Monday, February 9, 2009

Robert Christgau's "Grown Up All Wrong"


I have always maintained that people's dislike of Yoko Ono was a sexism-informed type of injustice. As if Yoko Ono would have been able to break the Beatles up when they were making great music and, most importantly, when they were putting up with one another! Not a chance. This is simply a matter of opinion.

I happen to think that the creative impulse is much greater and more powerful than any human input we get externally.

'Familiarity breeds contempt' says the old a-la-Freud phrase. At times it might not but very often it does.
Maybe John had enough of Paul, George, and the other guy.
I have always thought the latter to be a much more plausible and human nature-informed reaction than the ludicrous blaming of Yoko.
Oh, Yoko, how they hate.

Now, whether you think rock 'n roll is relevant or not, you will find Robert Christgau's book Grown Up All Wrong: 75 Great Rock and Pop Artists from Vaudeville to Techno informative, gripping, and oozing a true love for music.

One's love for music cannot be artificially acquired. Music lives in one. Like the day you decide to skip a meal and listen to a record because it feeds you more. Or the other time you drop all things of significance to hear Matt Bellame of Muse because, for some reason, his music makes more sense to you than all the things of importance you do during the day, or the time you say no to a game of Ping-Pong because you'd rather 'rock' to Verdi.

Christgau, a rock journalist par excellence broods over the socio-historical/political aspect of the genius of rock 'n roll.
Instead of pontificating over the for-lack-of-a-better-word significance of rock 'n roll, consider Christgau's explanation as to why the Beatles broke up:

"The Beatles broke up because they were idealistic enough to be convinced of their historical mission and realistic enough to know they were no longer capable of carrying it forward. The Beatles broke up because they didn't see or care that the corporate life of a rock group could endure long after its collective life was kaputt. The Beatles broke up because the couple is a more stable structure than the four-way. The Beatles broke up because three of them believed they were geniuses and only one one of them was. The Beatles broke up because they thought they were immortal. The Beatles broke up because they couldn't stand each other anymore" (125).

Do read Christgau's book. If nothing else, it will inform. Most adequately.





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12 comments:

JJ said...

Beautiful post!

JJ said...

Beautiful post!

Mary said...

I have also wondered about people's dislike of Yoko. It just didnt' make much sense. I mean, what, Paul and John would be BFF's for ever...?!
I need to read the book, thx.
How's the research coming along?
And what were you listening to when I saw you driving yesterday?

dave said...

Christgau... that's right. The ultimmate rock journalist!
I'll def. read this.
I liked his Beatles bit. And I agree.
There was John and the other guys.

Anonymous said...

Music is bigger than most things hence it cannot be contained. But it needs to be wooed. Constantly.

B.R. said...

-Thanks.
-I tend to think that artists break up when they sense that there is not much more GOOD work they can create together. When a relationship runs its course, one needs to move on. It's not too difficult a concept. The waters of creativity will run no matter what so at times one needs to modify the course of action a bit. Hence, the Beatles broke up.
-Research is coming along. As for what I was listening to this wkd when driving out and about, I'd say it depends on the time you saw me. If it was noon-ish then I'd say Luda and Postal Service. Later in the day some uber-mellow stuff out of my friend's iPod at which point I realized I was missing my iPod too much.

Becca said...

Ditto on the Beatle comment.
Double ditto on the Yoko bit.
good one.

Sra said...

John, Paul, George, and the other guy

Ha ha ha ha ha!

Dori said...

Bri 101:
John, Paul, George and the other guy!

Too good!!

Anonymous said...

agree with Sra! Too funny!!

Deidre said...

By the way, I 'pulled a B.R.' today and quoted your Beatle statement.... 'John, Paul, George, and the other guy'...

Too good not to use, I say.

liam said...

i think there were two major reasons a portion of the general audience didn't like yoko.

1) she's japanese, and this was post-war uk and usa.

2) she wasn't white 60's pretty.

the argument of her being disliked for being a woman is only part of the story and only relevant when one considers the other two factors, which i think play a much larger role. john left his "pretty", white wife for this "ugly, asian misunderstood artist. therein lies the real contention.