Monday, July 13, 2009

Wipe Out Disco In Our Lifetime

I saw the title of this post spray painted on the wall of an elementary school in Queens, New York during the late Seventies. Over at Reason they are discussing the 1979 riot at Comiskey Park as rocks rebellion against disco. After disco's recent rehabilitation the riot may now be considered racist because of its identification as a black, Hispanic and gay music.

As someone who was very musically aware in the Seventies, I can assure you that disco, regardless of its affiliation with any downtrodden social group, sucked - as did the miserable corporate rock of the same era (think Fleetwood Mac). My personal reaction to the prevailing musical tastes of that period was to embrace the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and the Clash. While I never adopted the nihilistic punk lifestyle, I certainly enjoyed the music. Punk had that essential element of all great rock music – it scared you - just a little.

But what really disturbs me is that some revisionist fool feels compelled to explain the music of the Seventies through the lense of white oppression. What total nonsense! Am I a racist because I don’t like rap or hip hop? Am I so ignorant of rock music history that I am completely unaware of the huge influences exerted by Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and the Black Church, just to mention a few? And how are you going to pigeon hole me when you find my sizable collection of John Coltrane?

I once had lunch with a gentleman who was an opera devotee and whose opinion on musical matters I greatly valued. During our conversation, I made the mistake of saying that there were only two kinds of music – good music and bad music. He chuckled and said while he agreed that there were only two kinds of music, he was of the opinion that it was music you liked and music you didn’t like.

Sometimes it really is just that simple.

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