Count me among the surprised: the Flaming Lips’ full album cover of Dark Side of the Moon is excellent, and having Henry Rollins do the spoken bits is a stroke of genius. Is this a piece of art that future generations will look back on and find relevant? I’m not sure that question has much steam anymore, though I have been thinking about it quite a lot; I enjoy reading Catullus and the Enûma Eliš, sure, but I question, more or less daily, the wisdom of spending my time placing symbols in a row in the hopes of giving someone else a bit of joy or horror or what have you. But then I’ve just answered my own half-formed question: why bother to write, or make music or paint or any other art, when everything is on fire and even the finest, most sturdy bits of artifice are already turning to ash? Well, because of other people. There would be no muse if there was no audience, no reason to extrude into other’s minds, give them bits of meaning to play with and build their own thing with…. artists who claim the art is all, that they could give a fig for what their audience thinks, are full of shit. I must create art, I cannot live well (or at all, perhaps) without doing so, but this need is absolutely predicated on the existence of other minds whom I think might find what I create interesting. And so the question of the durability of an artistic endeavor is a red herring; I have no control over the cultural machinery that will decide what counts as art 500, 1000 years from now, if there are even people alive then to compose the machinery. The whole high/low art distinction was one product of cultural machinery, as was the supposed destruction of this distinction by cultural theorists; unlike these theorists, however, I think find it important to distinguish between Art, which, to my mind, challenges its audience and tries to reveal something deeply resonant about existence, and not-Art, which does not seek to challenge its audience and seeks to communicate only the most trite truisms. So, the Flaming Lips cover of The Dark Side of the Moon does challenge the listener, and raises all sorts of questions about authorship, but it doesn’t do a lot more than that. It is interesting, though not great, Art. It might become great if I listen to it several more times, however; there is a distinct tendancy, in the informavore age, to listen or view or read quickly and without much care, regarding each attempt at art as one voice in an ongoing stream of voices trying to prove their relevance. Great art should command our attention, of course, but much that is great will escape us if our ability to pay attention is too tightly defined by the cultural machine, and we are too lazy or lost or frightened to learn to change it.
228) Graham Parsons: Grievous Angel
When an artist dies young, the reservoir of unfulfilled potential we assume exists spills out and colors the work they did produce; if this is a distortion, then maybe it is an acceptable distortion, I don’t know. I do know that there are 1/2 dozen great songs here, some good ones, and some drek; on the whole, I prefer his covers of other folks to his own compostions (“Big Mouth Blues” I love, though).
229) The Clash: Combat Rock
Straight to Hell, boys.
230) The Psychedlic Furs: All of This and Nothing
A few hits on here, but as is often the case, the non-hits are better, like the title track, and “Imitation of Christ” (was that a hit? Can’t see how…)
231) Warren Zevon: The Wind
Ok, I guess playing “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” makes sense here; I thought Guns ‘n’ Roses had permanently killed that song for me, but Warren brought it back. Thanks. “Rub Me Raw” is great, too, and of course, this one: