Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Important than U2

This is a repost of a comment on my brothers blog where he dared anyone to list 12 more important bands than U2. I thought at first it was a dare to limit your list to 12, but apparently he thought you couldn't come up with 12. I came up with 22 off the top of my head. And I took it serious so I didn't include Paris Hilton or anything like that on the list. And he said Bob Dylan was not to be included because he is too near divine. Anyway, here's my comment.

I can list 4 gabillion bands more important than U2 right now. In fact, I can only think of one band less important than U2 and that is Copeland. But here is an honest list of 12 bands that are not only better but doing things that matter in music as opposed to riding the exercise bike of U2 paint-by-numbers music writing. And, to be fair, I will limit myself to very few alt. folk acts, focusing on the rock and roll that U2 supposedly dominates. (also why you see no Kanye or Outkast on this list, though both are clearly more important than U2) You’re welcome. And these are in no particular order.

1. Yo La Tengo: They have been doing rock and roll forever too, only they learned how to write different types of songs, create musical complexity, and not believe they were the greatest thing ever. Their new CD coming out soon is more important than the last 4 released by U2.

2. White Stripes: Jack White is to rock and roll what Ty from Extreme Home Makeover is to homes.

3. Devendra Banhart and his friends: now you may say “but jake, this guy is alt. folk, not rock and roll” but you are wrong. DB and his friends (i.e. Andy Cabic’s band Vetiver) are reworking rock from the folk end of things, similar to Dylan’s impact on rock and roll, and are writing compelling songs and putting on amazing concerts all over the world.

4. Broken Social Scene: Can you say supergroup? While their first effort was good, they regrouped, got even more super, and released a self-titled album the way any good rock and roll group would. They rock AND write music that makes you think, imagine that!

5. The National: While they may have come around too late in life to make an eternal impact on the rock and roll scene, these guys put out an album (Alligator) that any U2 fan would love and would probably think was awesome and they are nobodies!

6. Arctic Monkeys: I don’t even really like these guys, but they are the hottest brit act coming to the shores of the USA and they just won the Mercury Prize for best album from English or Irish artists, so eat that U2!

7. Arcade Fire and friends: Again, I’m not even crazy about them (though I did enjoy Arcade Fire for a few months of winter dreariness and for this I am forever thankfull) but any fool can realize that what they are doing for music is more important and creative than the last 10 years of U2. AND they were on the cover of Time. AND U2 likes them as much as your little sister.

8. Belle & Sebastian: Sometimes you have to go back in time to be progressive and interesting. These guys are making the retro thing work and using it to find new roads for rock and roll

9. THE NEW PORNOGROPHERS: Maybe the greatest Rock and Roll band going today? A super super group who are always making hits and may someday take over the world.

10. MODEST MOUSE: If I were ranking these, they would be in the top 3 for sure. They are the new Radiohead in that they have taken their “indie rock” and made it main stream. AND JOHNNY FREAKING MARR IS NOW IN THE BAND!! Has this gone unoticed by everyone? Perhaps I should explain, briefly, that Johnny Marr was the musical mind behind The Smiths and if I need to explain further you need to buy some new CDs starting with The Queen Is Dead.

11. Animal Collective: If you think U2 is the most important thing in the world you will probably hate Animal Collective. But they are the psyche-rock leaders of the 21st century. And you may think they are awesome even if you don’t do acid. Check out Feels if you want something different, a lot of people have decided to like them who I never would have expected to. BUT even if you don’t like them, they are more important than U2.

12. THE FLAMING LIPS: This just proves that I am not ranking these 12 more important rock bands than U2. These guys have U2 cornered in every way except maybe friendships with African diplomats. Everyone says that U2 live is one of the greatest experiences you could ever have. I ask you: do they have people in animal suits, confetti, giant balloons, etc.? People say that they were inovative in their recordings, but I ask you: have they ever released a CD that required you to play four different CDs simultaneously on four different CD players? And everyone says that Bono is the greatest front man in rock, but again, I ask you: does he ever smear fake blood on himself to add to the dramatics of the song, or has he ever filmed a Christmas movie in his backyard, or even once made an accoustic guitar into a sound effects machine? I DON’T THINK SO!

Here’s 10 more that I would include: Sufjan, Iron & Wine, Band of Horses, Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, Bruce Springsteen, Akron/Family, Howe Gelb, The Rolling Stones (still), Bright Eyes, Sleater-Kinney, Wilco.

20 Comments:

At 9/06/2006 4:10 PM, Anonymous dave said...

Would it be possible to give more meaning to the word "important?" Was he saying bands that have had a greater impact on music? Bands that are more popular? Bands that have had more influence on pop culture? Bands that have a greater humanitarian impact? Bands that are more iconic? Many of your bands qualify for some of these but not others. I would like to create a list, but I need to clarify important first.

btw...nice to have you posting again jake! did I just write btw?

dave

 
At 9/06/2006 11:23 PM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

Despite the fact that you did write btw I will reply!

There were no qualifications put on "important," thus I took the liberty to let it mean all of the above but mostly focusing on important to rock and roll as music/awesomeness. Maybe Andy will have the good graces to come on here and further explain what he meant by important. I suggest making a list of your own under any meaning of important you see fit!

 
At 9/07/2006 9:35 AM, Blogger Jeff BBz said...

hmm, yes it is indeed an insane suggestion that U2 would be anywhere near the top 12 important bands/musical acts (maybe 100 or 300?). in addition for a band to be imporant should not be constricted to genre because if a you can really say something like, "this band is good for a rock band but not compared to other things", then either that band sucks bad or the whole genre is worthless or probably both.

however, i don't throw U2 out the window completely because back before they ate themselves with insane stardom, sucky songs, vague christianity/humanitarianism, they could have been something important, and they wrote some things of note. (mostly beginning and completely ending with joshua tree, which even if you don't like you should accept at least for daniel lanois and brian eno being sweet producers) And during the eighties when the world was different, where attitude was perhaps as important as the music, they were young and fresh and filled with good things and plenty of mistakes, but good mistakes.

could they have been important then? maybe. are they important now, for all time, eternally? probably not, as negated by the past nearly 20 years of nonsense and world saving. No they didn't change from some awesome bound fabled youth, they ran thier natural course and became rich and famous and adults and all of those lead you in one direction unless you are just insanely very very strong and talented and that direction is crap crap crap. the potential to suck was always there and they eventually captured it and ran with it like never before (not really. most musicians seem to not know when to quit, which is why doing drugs in order to die early is an important part of being an important musician/band)

so maybe i will make list if i get time, but it would be so big. if we were making an awesome album list then maybe i would put joshua tree on it. but band, probably not.

if U2 is important for anything it is leading all kinds of youth pastors and "hip" adults deep into the folds of confusion, and i guess trying to cancel the debt of africa (which is another post)(and which my friend justin is trying to do for iraq but i guess he doesn't have the right sunglasses or nickname)

finally, i feel quite confident that arctic monkeys are not and will not become important or awesome.

and now for an assertion everyone will refute:
Danielson is one of the Most important and awesome bands ever!!!! booyah!

 
At 9/07/2006 10:55 AM, Blogger Dusty said...

Danielson I could agree with...And I really don't like their music a whole bunch, but when you bring Sufjan to the world, that has to count for something. Plus, that documentary was awesome!

 
At 9/07/2006 12:18 PM, Blogger Andy said...

I have to say that I didn't dare people to come up with 12 that are more important than U2, I said come up with the 12 most important (that could include U2, although apparently it doesn't for most people).

We actually discussed the idea of importance and Britton (the originator of this conversation) really didn't know what he meant by important either... so let's agree that important means this (from dictionary.com)

1. of much or great significance or consequence
2. mattering much (usually fol. by to)
3. entitled to more than ordinary consideration or notice
4. prominent or large
5. of considerable influence or authority, as a person or position
6. having social position or distinction, as a person or family
7. pompous; pretentious

 
At 9/07/2006 1:53 PM, Blogger Dusty said...

well, outside of important being pompous, I think you really have to see that their are not even 12 important bands in the world.

I guess I would stick by the following: Deathcab, Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, and Sufjan Stevens. Radiohead would likely count as well...so, there, 5 and for the fun of Danielson...

 
At 9/07/2006 4:41 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Microphones?

 
At 9/08/2006 1:12 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

Best debate ever!

I disagree with just about everything Paco said, with this one exception:

"if U2 is important for anything it is leading all kinds of youth pastors and "hip" adults deep into the folds of confusion, and i guess trying to cancel the debt of africa (which is another post)(and which my friend justin is trying to do for iraq but i guess he doesn't have the right sunglasses or nickname)"

Also, good job explaining things brother, you're the best. I think a list of the 12 most important based on the last definition would be really interesting but would require information I am not privy too.

 
At 9/08/2006 1:33 AM, Blogger Dusty said...

If it was based on the 6th definition, that of being an a family of noteriety...than we would have to name the Wallflowers Natalie Cole, Roseanne Cash and Tal Bachman...

See, who would have thought that important could be this cool!

 
At 9/08/2006 10:03 AM, Anonymous dave said...

Speaking of the best ever...Bob Dylan's new album debuted at #1 on the billboard list, making him the oldest artist to ever debut at one. He is 85 years old!! Dylan is immortal.

Oh, and I wrote my list of 12 most important bands ever and then closed the wondow before sending it. So it is lost forever. oh well. I doubt I could recreate anything quite as masterful.

 
At 9/09/2006 6:26 AM, Blogger Jeff BBz said...

i agree with most of what i said, and in addition, i agree with jim about the microphones. although perhaps "incredible genius" would better suit them than "important." and i am soo jealous that you saw the danielson doc, dusty! AUUGH! Finally important is a fairly stupid word, and i refuse to make a list. and bob dylan as a person or feeling or movement or something like that i can agree with, but i really really don't care at all about his music except that bootleg thing with johnny cash that jake gave me, and thats probably because of ol johno. many times i think, "yeah, bob dylan, yeah!" but then i go listen to him and i just get bored and change it almost immediately. if someone thinks i am insane and would like to make me a cd with some "essential" bob dylan songs then i am willing to give it a try.

 
At 9/09/2006 5:57 PM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

Jeff BBz:

You couldn't be more wrong about Bob Dylan. And, no offense, but this is the exact same line you give me about any good classic rock. Remember our conversation about YES and you saying they were a joke and not good and boring and then enjoying their music when you finally sat down and heard what I was talkin about? Well Bob Dylan is better than them. Next time you are in America I will help you out on this one, cutting right to the best records he has made. His music is far far far far far better than him as a movement or idea or something.

 
At 9/09/2006 8:09 PM, Blogger jonny said...

I think it's interesting how "most important" means different things to different people. Take Jake, for instance, for whom most important means "most likely to rock your face off in a way that your face has never been rocked off before" (paraphrasing, naturally). And by that definition, his list is mostly dead on. U2 may, at times, still rock. But they have not, since 1987, rocked faces in ways never before rocked. So by that definition, U2 haven't been important in nearly 20 years, no matter what record sales or the ass-hat Grammy's say.

But while that definition is a good one, as Dusty has pointed out, it's inherently subjective (not all people's faces, sadly, rock off to the sounds of Yo La Tengo). And I'll take that one step further -- it's inherently elitist as well. Not just merely in a "I'm fooking awesome and my bands are fooking awesome, too" kind-of-way, but in a chronological way as well. Like Paco pointed out to Paula Trimpe's face, that's chronological snobbery. Just because a band is "important" now, doesn't make their importance any greater than bands from the past. In fact, I would argue that the importance of an artist like Bob Dylan is so pervasive that even his recordings of 40 years ago still actively affect everything that's written and sung today. Which we'll get back to in just a minute.

My own interpretation of "most important rock bands" would have to be very close to Jake's definition, but using a wider window of time than just "since I got into pop music." Maybe Jake, because of his past expertise with both classic rock and hard-core, was loathe to go down that road for fear of who might make his list. I don't know. But I can't hear "most important rock bands" without images of John, Paul, George and Ringo rocking out at Candlestick Park simultaneously popping into my head. That's just the way I'm wired, I guess. As Jake can attest, I'm a sucker for serious bouts of pop nostalgia. Maybe it's the moon, but I go through periods where all I want to hear are pre-WWII folk/blues, or golden age hip-hop, or nascent rock and roll from roughly 1955-1964.

Now I realize that Andy originally posed the challenge as "who are the 12 most important bands today?" But like I said, the importance of some bands reaches so far and so wide, that even if they haven't recorded a single song in 30 years, their impact on pop music can still be felt and heard every time you go to a rock show. So it's odd to me that not many people were quick to name bands from the 60s and 70s, literally the birth and teenage years of the rock 'n' roll era. If we're talking about important bands who are still playing rock and roll (as seems to be the case from the context of Andy's original post), then most of these "oldies" bands get booted off the list. If we're talking important bands that have been, and still are, playing important rock and roll, then it's painfully obvious that U2 cannot be part of that Top 12 list (and instead, we would get a list of bands such as Uncle Tupelo/Wilco, the Flaming Lips and Sonic Youth).

But I'm not going to go either of those ways. Instead, I'm going to go with my first instinct, and list some bands who've changed the face of rock music in ways that make it unimaginable to even think of what the pop landscape would be without them. Too often we let the immensity of these bands get in the way of talking about them as bands we get a kick out of in the here and now. But that's crap. Their musics are as visceral and immediate as anything being produced today. It's not that they're timeless. It's just that they're that good.

So because I love lists, and since I'm also rereading High Fidelity once again at the moment, I'm going to call myself this blog's resident old-schooler and give you 12 more important rock bands than U2. Like Jake, I'll try to stick with rock bands, and not branch out other genres. And even though I currently sorta hate scientists because they keep saying Pluto is not a planet, (even though it totally is), I'm going to try and be as [pseudo-] scientific as possible, and come up with a list of 12 rock bands who are the most important, based on their influence on the current state of rock music, both in popular circles, and in all other circles currently known to mankind.

And because this comment is long enough already. I'll leave the defense of said bands to the everloving Catfish Haven. Rock on.

1. The Beatles
2. Bob Dylan
3. The Rolling Stones
4. The Beach Boys
5. The Velvet Underground
6. The Ramones
7. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
8. Sly and the Family Stone
9. Roxy Music
10. Led Zeppelin
11. The Flying Burrito Brothers
12. Bo Diddley/Elvis Presley

That might be the most difficult list I've ever written. (And I feel bad for not having more female artists up there...) U2 is still important, but their importance seems 2nd-tier, somewhere alongside bands/artists like Sonic Youth, the Pixies, the Smiths, the Clash, Parliament/Funkadelic, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, David Bowie, Prince, Public Enemy and Bob Marley (Reminder: no one ever tried to assassinate Bono). And including U2 within that 2nd-tier list means leaving out Iggy and the Stooges, James Brown, Run-DMC, N.W.A., Talking Heads, REM, Fugazi, Nick Drake, the Greatful Dead, the Kinks, the Yardbirds, Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, the Beastie Boys, Television and Minor Threat (who, incidentally, might just be the most important band to the formation of indie rock).

That being said, I like Jake's list, too. But as a personal list I would definitely have to sneak in Danielson, Mirah, the Fiery Furnaces, Beulah and Mark Kozelek's rock and roll songs as well.

But this is science folks. Yezzur.

 
At 9/09/2006 11:44 PM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

Jonny:
I'm glad you got in on this as I was curious of how you would go at it. I intentionally tried to limit my list to rock bands who have made their importance impact in the last decade and are still active. I agree fully with you and find your list compelling though I can think of some interesting conversation points about it that I will save until I read your full defense in a mintue (where the hell is Pink Floyd Jonny?) I mostly avoided the full/all time but still important today approach because it was too much work. Mine was a "right now, these bands are doing things that are more important than U2." It did get me thinking about how much fun it would be to make a list of so absolutely freaking important classic rock bands that I am sad to know my young indie friends are unaware of.

Of your adds to my list I like the bands you mentioned but wasn't sure if any of them are making a big enough impact with their face rocking music despite my love for them all. Also, your elitist jab is entirely pointless. Your first type of elitism is a pre-requisit of such a conversation because the question is a form of the question "what are the 12 elite bands of today" so of course we are ranking things and saying which things are awesome. Further, my particular list included many bands that I either don't like or barely like in addition to my bands that do rule. Your 2nd C.S. Lewis notion of elitism is just as off base here. Because your definition has precluded ANY band that is just now making waves and as such is just another form of chronological elitism. It takes time to be the type of important you mentioned, time that bands like Arcade Fire, Devendra Banhart and even old timers like Yo La Tengo (for my list) have no way of accessing at this point. SO I counter your elitism claim with a so what and so is yours.

As a general/philosophical aside, I'm still not convinced by Dusty's point that the meaning of important here is subjective. Sure, I self selected what my definition of important was and so did you jonny but this is all far from subjective. Dusty seems to imply that the lists are simply "my 12 favorite bands." Even if it was "12 bands I think are great" it is a mistake, as far as I can tell, to say this is the same thing as to say "12 bands that make me happy" or "12 bands I like" because you saying "not only do I like this band but it is great."

For instance, I like the song "Slow Ride" by Foghat. It is fun, makes me smile, has good memories, and is great to sing along to. Were I to say "Hey Jonny, check out this song, I really like it." Jonny could ask why I liked it or say he didn't like it or agree that he also liked it. But that's the end of the conversation really. On the other hand, if I said "Jonny, check out this song, it is really great." He would probably ask me what I meant by great and so long as I did not make the crucial mistake of meaning "I like it" by "it is great" then we can have an actual conversation and he could convince me that the song was not great. In this case, if my peramiters were great songs to drive home from work/school listening to with the windows down in the summer, I think I would win the argument. If my meaning of great was the real meaning, i.e. excellent in the crucial ways that makes music meaningful, well I have no case.

Anyway, I stress this distinction because, whether or not we mean to, when we assume that definitions of things like important, great, beautiful, wonderful, good, bad, and awesome are simply subjective matters of taste and opinion we have surrendered to the emotivists. Such a mistake not only eliminates the posssibility for universal/"objective" value evaluations of things as good/bad but even worse it eliminates the possibility of anything being great, beautiful, true, amazing in and of themselves. In such a case great or important or good simply means popular (a line of argument actually given in this discussion about U2: they are very important because they sell out huge tours and sell records, i.e. they are very popular. No doubt this is a dimension of important but definately not of great.) So the greatest movie of all time is Titanic (Shrek 2 is the third greatest movie of all time), the greatest album of all time is the Eagles Greatest Hits, The Bible is the greatest book ever, Mandarin is the greatest language in the world, Lipitor is the best drug in the world, etc.

 
At 9/10/2006 1:58 AM, Blogger jonny said...

I have to admit, there are a number of bands that could be argued for inclusion on my particular list. Pink Floyd (who you already mentioned), the Byrds, Parliament/Funkadelic, the Band, Neil Young and possibly the Who (though I personally think they are overrated, too). I purposefully tried to add a couple of bands from the fringe, and I wouldn’t have a problem with someone arguing for the exclusion of Roxy Music or the Flying Burrito Brothers (especially considering how Gram Parsons did some of his very best work as a solo artist). And the Bo Diddley/Elvis Presley thing was a last minute addition. On their own, neither artist deserves inclusion; Diddley has maybe a dozen fantastic songs, and Elvis is more important for his white-man-singing-black-music shtick. (If you’re curious, I was trying desperately hard to justify Public Enemy at #12, based on the fact that there’s just so much industrial noise in the music, and that’s a very rock thing to do.)

As for your counter-elitism, I don’t think it sticks. First, list-making doesn’t have to be necessarily elitist, which is why instead of listing my favorite bands, I tried to list a bunch of bands that have impacted the modern day pop landscape. I’m not opposed to listing my favorite bands, per se, but I would never try to pass off my list of favorite bands as the end-all-be-all lists of all possible lists. Second, I like your wave analogy for combating my claim of chronological snobbery, and I’m going to run with it. Maybe the Arcade Fire or DB are making great waves in the here and now, but because they are just now making waves, their waves are basically baby waves, and are easily swept aside by the monster, grand-daddy tsunamis of the Stones or Bob Dylan.

Or maybe another analogy might help. Take a comparison between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Jordan’s numbers are amazing: six championship rings, 5 MVP awards, 14-time all-star, led the league in scoring 10 times and finished with over 32,000 points. LeBron has proven himself an amazing talent and a fantastic scorer. But in just three years, it’s way too soon to even begin comparing him to Jordan. Given time, the comparisons of greatness or importance will come. But not yet.

So maybe we can compare DBs early work with Dylan’s first few albums (but even then it’s different, because the only “stats” we have are albums or tickets sold, which don’t really prove much). By doing so, we can see that DB is holding his own. But his importance is nowhere near Dylan’s. And probably won’t be for quite a while. And it’s basically just tough luck. He’s gotta prove himself over the long haul. Given time, maybe. But not yet.

As for your last aside on subjectivity, I kind of understand what you mean. But I still stand with Dusty on this one. To get real basic, let’s talk about color preference. There’s absolutely no point in arguing which color is the best or greatest, or which colors are good and which colors are bad. I happen to like the colors blue and green quite a bit. And there are even reasons for this. But I would never claim that they are the best colors out there. I know of no objective way to rate something like color value. And that’s okay with me.

I see music in much the same way. Maybe that’s wrong, but I know of no objective way to rate something like music value, either. I know which songs I like, and I know why I like them, and I can explain why I like them. But I recognize that other people like different songs, and I understand why they like those songs, and I would never try to dissuade them from liking those songs. I have absolutely no idea if certain songs are beautiful in and of themselves. Maybe there is a formula for that. Or maybe there is a standardized test of some sort. I can only speak of why I like certain songs and why they are beautiful to me. Beyond that, words fail.

So to recap:

1. My list is not rock solid. There is room for elasticity.
2. Bob Dylan’s tsunami (of importance, not value or likeability) washes DB’s nice, little waves away, hands down.
3. Michael Jordan is still the most explosive scorer in the history of the NBA.
4. Color preference is subjective. And I’m okay with that.
5. Music preference is subjective. And I’m okay with that.
5a. “I like this band” and “this band is great” will always mean very different things, unless someone comes up with a magic eight ball that can accurately produce value judgments on pop songs.

 
At 9/10/2006 2:08 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

"1. My list is not rock solid. There is room for elasticity."
Ok, good, same for everyone probably.

"2. Bob Dylan’s tsunami (of importance, not value or likeability) washes DB’s nice, little waves away, hands down."
No doubt, nor did I ever, that I'm aware of, suggest that this was any other way. I just reiterated that my list was focused on people right now making new waves on rock, accepting even Andy's stipulation that Dylan could not be included.

"3. Michael Jordan is still the most explosive scorer in the history of the NBA."
Sure.

"4. Color preference is subjective. And I’m okay with that."
Right, I agree, all preferences are subjective.

"5. Music preference is subjective. And I’m okay with that."
Againg, all preferences are subjective.

"5a. “I like this band” and “this band is great” will always mean very different things, unless someone comes up with a magic eight ball that can accurately produce value judgments on pop songs."
What are you getting at here? The first point is my point exactly, a point that you seemed to disagree with in the rest of your statement. Also, you are approaching the subject with way too scientific an approach. Formulas? Machines? Tests? No, Jonny, this is not how your argue aesthetics. Clear cut definitions, easy evaluation of beauty and goodness and what not? These are scientific aims. No doubt the way to discuss these things are difficult and muddy but clearly there is something here more than just preferences, right?

Also, are denying the possibility of things to be beautiful, great, good in and of themselves or just colors and music?

 
At 9/10/2006 3:58 PM, Blogger jonny said...

Nice try, Jake. But I’m not going to get pulled into a debate over objective/universal aesthetic beauty. I have little idea of how to go there, and frankly, little desire to either.

[As a side note, I’m not sure which point of mine that I seemed to disagree with. Maybe I’m just being obtuse, but I’m a little bit muddled with what you’re saying in that part of your comment.]

Because you used the phrase "it is great" to mean two very different things, I was trying just trying to point out that I like this band and this band is great will always have very different meanings. I like this band is a preference. This band is great is a judgment of value (in regards to its aesthetic worth). The bits about tests and machines and magic 8-balls were a facetious response to the idea that there was a universal standard for beauty concerning music – that pop songs can be beautiful in and of themselves. I don’t have a clue how that would work. Pop songs, and all art, exist because of an audience (even if that’s just an audience of one). So I think it’s pretty much futile to try to talk as if that were otherwise. Sorry if I was unclear.

I don’t have a problem saying that some things are universally good or just or true, but I do have a problem with saying that things like music and art are beautiful by some standard set by experts or philosophers or scientists. Beauty is just one of those things that cannot be categorized or quantified, tested or dissected. What I think is beautiful is the sum total of my experiences, prejudices and opinions. And the sum total of my experiences is different from the sum total of your experiences. Consequently, our ideas on beauty will be skewed. So if someone out there really believes Fall Out Boy is beautiful, who am I to say that they’re not? If I really believe shape note singing is beautiful, who are you to say it’s not?

When we have a select few (or a populist many) deciding what is or is not beautiful, it saps the spirit out of seeking after beauty. There’s something romantic about finding the beauty in something that no one else finds beautiful. You know, You are beautiful because I find you beautiful. Maybe that's rubbish, but I think you’re missing the boat when it comes to the power of preference.

Finally, it’s not just that the way to discuss these things is difficult or muddy, it’s just that I refuse to make the claim that the Danielson Famile are, in and of themselves, more beautiful than U2. That’s crap. Things like that have beauty because we give them beauty, because our hearts or our minds or whatever prefer one over the other. Maybe that’s not perfect, but it’s the best way we know how.

So maybe you'd like to just answer your own question then, since you were so eager to put it out there: Is there something here more than preferences? And if so, what?

 
At 9/11/2006 11:44 AM, Blogger Jeff BBz said...

dang my limited internet access! I have so many comments i want to say! i want to discuss this long past everyone else is tired and hates me and themselves! instead i will limit my comments to what is not the actual conversation but to bob dylan.

jake, I am unclear how i am using the same line as with yes, unless you mean, "i don't like them." this is however much different as the only yes i had heard was later Yes, which is quite obvious terrible and a joke. When you exposed me to earlier Yes, i did find it interesting and worthwhile although, i will add that i currently do not generally listen to much Yes.

On the other hand, my exposure to bob dylan is much larger. My father listens to a lot of bob dylan and so i have heard my fair share from him. As well i used to have 4 or 5 dylan albums on my computer, until I erased them to make some room for other things (don't worry, also realizing that lots of people have dylan so if i ever want i can always get it back).

In addition unlike Yes, who i didn't know much about, and therefore wrote off to the realm of nonsense, I know a decent amount about Dylan, have read a hodgepodge here and there, have seen the Pennebaker documentary (although admitedly because of pennebaker and not dylan) and am well aware of his generally aknowledged "seriousness" as a musician as well as his accepted weight in the realm of rock and rock influence.

I've just as of yet, not been able to understand all the hubbub or really get into him. however i am glad you accepted my challenge to make me like him and when i come back home, or somewhere close, please do.

finally elvis sucks. jonny shame on you.

 
At 9/14/2006 10:35 AM, Blogger wholegrain said...

Important, huh? Well, all you "evangelical" dudes and dudettes are looking at it all wrong. All wrong.
What's the most important thing in the world? That's right, saving souls. These are twelve more "important" bands than U2. (Which you know has confused more people with their "Christian?" lyrics. Maybe like 230 people have been saved by their music. Here are twelve more harvest reaping bands. In no particular order.

1. P.O.D. I've never seen them live, but you always heard about the glory of their shows soul-rescuing abilities.
2. Carmen. Don't you remember going to a Carmen show and being so scared of the demon voice, you had to ask Jesus into your heart for the 8th time that year?
3. DC Talk. I can remember dancing like I knew how for 2 hours and just praying for the rest of the night.
4. SCC. The man has got it all, the lyrics, the following, the Nashville roots, and the spiritual combine to bring in the souls. (Man, I've said souls alot.)
5. Alice Cooper.
6. David Crowder. Never heard a song, but I've definitely heard of his music's powers.
7. Petra. They have a museum in Grand Rapids or something. "Red is color of the blood that flows, Become a Christian at one of our shows."
8. Michael "Dubs" Smith & Amy Grant. Best.Concert.Ever.
9. Any Colby the Computer or Psalty the Songbook concert. Kids are the easiest to save.
10. Gospel Gangstaz
11. Any Winans family member. How could you not react to an altar call when this family's vocal talents employed.
12. Jars of Clay. I think people moshed to "Flood". Plus it was totally on the popular radio stations for awhile.

Others more important than U2. Third Day, Sandi Patti, Twila Paris, Stryper, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Wayne Watson, and Degarmo & Key.

Also PLEASE check this awesome site out.
http://www.av1611.org/question/cqsaved.html

 
At 9/27/2006 1:35 PM, Anonymous Zach said...

Wow. Interesting thread!

I couldn’t come up with 12 bands more important than U2. I tried. But by my estimates they still make ‘the top 5’ if I’m being honest. And reading through many of your lists, I really think many of you are just lying (either to yourself, or to everyone else).

Maybe a compromise? Can we all agree that U2 may very well be the 13th most important band today?

Also, can someone clarify for me … how does U2 lead youth pastors into the ‘folds of confusion’? It’s a great line, I just don’t get it. Given, I think Bono sings just as much about running away from God as he does running towards God … but I think he’s just being honest in his lyrics. I relate to many of the frustrations he sings about. But that doesn’t mean I listen to U2 and then compromise the gospel. Who would do that? Unless you’re talking about morons … and come on, you can’t blame U2 for morons.

Finally Matthew … I like your thought process … but the problem with most of your top 12 is that they just don’t make very good music (With the exception of Jars of Clay, who is great). Because we’re talking about bands, making good music is a prerequisite for importance in my mind. And I know it’s subjective … I saw the whole paint by numbers accusation of U2, blah, blah, blah … but come on, most Christian artists just aren’t very good. I hope that will change in the future, but it’s pretty true now.

 

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