Hello Reader editors:
Just read the Jim DeRogatis review of the Fred Goodman book (The Mansion on the Hill) in the March 14 Reader, and I have a little free advice for Jim: lighten up. If I may quote, “…in a postmodern era when critics have long since accepted that nothing is really unique or original…the greatest artists have simply been the most talented synthesists.” I will give Jim credit for piling an enormous amount of shit very high with only a handful of words, a talent not to be overlooked by critics (that’s me) of folks penning criticism (that’s you, James) of yet another music critic (the aforementioned Mr. Goodman). But Jim, these greatest artists (Beck and Dylan?) are determined by exactly who? You?
If you write it, they will read it, and I did. However, determining the greatest artists is not for the critic, but instead for the individual listener (duh). Jim, Beck may be one of your favorite musical artists, and other critics may join you in pronouncing the arrival of the great Beck, but so what? You’re just another guy hogging the listening station at Tower to me, so get your ass out of the way fella so we masses can be educated.
Several years ago I went to a lecture by the “great” Dave Marsh on a book he had written concerning the 100 greatest rock singles. When he finished, I asked him if these were his favorite 100 singles, and if not, wondered how he had assembled such a list? I thought this a good question, as I’d like a little insight into the egos of those busy defining great art for me. He told me to fuck off, which is the second bit of advice I now pass on to you, Jim, again at no charge. Remember what the Rolling Stones said about rock ‘n’ roll. Nuff said.