Music writers are bombarded with deadwood clichés, which usually arrive in gloriously overdone press releases as we go about our day-to-day rat-killing. But out in public or in the comments sections below our blog posts, we often get blandishments like "they're the greatest band ever out of Houston" about some band that has been together for about 20 minutes and once opened for [fill-in-the-blank].
But the one that probably grates on us the most is "it's all about the music." Seldom do we have a flare up of disagreement - or all-out flame war - without someone throwing that meaningless golden chestnut out as a solution to the argument.
Most people Rocks Off hears saying "it's all about the music" fall into four categories: Pollyanna fools who haven't the slightest clue about the business of music; trust-fund babies who don't need to make money from their music 'cause daddy's got 'em covered; promoters who try to act like they aren't in the business for the money; or people who don't like to have to think too hard about the relative merits of one artist/piece of music versus another. These are often people who disagree with reviews or some other form of critical analysis.
Rocks Off originally wrote for the Dallas Web site Rockzillaworld, which was overrun with "music fans" who used to engage in long, endless chat-thread arguments about "it's all about the music."
We can remember several people: A wannabe writer/wannabe player in the music biz who had all the critical thinking ability of a four-year-old and eventually gave up "writing" to just compile a music calendar; a "Texas music artist" who wanted to seem above it all but who would actually have given his right testicle to be taken seriously as an arbiter of taste; and another wannabe writer who thought saying "it's all about the music" in a gruff voice fit the dumbass Dallas John-Wayne-at-the-Alamo persona he was trying to project as the protector of all things Texas.
Most of it was beyond pathetic, circular and transparent.
Trust-fund kids get to act like they're above it all. They're the ones who come to their gigs in designer torn jeans and act like they haven't eaten in a day or two. It's all about "their art," and they couldn't be bothered - actually, they just want to appear like they couldn't be bothered - with hustling the way you have to hustle to make it. There's a whole bunch of these guys and gals in the Texas music herd who went into it because they had a financial fallback position if they didn't make it in music.
Rocks Off can think of at least two relatively new acoustic listening venues in town where the promoters wear the "it's all about the music" mask. Whatever. Like Woody Guthrie said, "if you ain't got the do-re-mi, boys..." They don't call it the music business for nothing.
But Rocks Off holds our biggest disdain for the people who don't like to evaluate, think through, criticize (shrug of shoulders), but who will in turn whine, gripe, bitch, complain and otherwise add their two cents about music writers being critical, evaluating, comparing, contrasting, especially if the writer has written negatively about something they like. These are the morons who will almost always say, "Why can't we all just get along?" That's what the Romans said to the Goths, but it didn't work out too well.
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Let's face it; some bands should not play in public. Some bands should not release CDs. Some bands should pawn their equipment and go work at a car wash. Many times, people who don't like to have to think too hard about the relative merits of one artist or piece of music versus another are 1) the band's manager ("I know this guy!"), 2) fans of someone for personal rather than artistic reasons (mom, girlfriend, boyfriend, coworker); or 3) just plain without much critical thinking capacity vis a vis music.
They usually post messages that read something like: "I would like to see all bands come together and support each other. Country, Rock, Indie, Blues. Let's all work together. Let's support live music. It's music. Let's all pull together."
Speaking of pulling together, music critics have as much vested interest in the music scene as the musicians do. But that doesn't mean we're willing to call a cow turd a rose. Day in, day out, we give local artists a free pass by simply not reporting on or reviewing them in the hopes that their next show or recording will be better.
It's all about the music? Sure it is.