. However, you never fail to be interesting and on any disagreement, you may not have changed my mind, but you've argued your corner beautifully and that's how it should be.

It's a strange old world. As we grew up Jeff Lynne and ELO were the Anti Christ to most as were 10CC, yet now everyone liked them all along and no one dare to say anything different.

We like what we like and we don't like what we don't. Not much changes our mind, but sometimes something does. You have made me listen again to things I never thought I would, I may not have liked them, but I made the effort and that is because I respect your opinion.

William Repsher said...

Most people have no clue what we're talking about and don't care what we think about anything. I'm going through a weird spell now where I'm routinely encountering men in their 50's and 60's carrying on like mental patients over the new Beatles video. Which makes me believe they should be wearing pajamas with feet. Only problem being they're so old now, pretty soon they once again will unironically be wearing pajamas with feet. It just seems crazy to get wound up over decades old music. The simple fact that we're all still talking about in any respect is a pretty good sign.

I think that's what put me off, too, with the recent Costello memoir ... he's so selectively and purposely tasteful, to a fault, an irritating fault. I would have loved to have read, "I was at an awards show in Toronto where I found myself hanging out with Mike Reno of Loverboy and oddly enough finding him good company." Or "I always thought Steve Perry was 10 times the singer I was or ever will be." But you'll never read shit like that coming from him. ABBA makes it in under the wire, for reasons that I don't understand, save it's always been a hipsterish sort of thing to like ABBA in spite of your self-elevated cool factor.

I'm pretty kosher with any opinion. And think I'm more comfortable with people chasing me down the street with pitchforks and torches than praising me. But even that desire to piss people off has worn way down over the years, which I'm sure is a good and bad thing. I can handle any sort of opinion ... it's when people get nuts with the quality of their lives and how they handle other people that I find myself getting bamboozled, i.e., people I thought would be along for the ride for life bailed along the way for various odd reasons, most of which I can't quite figure out. And it seems pretty random, not something anyone could have predicted. But that's part of the deal. Say goodbye to Hollywood!

jeff said...

getting measured for new pajamas.

dogbreath said...

As your Thomas Jefferson once said: "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend". And I'm sure he would have applied the same sentiment to a Top 100 Albums list! And, anyway, I've loved "Run With the Pack" and "Aqualung" from the first day I dropped the needle on those albums 2 or 3 hundred years ago - and I don't care who knows it!

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Shop talk about music and musical tastes can be very tricky. I find that musical taste is somewhat analagous to people's assesment of their own driving skills: it's a facet that most everyone over-estimates. Overly pop on one end of the spectrum, overly elitist on the other. Those two poles, and most everyone in between, I'm sure, feel that their own blend of preferred music is, without question, the best. Life's rich pageant.

Communicating about music can be a fraught enterprise. Carelessly critique music that someone really loves and it's like you called their kid ugly. Not excepting myself from this, either.



mauijim said...

I too have learned to keep my opinions to myself after a neighbor has argued for years that Michael Jackson was more influential than Elvis following MJ's death.
Really? Am i wrong here? I understand generations differences when my son thinks
Radiohead's Ok Computer tops the Who's next as the greatest album of all time. But hating Elvis seemed to have past after his ex wife took over his estate and RCA spent some money on his catalog. Thanks Greg Geller and now Ernst Jorgensen.
looking forward to the love/hate

Sal Nunziato said...

The thing I struggle with is my feelings towards the legends- Elvis, The Beatles, etc.--and those who just don't see or hear why all of it is important. I don't really care if your 25 or 75, if you're serious about music, you shouldn't dismiss the past or ever use term overrated. I'll take someone 25 years old saying "OK Computer" is better than "Who's Next." I don't agree, but I get it. I will not accept "The Beatles are overrated. Or anyone who laughs at Elvis.

One friend and loyal reader is a huge Moody Blues fan, a band I have never liked. As a matter of fact, it's more than just not liking them. But I respect my friend's taste and have often asked for suggestions, so I can hear what he hears. I've asked the same of fans of Teenage Fanclub and Robyn Hitchcock. Years of trying, I don't like any of these people. I just don't see the point in making anyone who likes these artists feel badly about it.

As Jeff K said: "People take shots at me all the time, but when they do in my area of expertise they are going to get it back and if they are dismissive I can make them look like idiots real fast."

I think we all have a caustic side. I know I do. But I see no reason to use it against people who make the effort. People need to see the difference between real comments and those that are made to just wind people up.

Chris Collins said...

The whole idea of leaving a list like that on Facebook IS to argue with people! that's how it should be! I would welcome comments like that . If the list was JUST for him he would play these albums at home or in his car. By posting and making the list public he is asking for people to weigh in.

And yes, sometimes personal taste is personal taste. But that's what makes this fun. It's great to have opinions. It's great to argue. That's the whole idea.

Sal Nunziato said...

Let me be clear, my friend was welcoming comments, as long as they all said, "Great choice!" If you said, "You know, I prefer this over that," he'd tell you you were wrong.

Anonymous said...


I think we all have a caustic side. I know I do. But I see no reason to use it against people who make the effort. People need to see the difference between real comments and those that are made to just wind people up.

I thnk those thoughts are the crux of the matter. You weren't winding him up but seeking a dialog of sorts. By not posting any of his own thoughts about the albums, it's clear he's not really interested in having a conversation. His mind is already closed.

Also, tone is extremely difficult to ascertain in the age of the Internet comment zone. I have stepped in it on occasion without intent and have learned to avoid certain people/family members/subjects on various sites to avoid doing so in the future.

Life's too short.

Michael D.

Anonymous said...

still shaking my head over anyone choosing BadCo as the particular hill they want to die on. I like a song or two from each of their albums, too, but I think for this guy "Running with the Pack" must be strongly connected to a certain place and time.

Now BTO's 2nd, THAT was a great album.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh, the Elvis haters. A sad, ill-informed bunch. Years ago, a gal wrote to the SF Chronicle to accuse Elvis of (wait for it) ripping off black music, invoking the names of Roy Brown, Lightnin' Hopkins and T-Bone Walker as some of the rock-n-roll artists evil Elvis stole from.
I did something I've done maybe 4-5 times in my life: Wrote a letter to a publication. They printed it, and here it is (minus my name & contact info at the bottom).

September 10, 2002
Editor – I’ve got another rock n roll pioneer, besides Roy Brown, with which letter-writer Sharon Barnett (Datebook Letters 9/8/02) is apparently unfamiliar: Elvis Presley. Really – she should pick up a copy of Elvis’ Sun Sessions material – his earliest – and hear/see that there’s as much country as R & B influence on it, not to mention the influences of pop and the gospel Presley sang in church. But it’s simpler for folks like Barnett to endlessly parrot what they’ve been told, in this case by similarly-ignorant people trying to appear knowledgeable and/or PC. I have not a single Presley recording where his voice sounds black, and my collection of black and white Southern and Appalachian artists goes back to the 1920s. But even if Elvis WAS influenced by the black music around him – and clearly he was – why is this bad? Should he have hewed to Barnett’s seemingly racist idea of musical purity, wherein white folks listen to and play “white” music only, and black folks stick to “black” music? Tell that to Leontyne Price (opera), Charley Pride (country), Bad Brains (punk), or all the other countless musicians through history who played and sang what they wanted because they weren’t mired in Barnett’s mindset. They are the ones who keep music a vital, ever-growing artform.
Elvis’ original combo WAS the architect of rock n roll, which does nothing to diminish the genius of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, or any of the other artists there at the beginning (I doubt that Lightnin’ Hopkins or T-Bone Walker would’ve called themselves rock n roll artists). Presley has sold more records than all those artists combined, inspired a cult that goes strong still, and kick-started a youth revolution -- any one of which would make him a cultural force to be reckoned with. That he's done all three makes him the King.
And lest it appear that I'm a rabid Presley fan, I happen to have more Chuck Berry music than Elvis Presley music in my collection.

The only addendum I could add is that, since I wrote that letter, I've acquired more Bo Diddley in my collection than Elvis and Chuck combined.
C in California

peabody nobis said...

Hello Sal,
Just to add my two cents...Anyone who says they don't like the Beatles cannot be taken seriously as a music lover. It's the kind of bold statement designed specifically to get a rise out of others, unlike saying that you don't like "Run With The Pack", which is a wholly forgettable record. Bad Company lost their mojo after "Straight Shooter", IMHO.
Yes, taste is subjective, but talent and quality is not.
And in response to "C in California" regarding Elvis-I think the problem that the Elvis bashers have is the amount of money he made recording their music. I imagine the problem lies in the publishing rights; they gave them up in order to make their records. That's not Elvis' fault.
At least he didn't screw them up, a la Pat Boone.