So, yes, the honeymoon is over, and I want to delete it, but know that I might regret it, because underneath the layers of mindless games, obnoxious applications, and the occasional seven-posts-a-day friend, it really is a useful tool. What happens, though, is that I wind up getting involved in commentary with posts –- be it of friends or my own –- and later, when I see that friend, a real-life conversation picks up from where the comment thread started, and then left off. It’s a very dehumanizing sensation. There are also photos of oneself –- plenty to go around, I might add –- that only amplify the general disgust images of my likeness can tend to generate.
But mostly, I’m just bored with it, and every time I find myself close to pinning the shoulders of my delete-account opponent to the mat, something good comes along, like a cool sports video, or a fascinating article, or just some random thing that starts an amazing thread of commentary. For example, 10 days ago, a pal of mine spent the evening watching a biography program on Aerosmith. As he is want to do, my friend posted a YouTube clip of an Aerosmith song. Ironically, I had very briefly written about this song almost three years ago to the day. Well, I didn’t so much write about the song as use its title for a thematic vehicle, but I did go so far as to say that the song was “a terribly awful, monotonous and uninventive song.
And at the time, when I saw he’d put up this clip, I didn’t even remember writing about the song, but my feelings regarding it were apparently the same, as I commented, “Used to be a massive 'smith fan back in the day. That song's one of their worst, though.” He responded by saying I was being judgmental, and I challenged him to find a more-qualified Aerosmith expert –- awful as that sounds –- than myself. In terms of commentary, I expected that two things could happen: 1) One or two random folks might chime in with opinions of their own, and 2) the conversation between us would endure one, maybe two tops, more exchange of comments, and fizzle out.
What did not occur to me was that this gentleman used to be employed in the radio business, and he therefore, knows a few people in music. One person in particular took issue with my statement of opinion regarding “Same Old Song And Dance,” and the comment thread went all Usain Bolt on those involved.
Before I get into that, though, know that the thing fizzled out by day’s end, and we all went about our ways, no harm no foul.
This week, music has been on my mind for various reasons. Tomorrow, the wife, our baby and I will be getting on a train to St. Louis to see Railroad Earth. I’m very excited for the trip in general for three reasons: 1) I’m absolutely stoked to see this band, 2) It will be our first family trip together (the baby is 16 weeks old today), and 3) We’ve always talked about taking a trip on a train somewhere together; my last trip was 25 years ago with my Boy Scout trip, and hers was similarly some time ago. As I’ve mentioned once before regarding show-going, I like to have first-hand knowledge of an artist’s studio repertoire, and heading into the week I only owned two of their five (live releases not included) albums, and due to some technical issues with my iTunes account, I hadn’t yet been able to purchase them.
A download of iTunes solved the initial problem, but then another one arose: I could not –- and still cannot -- sync my iPod with the newly downloaded version. In a fit of haste, I burned the downloads to CD, but selected the wrong format, and discovered, once in my car and en route to work, that they were unreadable. Naturally, these were not rewritable discs, so the two copies I’d made of each album –- the wife’s gotta study up, too –- were wasted, as was one more day for listening. That evening, bad mood finally shrugged off, I burned them correctly, and our cars were loaded Tuesday morning, now only two driving days of listen-time available. But we’ll make do.
On Wednesday, I went to lunch with some family, and afterwards swapped cars with my mother for an errand. While driving her vehicle, I popped on the stereo to see what she had in the CD player, and I was half surprised, half not surprised at all to discover that she had a compilation of ‘60s tunes in there. Now, there’s nothing wrong with oldies, but the half-not-surprised part can be explained like so: There are some music lovers out there in the world that have, at some point in their lives, established what it is they like to listen to, and it is then and there that their personal growth for music appreciation is forever stunted.
This is not to imply that my mother is one of these people, but she sometimes resembles one. This is also not to imply that I am constantly devouring new music. I’m not. I take in new music with a high rate of inconsistency, but were time and money not significant factors, said rate of inconsistency would be much lower. Anyway, I thought about this notion last week when compiling the final installment of our HoG25 project, and it made me thankful that Cecil, Old No. 7, and myself all have tastes in music that are at times similar, and at other times, quite different.
Anyway, back to Aerosmith.
When I first had the privilege of earning money via babysitting, mowing lawns, and later tax-paying employment, I would, regardless of occasional criticism from family and friends, ride my 10-speed to the music store, and spend significant portions of my earnings on cassette tapes. The name of the music store changed numerous times over the years –- Peaches, Sound Warehouse, CD Warehouse –- and I eventually drove my own car (although it hurt my music-purchasing budget to buy one) there, but all told, I probably bought over 1,000 tapes from the joint, even continuing to stubbornly due so post-compact-disc debut.
As I moved through high school, and financial responsibilities grew, I sold off some of the crappier albums I bought, and I never regretted owning any of them really. I had one and only one mantra: Never, under any circumstances, buy a greatest-hits compilation. I wanted the album, the final product released after studio-recording sessions. This is not to say that I didn’t violate it from time to time. When shrouded in doubt, i.e. the undying notion that I was supposed to love the Grateful Dead but overwhelmed by the massive discography, I purchased Skeletons from the Closet, which is really a terrible collection of Dead tunes, and because of those songs, it would be a few years before I would discover the true gems of their legacy. I also bought Bob Marley’s Legend, and conversely, loved every song so much that I bought every single album of his before giving away my copy of the compilation.
If there was one flaw to my purchasing habits, it was that it was way too classic-rock heavy. Now, this provided me with quite the mental arsenal of lyrics, album-release years, and factoids, but I didn’t branch out enough.
Sure, I started buying rap and hip hop, and later ventured elsewhere genrewise, but I bought a ton of classic rock, fortifying my addictive personality with the belief that I couldn’t be a true fan if I wasn’t legitimately familiar with everything they’d ever recorded. I went through this with many artists, and enjoyed almost every minute –- even through the bad songs and the crummy albums –- of this lengthy experience, but it just so happened that Aerosmith was my first.
I was first lured in by classic-rock radio. You know the staples: “Dream On,” “Walk This Way,” “Sweet Emotion,” and, right around the time I was getting fully invested in their old staples, the Permanent Vacation (1987)and Pump (1989) albums came out, so I devoured those, too. Once I knew those newer two releases front to back, I began to dig around for the stuff that came out after 1977’s Draw the Line. And I bought it all. Then they released the Pandora’s Box (1991) box set, and I bought that, too, simply because it had some unreleased stuff and some other tidbits not included in my collection. It was the last Aerosmith purchase I ever made.
Pause for a moment to note that, in my estimation, there are four phases of Aerosmith, and they look like this:
Their self-titled, 1973 debut through Draw the Line is a period that comprises some of the rowdiest, rockinest, most-original material they ever wrote. Each of the five studio releases -- Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic, and Rocks are the other three -- from Phase I has its duds, make no mistake. But if I may paraphrase Christopher Walken’s Vincenzo Coccotti in "True Romance," This was as good as it was gonna get, and I can promise you: It’s not gonna get that good again. It should be noted that Draw the Line is the weakest of the five releases, and a sign of what was to come in Phase II.
In the second stage of the Aerosmith discography, we have what could be called a seven-year stretch of mostly garbage, a stretch that includes three releases and truckloads of drugs. Nineteen seventy-nine’s Night in the Ruts contained the mediocre “No Surprize,” and the sappily enchanting “Remember (Walking in the Sand),” a cover of the 1964 hit from the Shangri-las. Nothing else from the session is noteworthy. Three years later, the band released Rock in a Hard Place, which was mildly better than its predecessor, but only a few cuts had doses resembling Phase I. Another three years, and the Done with Mirrors album dropped, one that suggested their notorious partying days were behind them. It is stone-cold awful.
Permanent Vacation kicked off the third tier of this band’s undying legacy, and I’m not gonna lie: I didn’t even reach for a spoon; I ate it up, face-first. This was a special album for me, even though I knew it wasn’t that good. I did, nevertheless develop some semblance of relationship with each track, even the hits. I liked that a band I knew so much about was still putting out music, and, at the time, hits mattered to my feeble mind, and this release had three big ones. And speaking of big ones, there was a healthy dose of sexual innuendo happening inside these cuts, which was a magic elixir for a dude dancing on the doorstep of pubescence. Two years later came Pump, and there were no tricks here: This album was dripping with sex. It was in the lyrics, the MTV videos, and even the Things That Go Pump in the Night VHS tape that, yes, I bought. With Pump, Aerosmith was back, on the covers of all the magazines, touring hard, and, as a matter of fact, bigger than ever.
This final chapter of Aerosmith can, to me, be summarized as everything post-Pump. It began four years after the massive release, and reaches to 2004. This stretch includes four studio albums, all the videos with Alicia Silverstone, and who knows what else. After Pump, I checked out. Not because I tired of them –- although maybe I did –- but because my musical development had taken me elsewhere. It should be noted that, of 11 of Aerosmith’s compilations, 10 came out during this stretch, so, uh, the phrase “milkin’ it” comes to mind. They have, since the late ‘70s, also released five live albums.
Needless to say, Aerosmith had a huge influence on me, but I never imagined any of the musicians to be better than the true phenoms of the era, i.e. Eddie Van Halen, Neal Peart, Bootsy Collins/Flea/Les Claypool, but they were a foundation from which to grow, and I’ll always appreciate the time and money I invested in getting to know their albums.
What does all of this mean? It’s a tie-in to that Facebook thread, the one that started with me saying, “Used to be a massive ‘smith fan back in the day. That song’s one of their worst, though.”
That, in case you forgot, was in reference to “Same Old Song And Dance,” an opinion with which one Paul “Neanderpaul” Marshall disagreed. Our exchange -– all sic -- went like this:
Paul Marshall: Regading “Same Old Song & Dance”…far from one of their worst. In fact, it’s considered one of their benchmark songs. YOU may not like it. But you’re certainly in the minority. The fact that it remains an in-concert staple of their set, part of Rock radio playlists all over the world, and included on no less than seven different Aerosmith releases would prove opposite of your assertion. SOSAD is one of Aerosmith’s BEST songs in the court of public opinion.
bankmeister: Oh, okay. So continuing to play a number live when you’re all 60+ years old, and continuing to have said number aired on the mindless, soul-numbing entity known as classic-rock radio, *and* continuing to release greatest hits, sundry other compilations with the same collection of tracks warrants *proof* of benchmark status? I was unaware. Funny, though, when I check their list of 21 singles in the Top 40 chart, guess what’s not one of them?
SOSAD. An acronym for a *best* song, or a summary of your assertion?
(Note: Those songs include: 1) “Sweet Emotion,” 2) “Dream On,” 3) “Last Child,” 4) “Walk This Way,” 5) “Back in the Saddle,” 6) a remake of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” 7) “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” 8) “Rag Doll,” 9) “Angel,” 10) “Love in an Elevator,” 11) “Janie’s Got a Gun,” 12) “What It Takes,” 13) “The Other Side,” 14) “Livin’ on the Edge,” 15) “Cryin’,” 16) “Amazing,” 17) “Crazy,” 18) Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees),” 19) “Pink,” 20) “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing,” and 21) “Jaded.”
Six of the 21 Top 40 hits came from Phase I. “Same Old Song And Dance” reached 54 at its peak position.)
PM: Yes. That’s the benchmark. Market dictates it. If there were no demand, the song would disappear. You cannot demean the fact that the song appears in their set for almost 40 years, and appears on their best-selling CDs and exists on Radio, and then cite Top 40 charts to defend your position. Your logic is not just flawed…it’s contradictory. You may not like the song, but unlike some of Aerosmith’s big Top 40 hits (“Angel, “Dueces Are Wild” “Amazing” “Pink”) “Same Old Song & Dance” has stood the test of time. It is one of their enduring benchmark tracks. You may not like it. But, you are clearly in the minority.
FMQB’s two time Rock Music Director of the Year and repeated nominee for Radio & Records Magazine's Music Director of the Year.” It should also be noted that “Deuces Are Wild” never registered anywhere on the Top 40 chart, but did peak at number one on the U.S. Rock chart.)
b: Being “clearly in the minority” of classic-rock radio is like saying one can think for one’s self. Cut out all of your parenthetical tracks there, and look at the tunes that actually rock, the ones that don’t reek of redundancy. Better yet, go straight to Get Your Wings, the album of its release. Of the eight tracks recorded, four are 10X the song SOSaD ever dreamt of being. They put out an album a year for their first five in existence, yielding 43 tunes. SOSaD doesn’t make the top 25 in my book, and frankly, I couldn’t care less if I’m in the minority. It’s simply not an inventive cut. It’s repetitive, has a lame solo, and could be argued, nominally speaking, to be a parody of itself. Oh, hey –- that also turns out to be the definition of classic rock.
(Note: Said top 25 would include (listed in chronological order) the following: 1) Dream On,” 2) “Mama Kin,” 3)”Walkin’ the Dog,” 4) “Lord of the Thighs,” 5) “Spaced,” 6) “Woman of the World,” 7) “S.O.S. (Too Bad),” 8) “Train Kept A Rollin’,” 9) “Toys in the Attic,” 10) “Uncle Salty,” 11) “Walk This Way,” 12)“Big Ten Inch Record,” 13) “Sweet Emotion,” 14) “No More No More,” 15) “Round and Round,” 16) “Back in the Saddle,” 17) “Last Child,” 18) Rats in the Cellar,” 19) Sick As a Dog,” 20) “Nobody’s Fault,” 21) “Lick and a Promise,” 22) “Draw the Line,” 23) “Kings and Queens,” 24) The Hand That Feeds,” and 25) “Sight for Sore Eyes.” )
PM: See…now you’re backtracking. You wanted to cite top 40 charts to measure proficiency on one hand, and then dismiss examples provided that refute your argument. The fact is; YOU do not like “Same Old Song & Dance.” That’s it. Everything else is simply an attempt to support your argument. Which is merely subjective. The world views “Same Old Song & Dance: as one of Aerosmith’s greatest songs. You are always free to disagree. And as far as which songs (in your words) “Actually rock,” Again, you’re being subjective. Your original assertion was that “that song is one of their worst.” I’ve proven through facts that can be substantiated, that your statement is incorrect. It is one of their best. It may not be one of your favorites. But you…are wrong.
(Note: Yes, I am FJMing this thing, and I’ll take the opportunity here to mention that a) Mr. Marshall never again referred to the song by his initial acronym of choice, b) I’m not in the slightest concerned with hits, but in the hasty throes of the exchange, I sought something that would set SOSaD apart from great tracks, something other than the fact that it’s a lame song.)
b: You threw around benchmarks, setlists, and radio play, sir. I tried to join you by using a similar vehicle, and, in my estimation, you used the easy route of citing nothing but newer, poppier Top 40 hits to refute my claim. Of *course* I’m attempting to support my argument. My original argument -– I, as a rehabilitated Aerosmith junky –- find SOSaD to be a weak, diminutive example of balls-to-the-wall Aerosmith. You came on board -- speaking on behalf of the majorities and, currently, the world -– saying that I was incorrect. I’m aware of what my argument was. What I’m not aware of are these substantiated facts you stated. Did the world vote when their greatest-hits albums were produced? Does Steven Tyler channel his inner Lynyrd Skynyrd with a, “What song is it you wanna hear?” before every show, and the fans respond with booming SOSaD chants? Can you really sit there and insist that fill-in-the-blank on any subject is “the best” and accuse your opposition as being subjective? I know solid Aerosmith, and I’m sorry to melt the wax into your cake, but you be bein’ the one that’s wrong.
PM: You seem to remain confused. Simply by its inclusion on a “Greatest Hits” collection, “Same Old Song & Dance” is classified as “Great.” And your reading comprehension apparently lacks as well. Your original assertion never implied personal opinion. What I have done, is provide empirical evidence to the contrary of your statement. This is not about me vs. you. Although when you challenge someone to find a “more qualified expert” (Note: I had done precisely so to the poster.) on Aerosmith, and one appears before you, you cannot seem to handle it. Aerosmith don’t play songs that the masses don’t want to hear live. They also don’t include songs people wouldn’t want to purchase on their Greatest Hits compilations. It’s the indisputable law of supply and demand. There remains demand for that song. And as such, that refutes your assertion of it being one of their worst songs. Whether or not you agree is irrelevant. You’re wrong. What you choose personally is another matter altogether. There exists enough data to support the contention that “Same Old Song & Dance” is a great Aerosmith song…despite what you may believe.
b: I see. So, when people say, “That was the worst” they’re tossing around blanket statements, substantiated facts, and empirical evidence? I’m learning so much today. Or, when a guy cuts me off in traffic, and I call him “the worst driver ever,” but somebody who later gets run over at a crosswalk and says the same thing, do we go to court to attempt to devalue one another’s factual testimonies? This thread is littered with your opinion. Use of the word “great,” telling me I’m wrong, and claiming yourself as a superior Aerosmith expert are all examples of it. But check this out: I’ll admit the error of my original statement of it being one of their worst songs, and I’ll -- backtracking alert! – change it to this: “Same Old Song and Dance: is not one of Aerosmith’s greatest songs, nor is it a great Aerosmith song. In fact, it’s not even a great song at all. Put that in your data machine, General Greatest Hits. *Handle* it, even.
PM: You appear to be unable to discuss this without emotion. I never said I was a superior fan. But, I can say that I am a qualified expert in all things Aerosmith. And once again, and try to pay attention here…”Same Old Song & Dance” is one of Aerosmith’s greatest songs. Whether you agree or not. The fact that it remains part of their current presentation live & included on multiple “Greatest Hits” collections makes it so. That’s it. End of debate Were this not truth, the song wouldn’t still be played live, on radio, or purchased. Hate it all you want. But it remains the truth. Best of luck in your world. I’m sure it’s difficult to accept that the world is not as you believe it to be. Must be very frustrating to you.
b: That (the fan assertion) was a typo that I edited to read “expert,” which you did assert, and did so again in the previous comment. I wondered when you thought I was confused, unable to read, and not paying attention, but you won some points back by noting that there is emotion involved in my statement. That’s what happens when you’re both fan and expert: You get to look at it both subjectively and objectively. I’m amazed that you continue to think that you, or anybody, putting the label of “great” on something makes said thing fact. If I deem you unqualified to judge Aerosmith songs, does that make in the stores don’t make something great. They make it popular. Best of luck to you, too, buddy. I’m looking to get out of my difficult-to-accept world where things are not only frustrating, but not as I believe them to be. Maybe one day I’ll get to drink from your fact-loaded water cooler and see things in a more enlightened fashion.
And thus, it ended.
What I (apparently unsuccessfully) wanted to communicate to Mr. Marshall were a few points of interest beyond the fact (Note: I’m kidding; it’s my
1) Hits matter to some people.
2) I am not one of them.
3) They did, at one point, matter considerably to me. Heck, as a real young kid, I’d tune into Casey Kasem every week, and stay plugged in until we were at number one.
4) Classic rock does not care about hits, per se, in the traditional sense.
5) It cares only about a select collection of rock and roll tunes from a particular era.
6) That era used to have specific boundaries, but they have flexed some in recent years.
7) Classic rock used to be my one-and-only go-to. I outgrew it. When I think about it now, I think about those United Negro College Fund commercials.
8) Many classic rock fans never outgrow classic rock, and are therefore subject to an eternally close-minded view of music.
9) Such close-mindedness can be seen in one (or more) of the following forms:
a) A music collection
b) A music philosophy
c) A certainty that radio stations, record labels, concert setlists, and the demand created by the unity of the three write the music-book laws.
10) Mr. Marshall, at the time of this thread, appeared to be disturbingly associated with 8) and 9).
So, naturally, my curiosity arose, and I dug around a bit, to see if I could learn more about this award-winning music director. What I found – all sic – follows:
A few tidbits from a Q&A with “NeanderPaul”:
• Describe your weekly music meeting:
It's good to be the king. For how long have I been talking smack about which song deserves airplay ... and which one is crap? I have the power to destroy careers! BWA HA HA!
• What is the process when you listen to new music?
Truth be told, I don't get a whole lot of new music sent my way. (Note: Wait, what? Get outta here.) Even though we play current music in a city of over three million, and cume the population of entire markets, apparently because we have yet to be officially added to "the panel," our station is not deemed worthy of the effort. Pardon my bitterness. But, this is simply asinine on the part of the record industry. I will try to maintain my composure for once.
• What format does not exist that should?
Ready? I don't think "Classic Alternative" has been done quite right yet. The format is deep, mass-appeal and 25-54 friendly. The diversity in that old "skinny tie rock" is phenomenal! Everything from Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, The Smiths and Big Country to Thomas Dolby, Psych Furs and The Cult.
• Would it work?
Sure it would. (Note: No. It would really, really not.) It's the same concept as Classic Rock. There are enough core artists such as U2, The Cure and REM. Plus, the pool of one-hit pop/alt songs combined with punk/new wave is stupid-deep. I'd like to think it would. But if it did, wouldn't someone have done it already? Maybe they are and I just don't hear it. I'd roll every song from every John Hughes movie. (Not that they resonated with anyone.) I am actually shocked it isn't really being done. Too many stations think Stone Temple Pilots is Alternative.
• Tell us what music we would find on your mp3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
Perhaps this influenced my previous rant. But, today I've enjoyed The English Beat and P.I.L. I like how that old Alternative music was definitively unique. There's a big difference between U2 and REM. I use them as examples because they're so ubiquitous. As a music fan, I find a lot of the current music to be so similar, that it lacks character (Note: This, coming from a guy that likes hair bands, and just finished professing his beliefs regarding the diversity of ‘80s music.). I'm not sure when cloning whatever flavor-of-the-month sound became a good idea again. But, if you look at how musically diverse we were 25 years ago, I think you'll see what I mean. I am so passionate about great music, that I have rediscovered bands I hated from back then, and now appreciate what they did. Drop the Feelies "The Good Earth," or The Pretenders' first record on and then tell me how good that sounds.
• In your opinion, what is the greatest song ever that never made it as a hit?
This changes so often. I always come back to a handful -- "Say Ahh" by Merchant of Venus and "Shine" by Sevendust are up there. But ... there was a band from England called Moke that, to me, is the greatest band that never made it, of all time. The CDs came out on Ultimatum and the debut is criminally overlooked. Somebody please re-release this stuff! It deserves to be heard.
Tweets of interest from “NeanderPaul”:
• “One of the best covers of all time!” (link to “Can’t Find My Way Home” by House of Lords)
• “Radiohead? zzzzzz & Jeff Buckley was never my thing either.” (link to Rolling Stone magazine’s Readers Pick the Top 10 Albums of the ‘90s article)
• “Figured it made sense today.” (link to “It’s Not Love” by Dokken)
• “Always found these guys to be a bit underrated.” (link to “(You Can Still) Rock in America” by Night Ranger)
• “Great tune that gets lost in the shuffle too often.” (link to “Wild Child” by W.A.S.P.)
• “Say what you will…these guys wrote some GREAT songs…this one included.” (link to acoustic version of “Fly to the Angels” by Slaughter)
• “Better than they ever got credit for.” (link to “What You Say” by Saigon Kick)
• “Oh you KNOW you loved this song.” (link to “Give It to Me Good” by Trixter)
Other “NeanderPaul” miscellany:
“People don’t listen to the radio to hear music, but they listen to the radio to feel connected to the music. No matter how great that new Linkin Park or Shinedown album is, they’re not listening to their iPod to feel connected with that.”
“My audience doesn’t care if you’re a +15 this week; they just want to hear the best music from their favorite radio station. If I worked for a record company I would recognize that and say, “Here’s the brand new Nickelback album. Play what you want.” Ultimately, if a kid goes and buys the album, you’ve done your job.
And that leaves me with only two things to say about this whole thing: 1) My job is far from done, because I thought I had an idea of who this journeyman radio personality was, but the more I looked around, the more confused (Note: Hey, look -- He was right!) I got, and 2) “Same Old Song And Dance,” crappy of a song as it might be, does serve a purpose: It’s easy as pie to play on Guitar Hero. Lord knows we’ve all heard it enough times.