I’ve got a new “Think Again” column called “Rupert Murdoch and the Myriad Means of Misinformation” and it’s here.
And I did a podcast interview with World Policy Journal editor, David Andelman here about Obama’s foreign policy. (I’ve been a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute since 1985.)
I feel sorta guilty that my post on the worst songs of all time inspired such thoughtful posts by others, particularly Mike Tomasky in the Guardian, and this really smart guy in something called, I kid you not, “Flowering Toilet.”
The latter even did me the favor of dating each song and adding the artist. So check them out there if you’re curious/sadistic. And he should feel free to do the same with the below. In the meantime, there is a great deal more to be said about the question of what qualifies and why, but I’m too lazy to do it here and so a few small points in response:
1) Tomasky is defending “sentiment.” That’s fine. I can be as sentimental as the next guy. I cry when they sing “La Marseilles” in “Casablanca” and when Jimmy Stewart’s friends come through at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “I’m the son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp” makes me tear up every time it shows up on my iPod. What I object to is the cheap exploitation of sentiment, which alas, is the basis of so much American “entertainment” and, as I think about it, a pretty good dividing line between the likes of say, Hank/Patsy/Merle/George and so many of their big-hatted counterparts of today. But anyway, that’s going off topic. And I am staying largely away from country music because as Jackson Browne says, “it’s such a fine line….” But the point is, sentiment has to be earned, which is why I put “Imagine” as the unchallenged #1 worst song of all time. (A truer version would have replaced the line: “Imagine no possessions” with “Imagine an apartment in the Dakota just for the storage of my furs. Oh wait, I have one of those aready.”)
Anyway, I largely concur with Mr. FT that objective criteria in music are chimerical, which is not to say they are not there. (God is not definable. Does that determine His absence definitively? Of course not. God’s existence or lack thereof is independent of our ability to define it. And it’s the same with music. This point was originally driven home to me when, as a teenager, I called up the great DJ, Jonathan Schwartz to berate him on the air for “selling out” by leaving WNEW-FM where he could play all kinds of cool stuff for WNEW-AM where he played lots of Sinatra-style songs. He lectured me on the air that he played “good” music, period, and I should maybe open my ears a little. Boy was he right and I wrong. As someone who thought he was too cool to like Led Zepplin in junior high—and hence, blew his only chance to see the band–I look back on my past music snobbery/narrow-mindedness in sorrow and shame. And in that spirit, I will take up Tomasky’s challenge and submit myself to universal ridicule for really liking the following: