Friday, March 31, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

Have you discovered iTunes yet?

[Note to younger people: buy the music, support the artists, especially those who are independents! They need your support. End of sermon.]

One thing about iTunes they don't tell you: nostalgia is reasonable.

(Peter Gabriel. front man of Genesis, circa 1970)

These Apple people keep adding more and more music to the iTunes store-even stuff that's ancient history. Lately, I've been downloading some relics of the past- real guilty pleasures. The Rolling Stones back catalog are right at the top of this list for me. Evidently I am not alone in guilty pleasures.

A friend of mine recently confessed to purchasing, on the cheap through a European iTunes-like service, old rock songs from Genesis. There was a tinge of guilt when he asked if it was normal to be revisiting the music of the past. Of course it's normal, I replied. Nothing wrong with walking down the old nostalgic path, as long as you don't try to live there.

Important note to music snobs: all of us have guilty pleasures when it comes to music. All of us have found pleasure in pop music from time to time. Admit it now and feel better.

Genesis was an art rock band (much like Pink Floyd) before they became corporate FM hitmakers producing painful hits like Invisible Touch and I Can't Dance. This artful era Genesis was the music of our youth.
Just like any teenagers, we idolized Genesis and especially their strange front man, Peter Gabriel. No wonder! Gabriel took to wearing outrageous costumes on stage and at one point sported a haircut that had a small section of his head shaved. Rumors in the press suggested that he was mentally ill. This added to the Gabriel mythos.

(LEFT. Ok, the guy was a little wacky.)

One of our friends got us started on this environmental kick where we revered nature and hated all developments, especially cities. Somehow, we saw all these man-made structures as being destructive to the ultimate beauty and harmony of nature. Long, arduous hikes in Kanawha State Forest were seen as a part of this ideology that sometimes seemed to border on a theology. This wasn't a forest, but a refuge, a sanctuary, and a place to commune with something higher than oneself. Yes, now it sounds ridiculous, but back then we placed all this radical environmental ideology into the music, interpreting lyrics as a sign that Genesis felt the same way we did.

My friend and I have long past these foolish youthful ideas. Eno talks about gracefully giving up "the baggage of youth."Still, I find myself looking at the Stones' back catalog every time I wander into Best Buy. There I look again and again at Some Girls, Goat's Head Soup and Steel Wheels. I finally came to the conclusion that purchasing an entire $13.99 CD is stupid. iTunes will let me download the songs I want at 99 cents a pop. Fine with me.

My friend's conclusion after all this: some of this old music is just unlistenable. Good thing it was cheap.

If you're going to get nostalgic:

don't spend a lot of money.


Anonymous said...

If you really want to go back to high school, check out the Genesis videos on

Anonymous said...

Dude --

Thanks for the bloggish reply. Did you e-mail me? My drive crashed about 2 weeks ago, and I've not been able to get mail at the address.

Good advice to go to iTunes, where the artists get a cut.

Google maps has no hi-res images of KC and charlie town, but does have them for Kanawha State Forest. I spent an hour looking up the old wooded haunts.

More later,


Anonymous said...

Rolf Lislevand; look him up.

Van Der Graaf Generator did a record last year you'll thank yourself for looking up as well.