Friday Music Day: Dismantling the Canon

I don't really enjoy the Beatles.

(you've probably guessed by now that Freealonzo's stretch of FMDs is done for now. Thanks again, Free!)

Anyway, back to the Beatles. I mostly just haven't found the right way to enjoy them, I think. I've given most of their big albums (Revolver, Abbey Road, Self-titled, Sgt. Peppers, etc) a cursory listen, but the vast majority of my exposure to them has come through oldies and classic rock radios that other people have foisted on me throughout my life. This admittedly isn't the best way to gain an appreciation for an artist, but the fact remains that I find most of the Beatles music cheesy.

The melodies that everyone on earth raves about don't really do anything for me (I've heard them before from other bands, and yes those other bands picked up on them here, but influence doesn't equal enjoyment for me), the lyrics often times make me roll my eyes so hard I fear they'll explode out the back of my head (I do like "Hard Day's Night" for the most part, but the "working like a dog/sleeping like a log" rhyme drives me nuts). I can respect their influence and do have select songs that I like quite a bit, but on the whole....I can see what the fuss is about, but it just doesn't do all that much for me.

So, two questions.

  1. Where is a good entry point for this band?
  2. What universally adored music do you find yourself skipping past?

Also, drop your ten.

EDIT: I completely forgot to plug the series of blog posts that made me think to write this. Check out Beau's ongoing "every beatles song, ranked" series.

69 thoughts on “Friday Music Day: Dismantling the Canon”

  1. * A Curse - The Body - All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood
    * Obvious - Jane's Addiction - Ritual de lo Habitual
    * Mara - The Haxan Cloak - Excavation
    * Size Queen - Kyuss - And the Circus Leaves Town
    * In Vain - Georg Friedrich Haas - In Vain
    * Clawless - Gowns - Red State
    * TV Star - Butthole Surfers - Electriclarryland
    * Thwack - Marcel Fengler - Thwack
    * Gone Away - The Offspring - Ixnay on the Hombre
    * Comeback Kid - Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror

    QUESTION 2 -
    The Beatles
    The Who
    The Clash
    Metallica (this was more true back when everyone liked them - but I had to defend my disinterest more than once back then)
    Sigur Ros (the number of times they have been recommended without my getting it gets them on the list)

    1. I truly love Sigur Ros, but I'm always more surprised when someone shares that loves than I am when they scratch their head and shrug at it.

      I played "Njosnavelin" (Untitled 4 from ( ) )for for my dad once, and his nonplussed response was pretty amazing.

  2.     a. Snowy Owl “Male Territorial Hoot” (Voices of North American Owls)
        b. Lincoln's Sparrow “Song” (Cornell Master Set)
    1. The Breeders “Drivin' on 9” Last Splash
    2. Low “Spanish Translation” Ones and Sixes
        c. Common Nighthawk “Calls and Booming” (Cornell Essential Set)
        d. Red Crossbill “Calls, Song, and Subsong” (Cornell Master Set)
    3. Tranquility Bass “La La La (The Skull Valley High Desert Funk Mix)” Beep!!!
    4. Paul Simon “I Know What I Know” Graceland
        e. Spruce Grouse “Display Calls” (Cornell Essential Set)
        f. Greater Scaup “Calls” (Cornell Master Set)
    5. OutKast “Decatur Psalm” ATLiens (clean)

    6. Fog “Pneumonia”* Fog
        g. Carolina Chickadee “Gurgling Calls with Odd Twittering Introduction” (Cornell Master Set)
        h. Marbled Godwit “Calls Given During Territorial Chase” (Cornell Master Set)
    7. Steve Reich “It's Gonna Rain, Part II”* Early Works
        i. Tufted Titmouse “Whistled Calls and Half-Song” (Cornell Master Set)
    8. Robbie Robertson “Stomp Dance (Unity)”* Contact from the Underworld of Redboy
    9. Animaniacs* “I'm Mad” Animaniacs
        j. Red-cockaded Woodpecker “Drum” (Cornell Master Set)
    T. Black Uhuru “Fleetyfoot”* Chill Out
    E. Tricky “Makes Me Wanna Die (The Weekend Mix by Stereo MCs)” Makes Me Wanna Die CDS2

    6. Dang, I thought Andrew Broder's ramshackle scratch ballads (this and the vocal version of "Check Fraud") were the new direction for music. But he ditched the turntable and started writing less-compelling songs. The scratch solo somehow sounds like the best of pedal steel and electric guitar solos from country and rock ballads (respectively) in one nonironic take. Plus, his Minnesotan lyrics could have been lifted from my life "The casseroles were good and the drives were so nice / welcome to the worst part of your life."

    7. I'm not sure I agree with how Genius puts the fifth line:
    "Glory to God
    Had been sealed
    Couldn’t open the door
    Noah! Noah!
    They cried
    Couldn’t open the door
    Couldn’t open the door
    But sure enough

    8. Featuring the Six Nations Women Singers.

    9. I just found season 1 on DVD at Half-Priced Books. Now my kids are singing Gilbert & Sullivan songs with different lyrics.

    T. The dub version (I'm more familiar with) is "Ion Storm".

    g, i, and j are preparation for my South Carolina trip: which I leave for two weeks from today.

    1. Further thoughts on Fog:
      Invisbl Skratch Picklz and other DJs showed what turntables could do technically, but Fog was the first person to use those tools to make something that I felt had emotional resonance.

  3. #1 if you weren't old enough to enjoy them when they came out, the originality is likely lost. Same reason Citizen Kane isn't appreciated for it's groundbreaking awesomeness. If you don't like their cheesy earlier stuff, I'd start with Rubber Soul, maybe.

    #2 I don't think there is anything "universally adored" that I listen to that much. That doesn't mean I don't like any, they're just not in my favorites.

    And song for the day: Pandora threw this at me, and I liked it -- Skylark's "Virgin Green", sort of a ELP meets Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein"

    1. Actually, I was wandering around rateyourmusic yesterday, and got the idea to see what the "bottom" list for various genres would look like. Unde "Film Score" and "Video Game Music", there's not a whole lot of universally despised stuff. I would assume that if you aren't particularly moved by a soundtrack, you just don't go out of your way to listen to it, but does any soundtrack (or any composers) strike you as particularly egregious?

      1. Yes, any with vocals! I want my soundtracks to be background music.

        I have to admit, there is at least SOME track(s) that I like from a lot of different movie genres -- action, anime, period, horror, animated...I guess the least represented in my library might be comedies, now that I think of it. And btw, John Williams is the Beatles of composers 😉

  4. I've written about this in the past, particularly regarding the Beatles and Radiohead.
    I tried hard on both, and I may still have most of both bands' major albums in my iTunes. I'd rather be listening to something else. Life is short and I'm not a music theorist. Why spend my time "getting into" some overplayed pieces of canon? Plus, the Beatles probably reflect Boomer-importance-inflation as well.

    My favorite Beatles song is "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and I prefer the Breeders' cover. Cornershop's Punjabi cover of "Norwegian Wood" was enjoyable, as well.
    EAR is a fan of Hard Day's Night; it's the only physical copy from the band in our house (maybe they're on a compilation or something though).

    My favorite Radiohead was Thom Yorke's solo album. I actually have that and the remix album on CD. I also have Pablo, Honey on CD and OK Computer on Cassette.

    influence doesn't equal enjoyment for me

    1. I'd rather be listening to something else.

      That about sums up my thoughts.

      Why spend my time "getting into" some overplayed pieces of canon?

      I go back and forth on this. I don't care at all about what influence they had on later music (as you noted, I'm not a music theorist, and I'm not a critic or someone who has to worry about such matters, either), but a lot of people really like it, including a lot of peers and people that I have a lot of overlap in taste with. There have been many albums that didn't resonate with me immediately that I would consider some of my favorite albums ever (Sigur Ros took time, as did Radiohead), so I don't want to summarily dismiss anything that I don't like immediately, but then again, I've found nothing resembling an entry point so far other than the same songs everyone's heard a million times that have become so ubiquitous that they've lost their ability to stir me in any way.

    2. Plus, the Beatles probably reflect Boomer-importance-inflation as well.

      Let's be clear, the Beatles were very important, there is no inflation here. Whether their music retains its importance today is a different thing. Same with 2001: A Space Odyssey -- people might consider it boring dreck, but that doesn't negate its importance in movie making.

      1. Agreed.

        I'm certainly not discounting influence or importance, and I didn't write this to slag on revered, important bands or their fans.

        1. And I'm not discounting the fact that Boomers inflate the importance of a whole lot of stuff.

          I've seen many disagreements on when the Baby Boomer Era is, but I like to think that I am post-Boomer, even though I fall in the tail end of it.

          1. Even if the Beatles were that important to the world of the Boomers' youth, the unbiased observer must deflate that entire world to its rightful level of importance

            I don't consider you a Boomer, not that I know exactly how old you were in, say 1970.
            My folks are definite Boomers, though THR is a bit retro for his age and likes things from his childhood, not his teenaged years.
            If anyone taught me to deflate the self-described Boomer importance, it was him. Although he never would have listened to mid-80s Billy Joel, he could have written a lyric from "Keeping the Faith".

            1. I'm disregarding how important the Beatles were to the listeners, I'm talking about their importance to music in general.

              I was really too young for the much of the Beatles, but know a lot of their music from riding on the bus for many miles a day in my elementary school days. Wings were more my age, or Sweet, or Boston, or Three Dog Night.

    3. I'm not the world's biggest Radiohead fan, but these days it's easier for me to pull the trigger on listening to OK Computer or Kid A than any of the Beatles' albums, and at times I have really enjoyed the Beatles' music. I think maybe the sound just seems kind of thin on the Beatles' 50ish-year-old recordings? At the time, I bet it was pretty great.

  5. I can respect their influence and do have select songs that I like quite a bit, but on the whole....I can see what the fuss is about, but it just doesn't do all that much for me.

    This is me and the Beatles as well.

  6. 01. Meshuggah - "Sould Burn", Destroy. Erase. Improve.
    02. Cryptopsy - "Cold Hate Warm Blood", Whisper Supremacy
    03. Gojira - "Inward Movement", The Link Alive
    04. Devin Townsend - "Kingdom", Physicist
    05. Obscura - "A Transcendental Serenade", Omnivium
    06. Waylander - "The Light, The Dark and the Endless Knot", The Light, The Dark and the Endless Knot
    07. Otyg - "Myrdingar-Martyrium", Älvefärd
    08. Skyforger - "Long I Heard, Now I See", Semigalls Warchant
    09. Svartsot - "Hojen Pa Glodende Paele", Mulmets Viser
    10. Thyrfing - "Askans Rike", Valdr Galga

    Question #2 - Heh.

    1. Question #2 - Heh.

      I chuckled a bit when I thought of you answering this question.

      Though, are there any revered metal bands that you should theoretically love, but are indifferent or worse toward?

      1. That's a good question. I'm fairly out of the actual metal community; I don't go to shows or hang out on any message boards or anything like that. So its hard to say what is currently popular. I suppose something like Mastodon might be a good example of a band I'm rather indifferent to that many more seem not to be. Motorhead could probably fall on that list as well, to be honest.

  7. I've wrestled with why I love The Beatles. If you read my countdown, I have something negative to say about almost every song. I've never been a "It's important, so I appreciate it" person. Case in point I don't much care for Citizen Kane or Rear Window. I think it comes down to a couple of things. One, I like how creative they got, trying dozens of different instruments. I tend to get bored with bands that are only lead guitar, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, drums (CCR an exception). I also love Rusted Root for the same reason. Mostly though I think it boils down to the fact that I just love Paul McCartney. His voice is just so damn pleasing to me. It's why I don't hate Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da or Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time. It's one of my favorite voices ever (though admittedly, it's way past its prime now).

    With the exception of Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper, I rarely desire to listen to the albums alone, since many are just a bunch of random songs slapped together they decided not to release as singles. What I prefer to do is just take my favorite songs and put them on random.

    1. I find myself liking The Beatles a lot too. Strangely, for me, part of why I love them is sort of opposite of what you're saying here. I like that so much of what they did could now be considered "standard." But I don't love it because of that fact, I love the "standardness" of the songs themselves. They're accessible. They've got strong hooks. Solid rhythms.* I've really come to appreciate lately how much I crave both of those things. There's the different stuff they did too, and that provided a very necessary counter-point, and in that balance there is also something I appreciate. But probably not as much as I love that core accessibility of what they did.

      *I've suggested in the past that the reason I like The White Stripes more than other Jack White efforts is because Meg White's limited drumming put a type of restraint on him (akin to an editor helping an author?). Did Ringo do the same?

      1. Yeah, I'm probably more with you than I articulated. While I don't have to have accessible melodies and strong hooks, I crave them as well. Some songs are nothing but the hook and I tend to wind up disliking songs that become earworms. But I don't feel that many of the Beatles songs fall into that category.

        1. Yes! Well said on the earworm thing. It's why top 40 doesn't work for me, but I'm clearly more pop-centric than others 'round these parts.

  8. Back in high school, I had all the Beatles' songs in two volumes of sheet music for the piano. I enjoyed playing it then and I enjoy playing some of it (much less often) these days. I used to play a lot of their later stuff ('66+) on a stereo in the background while I did homework. These days, I barely listen to them at all.

    My recommendations would be Abbey Road and Let It Be, and to a lesser extent Revolver, Rubber Soul, and Sgt. Pepper's.

  9. As for #2, I've always been that way with Robert Johnson's music. Apparently they've discovered that they music has been played back at too fast of a tempo all this time, so I think I'd like to hear his recordings at the right tempo. Actually, looking into it now, YouTube has a bunch of slowed-down versions. This sounds so much better thanhow I've always heard it before.

    In the past, I would pretty much always prefer a cover version of anything Robert Johnson wrote than his recordings.

  10. Is there anyone in the Twins Cities Citizenry that is a good piano player and wouldn't mind tutoring me a little? I'd like to learn a song for the wedding as a surprise.

  11. I haven't done this in a while...

    1. The Flaming Lips - "Slow Nerve Action" - Transmissions From The Satellite Heart
    2. Belle & Sebastian - "I'm A Cuckoo" - Dear Catastrophe Waitress
    3. Lou Reed - "Perfect Day" - Transformer
    4. The Bottle Rockets - "Radar Gun" - The Bottle Rockets and the Brooklyn Side
    5. The Jayhawks - "Poor Little Fish" - Sound of Lies

    6. Dinosaur Jr. - "I Don't Think So" - Without A Sound
    7. Wilco - "Art Of Almost" - The Whole Love
    8. The Strokes - "Killing Lies" - First Impressions of Earth
    9. Nirvana - "Dumb" - In Utero
    10. Run The Jewels - "Blockbuster Night Part 1" - Run The Jewels 2

    I can't think of any universally adored music that I intentionally avoid, though there are those that I enjoy more than others. I didn't really get into Nirvana as much when they were huge even though I was into a lot of the bands that were part of that scene, but I have grown to appreciate them much more in the past ten years or so.

    I remember Joe Posnanski going off several years ago about how he didn't get Wilco. Interestingly that's what made me decide to listen to Wilco deeply for about a month to decide if I was able to get them (I did).

    Only somewhat related, Spotify seems to believe that I need to get into Bon Iver (I haven't).

      1. Not until I saw this but I'm not too worried about it. It's a unique password - no credit card data according to the story I saw.

    1. God, I don't Bon Iver at all. Too me it's so boring. Father John Misty does nothing for me, although Writing a Novel is a damn fine song, Also The Hold Steady is a band that I just can't get my head (ears?) around.

      1. Father John Misty does nothing for me

        If he's playing in the cities you should see him. I don't give a rats ass about his records, but his live show is pretty awesome.

        1. I did see him at Palamino Fest last fall, and yeah, it was a pretty cool performance. Didn't make me go out and buy any albums however.

        2. I have seen Father John Misty. Every time he spoke, it made me like his music a little less. He ranks up there with Don Henley on the pompous ass scale.

      2. Writing a Novel is a damn fine song
        I'll add "Hollywood Cemetery". Those are the only two songs that remain on my iPod. Which is two more than his prior band.

    1. Right there is why I love music. I love tons of the songs Meat has in his random's so we have a lot in common musically but he doesn't get Wilco and I love Wilco. Go figure.

      1. And I have this thing about the hold steady.... I saw Lftr Pllr a bunch of times in my youth. Craig must have made some deep impression, although I haven't bought the last two hold steady albums. I'll see them live whenever they're in town though.

  12. Liking or not liking The Beatles is a great discussion. Part of the problem is that we tend to judge the music in accordance with today's standards and what has come after. Unless we were there we just can't understand how much of an impact their music had on people. Today She Loves Yousounds like an up tempo simple love song. In 1964 it blew people away with it's exuberance. Remember what it was like to hear Smells Like Teen Spirit the first time on the radio? That's how people felt when She Loves You came on the radio. Up to that point you didn't know music could sound like that and you just knew popular music was never going to be the same after that. I don't think it holds up some 50 years later but Sgt. Pepper had the same impact in 1967. Like Runner, I was just a little too young to experience the Beatles during the 1960's although I do remember Strawberry Fields scaring the crap out of me as a young child when my older cousins played it.

    So admittedly I get caught up in the history of the Beatles and their absolute importance to popular culture, but also except for the goof ball songs on The White Album, there's vey few Beatles songs I don't like and still listen to The Beatles a lot. Abbey Road is my chill album and has been since I was 17 and would listen to the album stoned with headphones. Even their early stuff had hooks galore and melodies that hold up to this day. In fact I've been listening to a lot of Sloan lately and there is a direct line from 1964-66 Beatles to 2000 era Sloan.

    1. except for the goof ball songs on The White Album
      When I was checking out the Beatles the first time, I had the white album very early. So maybe all the goofball songs have biased me against any deep enjoyment of the band.

  13. Beware Of Darkness George Harrison All Things Must Pass
    Huffman Prairie Flying Field Guided By Voices Suitcase 3: Up We Go Now
    Is This Music? Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque
    Muzzle Of Bees Wilco A Ghost is Born
    The Milkman Of Human Kindness Billy Bragg Back To Basics
    Sweet Leaf Black Sabbath Black Sabbath Greatest Hits
    Act Of The Apostle II Belle & Sebastian The Life Pursuit
    MLK U2 The Unforgettable Fire
    Search and Destroy Iggy Pop Raw Power
    Kotton Krown Sonic Youth Sister
    Car Built To Spill Live
    Rattlesnake The Replacements Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash!

    1. Let's format that:

      1. Beware Of Darkness -- George Harrison -- All Things Must Pass
      2. Huffman Prairie Flying Field -- Guided By Voices -- Suitcase 3: Up We Go Now
      3. Is This Music? -- Teenage Fanclub -- Bandwagonesque
      4. Muzzle Of Bees -- Wilco -- A Ghost is Born
      5. The Milkman Of Human Kindness -- Billy Bragg -- Back To Basics
      6. Sweet Leaf -- Black Sabbath -- Black Sabbath Greatest Hits
      7. Act Of The Apostle II -- Belle & Sebastian -- The Life Pursuit
      8. MLK -- U2 -- The Unforgettable Fire
      9. Search and Destroy -- Iggy Pop -- Raw Power
      10. Cotton Krown -- Sonic Youth -- Sister

      B1. Car -- Built To Spill -- Live
      B2. Rattlesnake -- The Replacements -- Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash!

  14. I discovered this today, thanks to a FB post. I may have to move the Shat to the back seat for a while.

          1. also, for some reason (the obvious one, I guess), Deerhoof makes me think of Cibo Matto (which appeared in an episode of Buffy, playing "Sugar Water" and "Spoon" at the Bronze).

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