Why Taking The Piss Out Of Your Most Beloved Musicians Is Healthy
A few days back I wrote a less-than-excited review of Bruce Springsteen's latest album, Wrecking Ball. The Boss' official Twitter account has been retweeting every hyperbolic 140-character superfan review of the new disc. One guy claimed that Wrecking Ball made him sob on the side of the highway for close to half an hour.
Born to run set me free; born in USA made me care; Nebraska made me think; working on dream made me happy #WreckingBall comes full circle
Cool. I can relate. Just not with Wrecking Ball. Certainly not Wrecking Ball. But that doesn't mean that I am any less of a Boss fan, or even fallen out of love with his sweaty commentary on the American working man trampled under foot by a great pair of Italian loafers.
Some people took my review as coming a from a Bruce-hating monster who hates America. How dare someone judge the Boss, this is his best collection of songs since Nebraska you dumb piece of Texas trash.
Fair enough, but being able to say "meh" to even one of your idol's pieces of art is vital to being a fan. You must be able to take the piss out of your idols to keep your love in check. Otherwise you will be constantly let down.
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You can hate the sin, but love the sinner.
Some fans will love anything that an artist puts out even if it's dogshit. I had this conflict a few weeks back when the new Van Halen hit and I got a nerd boner when I first heard a Diamond Dave "yow!" in "She's The Woman" and all could think was that they are trying to seduce me into loving an album that I shouldn't.
Like when you are trying to be mad at your girlfriend and she makes cookies wearing high heels.
I still stand behind highly caffeinated morsels like " Van Halen have made the mother all comeback albums, sounding just as vital as ever, armed with riffs that have been stored inside a time capsule from the Reagan era," though. We'll see if I stand by that in December.
I still love you, boo.
A lot of the superfans I have talked to are split when it comes to criticizing their favorite artist. Some are able to call a spade a spade and say that new material is a misstep, and will concede that you can't win them all, in bro-speak.
While others have a slavish devotion to an artist, and in the case of Bruce fans, will label every release he has ever put onto store shelves as miles ahead of the last thing that he put out and every one of those albums is in fact as great or greater than his most-critically adored works.
In the mind of a hardcore fan, Wrecking Ball is just as good as Born To Run, which in turn is just as great as Tunnel of Love. At least he's still putting out new work for us to ingest, right?
If there is no highest bar for Bruce, then where is the fun and excitement in a new album? Each one should be like a lottery scratch-off. I don't want to win back my dollar every time. Let us lose now and then.
A band like Led Zeppelin has left us nine studio albums to argue over, but there is some freak out there who will argue with for two hours at a bar that Presence kicks Led Zeppelin IV's dick in the dirt. Kind of like how my scarlet letter is liking Nine Lives better than Toys In The Attic, and openly admitting it.
What I forget is that it's my job to at least try to find fault in everything I listen to or see in concert. I didn't care for Radiohead's The King of Limbs, but that doesn't mean I didn't try for a week to like it.
This is also conversely fits to an artist's personal and political views. I love Ted Nugent's music and agree with maybe 65 percent of his worldvies -- which is already frightening enough to some -- but I don't let my disagreement with his batshit ideas contort my love of "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang."
I don't like Mitt Romney in the slightest, but I smiled a lot during his vocal cheerleader Kid Rock's set last week at RodeoHouston. All of this could be an indictment of the underlying idiocy right under my skin that I can't hide. Which is another story.
When artists release shit albums, it reminds us of their humanity, just as a regular Joe fumbling something on the job site would as well. Though no one in the Rolling Stones lost three fingers and an eye when they released Steel Wheels.
Resolve to always be evenhanded when it comes to even your favorite artists, and point out their mistakes with as much fervor as you would praise their home runs. It makes life interesting, and you will get into more arguments.
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