Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bowling, for Music

Sometimes I wonder if I’m nuts, thinking about music so much. I mean, it’s not like I even play an instrument very well. Perhaps it’s that very lack of ability in music that causes me to overcompensate by listening and reading and writing so much about it.

The term hobby sounds harmless enough. Obsession is actually kinda sexy. But the bleak reality is an ever growing stack of CDs, forever tipping over and taking up more room than my actual children.

So it’s a cause for worry. Jaybee, I’ll tell myself, maybe it’s time to grow up and merely like music.

But then along comes a guy who outdoes me by a mile, leaving me feeling both very relieved and a touch jealous. His name’s David Bowling, and he writes for BC (blogcritics)

Here’s his bio, with my admittedly envious commentary:

I have been collecting vinyl records for over forty years….
Yeah, so what? I’ve been doing it for…..forty SIX years! In your face DB!

…and my collection is approaching 50.000 records…
Holy shit, I’ve got barely 1,400. Okay, I surrender! The guy’s officially my hero.

My wife Susan and children, Stacey and Amy, have learned to humor my passion.
And suffer from starvation no doubt. And I thought my wife and kids were good sports.

I am now settled in beautiful Whispering Pines, North Carolina...
No doubt because the Band told him to.

…where I work hard…
Allright, stop showing off.

…listen to music…
No shit. You’d better, or else eat those records.

… and write reviews for Blogcritics.
What, and get paid for it too? Well, it’s official now: FML.

And what’s his method? He takes an artist and - get this - REVIEWS EVERY ONE SINGLE ONE OF THEIR ALBUMS!

Why, you might ask? The same reason why a dog licks his balls, I guess. Because he can! He apparently has every record ever recorded. His house isn’t in Whispering Pines, NC. His house IS Whispering Pines, NC.

With all due respect Mr. Bowling, we all have a limited time on this Earth, so it’s okay to give in to what Al Capone link would call our “enthusiasms” and ignore the rest. We are not meant to be encyclopedias, after all.

Besides, there are very few artists who deserve such attention. And someone who would dutifully review the 17th album by Yes link (or the Allman Brothers link , for that matter) had to have something wrong with him. He carries completism – a concept I’ve now officially come down against - to it’s (il)logical extreme.

Someone who listens to music so comprehensively simply cannot be very passionate about it, I tell myself.

But I’m wrong, and I know it. Encyclopedias are exactly what the professionals are supposed to be, god help them. Meanwhile, I get to f*ck off and only write about what I feel like. Base envy has led me to mock David’s dogged commitment, and for that I apologize. (By the way, per David, Yes’s 17th album is slightly better than their 16th, but quite up to par with their 15th. Or was it their 14th? What a life, I thought…)

My method is more like:
• I don’t even have the first album, but I remember hearing it at my friend’s house in 1973. I therefore conclude that the artist has “potential”, but is somewhat “unfocused”.
• I really should listen to the second, but it’s in the basement. I can save a LOT of time by just calling it a “lost masterpiece”.
• I only have the third and fourth albums on 8-track, so I really don’t remember them. Let’s call this a “transitional period”.
• And the rest I don’t have, and I’m frankly am not interested. Hence, my conclusion is that the artist has met with commercial success and I need not add anything to the prevailing wisdom, or that this is a late “unappreciated” (especially by me) period.

Thus with a minimum of time and effort– between dinner and the dishes, let’s say - I can provide you, dear reader, with “fresh insight” or “a unique perspective” on “the high points” of an artist’s career.

But David’s a better human being than me, and I just can’t stand people like that. It’s a love/hate relationship. I love me and hate him. Not true, I hate me most of the time, too.

For the moment, though, I love him, because he’s doing Carole King, which, as David reminds us (not in a nasty way. David’s better than that.) does not begin with “Tapestry”, but, rather, with “Writer”, which is always flying under my radar.

And yes, I could avoid this whole problematic relationship, by just going to link and reading about her whole career and discography, but that’s a place of collective knowledge and opinion. And while it does have its virtues, it does sometimes result in each record in an artist’s discography viewed as being the best, because each review is written by someone different. Sometimes it’s better to just have one consistent viewpoint taking on each record, one after the other (after the other).

So long live David. He makes me feel like shit. He makes me feel great. And, him being the nice guy that he is, I’m sure this is all very, very important to him.

Plus he uses the baby’s picture in his profile.  (Oh, David, I so want to hate you. Why do you make it so hard?)

Come on David, do Elton John next. I dare you!

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