An unlikely turn of events

I’m having dinner the other night at Emma’s Pizza in Cambridge, Ma. Funny place, college hangout featuring thin-crust pizza, mis-matched chairs, and the geekiest collage of 20-something nerds (everyone of them paying by credit card) I had seen in a long time. The service has been described as “Kafka-esque”–it’s not, it’s just incompetent, but pleasant enough for being so. The service gave me plenty of time to listen to the tunes they were playing, which were pretty good. The first tune that really caught my ear was one I had heard before, but I had no idea what it was. I thought maybe it was some remix of a 60s tune. It had this great refrain of “no, no, no”, sung way behind the beat. Who is this? I Googled on my Blackerry, “Who sings that song that goes no, no, no?” What an age we live in. A few hits down, Google confirmed what I had sort of suspected, it’s the Amy Winehouse song, “Rehab”.

Now, I had seen pictures of Amy–who hasn’t?–and heard about all the brouhaha about her Grammy wins. Let’s just say, I was not predisposed to like her. The music, however, completely won me over, and the CD was waiting for me when I got home Friday night. Dipping into the rest of the album, there are some fine moments and at least a few insanely great lyrics, “What kind of fuckery is this / you made me miss the Slick Rick gig!”

I don’t know if it’s a function of our age or my age, but derivative pop music no longer bothers me, I actually really like it. My favorite bands of the last few years would have had me sneering back in my teens: Interpol is a Joy Division ripoff, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs rip everybody off, The Whigs singer in the post below is an amalgam of Neil Young and Thurston Moore. So What? As Donald “Duck” Dunn famously said, “If the shit fits, wear it!”

One Reply to “An unlikely turn of events”

  1. It’s your mind seeking balance. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The no no nos. (Could be a binary thing.) Do I hear maybe, maybe maybe?

    I can see something similar in my appreciation of film (for me, a secondary interest). I was put off film at any early age by a Toronto critic whose reviews of films were consistently far more interesting than the films themselves.

    He’d rave (in an interesting way) about some movie. I’d see it, and be vastly disappointed. So I did the only sensible thing — continued to read the reviews and stopped seeing the movies.

    I often wonder what I would think of those films now that my film experience has grown. Would I see what he saw in them, or some kind of equivalent value? I don’t know.

    But I do know I’m pleased to be able to enjoy good facets of less than fantastic movies.

    The more excellent movies I see, the more I am capable of seeing in lesser movies. It doesn’t have to be great to be — in some small way or ways — enjoyable, unusual, good. I appreciate the variations, the small surprises, the minor good things — imagination, wherever, on whatever scale — regardless (perhaps even because of) the circumstances.

    It’s hard to hold derivation against art. All art is derivative.

    I don’t think imagination is the opposite of derivation. It’s more like a divagation.

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