Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This post is ridiculous. It might make some readers mad, either because it mentions someone they adore, or because they'll see it for it really is: a waste of time. But I was thinking today how much I just don't like David Byrne or any of his projects. Sure, there's the occasional Talking Heads song I've enjoyed, but even their radio hits (or is it hit? "Psycho Killer"? Are there others?) I find at best boring, and at worst positively grating. So why do I respect and even admire Byrne*?

Byrne's bands are not alone. There's Sonic Youth, for example. I enjoyed that one song from the early nineties, the one with Kathleen Hanna in the video, and to be entirely honest, I might have enjoyed it simply because Kathleen Hanna was in the video. Beyond that, though, I can't think of many successful bands I find more irritating. However, I consider every member of that band to be something of a musical, well, genius maybe.

And these acts are not only in the avant-garde, to be sure. There's--let's see--Operation Ivy. Widely hailed, and so. Freaking. Grating. Just the same, I love them in principle. I'd probably even wear a T-shirt with that dancing fedora guy on it. I keep mentioning them in my current WIP. Why?!

There are other bands that are widely hailed, and that I can't stand, and that's the end of the story, such as U2. Loads of serious music heads like and respect those guys. I don't, and I'm okay with it. So why are Op Ivy, Sonic Youth, and David Byrne a different story? Is it simply that I know how critically important those acts are, and so I (subconsciously, I suppose) have decided I respect them? Or is it something more?

I think, and certainly hope, it's something more. I think I have a deep respect for artists that step out from the crowd and lead the way a little bit: even if I don't love the results, the very act of sticking the nose out is worth a load of respect, more than I'd reserve for some artists whose music I actually enjoy but who, when you get right down to it, haven't done anything particularly new or interesting.

So the question is, does this apply to other art, as well? And apropos of my field, does it apply specifically to fiction?

The questions I posed here are rhetorical. I don't have answers. You probably don't either. But hell, I'd be happy to consider any answers that come along.

*This is just to say that I have lately begun to respect Byrne for his pursuits outside of music per se, and that's not what I'm talking about here.