Paul Simon: Genius or Wanker?

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Paul Simon: Genius or Wanker?

Genius.
35
63%
Wanker.
21
38%
 
Total votes: 56

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bobzilla77
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Postby bobzilla77 » 03 Jul 2007, 21:34

I remember an interview with Ry Cooder in which he was laying into Omara Portuando for wanting to sound like Barbara Streisand, one of her favorite singers. Ry's point was she should stick to what makes her unique and special. Frankly I thought he was full of crap. Another argument that musicians should be limited in where they're allowed to take influence from. So is Portuondo a cultural imperialist? What are the implications of her using the music of American Jewish culture?


Indeed it's far more appropriate that she should receive direction from a more respectable, white, male American, such as Ry Cooder.

Ya know, the Minutemen stole funk from the black man, as the Pop Group did before them. In a way that's the same thing. And yet, nobody is going to confuse a Minutemen record with a Rick James one. It's a lift, but it's not a complete and total one.

By the same token, there's nothing morally wrong with Paul Simon using African forms & musicians if it inspires him to do original work.

Whether the listener will think it's good, bad, indifferent, a watered down version of the real thing, better than the real thing, a genius melding of the best parts of human expression from around the world, is another thing.
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Postby Magilla » 03 Jul 2007, 21:46

...and back to Mr Simon. I reckon he's a very talented chap, but a genius? Not a shit-show.

Great to see the Pop Group and the Minutemen mentioned above!
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Postby take5_d_shorterer » 03 Jul 2007, 22:09

Velvis wrote:By the way, liking or disliking music for political reasons is utter, utter foolishness.


I would extend this thought further:

art and politics are very separate realms. The first is basically irrational and amoral. That doesn't mean it's bad; it means that the reasons you like or dislike it are pretty much beyond proof and explanation on any deep level.

The second topic--politics--is all about rational discourse and morality if it's to have any positive effect at all. Politics, that is, public policy for the public good, is about figuring out what the public good is and how to serve it well.

Once you start to delegate that task and that responsibility to whether a song makes you feel good or not, you're just asking for it.


People who try to make art tell them what to think politically don't understand (or don't want to understand) how art is individual, amoral, and irrational and how politics is public, profoundly moral, and with any luck, based on rationality.

Ditto for people who try to make politics tell them what art to like.

To steal a quote (about Sandy Koufax) from Stengel, using politics to tell you what to think about art (or vice versa) is like trying to drink coffee with a fork.

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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 03 Jul 2007, 22:21

Yes yes yes, but if we consider the lyrics of popular music are sometimes used to make political points - extensions of the singer or group's own views, quite often - then the two are in fact combined in a way that makes it impossible to look at the 'art' in a detached way.

Sneelock

Postby Sneelock » 03 Jul 2007, 22:32

maybe it's wrong but people do it.
I was allowed no Jane Fonda movies because of Jane Fonda's politics.
wrong or not, it was THEIR house.

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Postby Count Machuki » 03 Jul 2007, 22:34

Sneelock is a Wanker wrote:maybe it's wrong but people do it.
I was allowed no Jane Fonda movies because of Jane Fonda's politics.
wrong or not, it was THEIR house.


simon is only allowed in my house in conjunction with garfunkel.
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Postby take5_d_shorterer » 03 Jul 2007, 22:35

Velvis wrote:By the way, liking or disliking music for political reasons is utter, utter foolishness.


There's another way of making this point that is different and more concise from my previous post.

Music and art aren't meant to confirm. They aren't meant to unless you want to use them as in a weak sense like a campaign song. Their point is not to tell you that you have good politics or that you're a good person.

The point of music is to tell you something different from what you already know, and if you listen closely what you will find is just how amoral it is.

Miles Davis is a good example. There's extensive documentation that he was a wife beater and a genuinely vicious person in other ways. You can't find it, though, in the music, nor can you find it in listeners. Just because someone listens to Miles Davis doesn't mean he or she approves of his wife beating. Just because someone listens to Robert Wyatt doesn't mean that he or she agrees with Wyatt's politics. I can't remember whether it was a year ago or what, but I was talking with Unlucky B. about Wyatt, and I remember him saying," the man's brilliant; of course, his politics are daft." What Yompi said makes perfect sense to me. One may like the music despite the extramusical baggage of the performer.

P.S. to Coan. Surely there are songs by The Fall whose lyrics you wouldn't want to use as a recipe for how to live your life. Yet, you listen to them and enjoy them, right?

Let's take M.E. Smith as a larger example. One need not like anything about the individual in order to like the music.

Music and the way it hits you really does float free of these other aspects.

Sneelock

Postby Sneelock » 03 Jul 2007, 22:36

yeah, sometimes.
and sometimes it doesn't.
depends on the listener.

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Postby Guy E » 03 Jul 2007, 22:48

Back in late '76 (or maybe it was early '77) my brother and I were at CBGB's for a Talking Heads gig. We'd made reservations so we had a table, but at one point we went outside to get some fresh air and have a cheap deli beer on the street. When we returned there was a couple sitting at our table, which was a very uncool and uncivilized no-no (CBGB's was not the anarchic environment you might imagine after 30-years of historic revisionism).

I was marching towards the interlopers and was about to give the yutz a pointed tap on the shoulder when Hilly Kristal's daugher intercepted me. She apologized profusely for usurping our table, but explained that she had no choice and offered my (16-year old) brother and I a few free beers to make amends. I looked over from a new angle and saw that it was Paul Simon and his then-girlfriend Shelly Duval.

So, I like a lot of his songs and S&G recorded some real classics, but WANKER! just on personal and moral grounds (rich celebrity cunt).

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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 03 Jul 2007, 23:17

Sneelock is a Wanker wrote:yeah, sometimes.
and sometimes it doesn't.
depends on the listener.


That's about the size of it, isn't it?

If you find a person especially objectionable, can you continue to enjoy their art? It does get in the way sometimes, if you're 'human' in your appreciation of it.

Bungo the Mungo

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 03 Jul 2007, 23:18

Guy E wrote:Back in late '76 (or maybe it was early '77) my brother and I were at CBGB's for a Talking Heads gig. We'd made reservations so we had a table, but at one point we went outside to get some fresh air and have a cheap deli beer on the street. When we returned there was a couple sitting at our table, which was a very uncool and uncivilized no-no (CBGB's was not the anarchic environment you might imagine after 30-years of historic revisionism).

I was marching towards the interlopers and was about to give the yutz a pointed tap on the shoulder when Hilly Kristal's daugher intercepted me. She apologized profusely for usurping our table, but explained that she had no choice and offered my (16-year old) brother and I a few free beers to make amends. I looked over from a new angle and saw that it was Paul Simon and his then-girlfriend Shelly Duval.

So, I like a lot of his songs and S&G recorded some real classics, but WANKER! just on personal and moral grounds (rich celebrity cunt).


Indeed!

Weren't they both in 'Annie Hall'? Wonder if they met there...

Bungo the Mungo

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 03 Jul 2007, 23:20

take5_d_shorterer wrote:P.S. to Coan. Surely there are songs by The Fall whose lyrics you wouldn't want to use as a recipe for how to live your life. Yet, you listen to them and enjoy them, right?

Let's take M.E. Smith as a larger example. One need not like anything about the individual in order to like the music.

Music and the way it hits you really does float free of these other aspects.


The example you cite - of taking lyrics personally as a sort of life-advice - is specific. I was thinking about the character and behaviour of the artist adversely affecting your enjoyment of their work. Of course this sometimes happens.

I know people - intelligent, well-rounded enough - who will not watch Woody Allen films because of his supposed wrongdoings.

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Postby toomanyhatz » 03 Jul 2007, 23:28

Personally I love Wagner operas, but the man was such an anti-semite that he supposedly wore gloves when conducting music by Mendelssohn, lest the "jewishness" rub off from merely touching the scores.

"Wanker" is nowhere near a strong enough word.

I agree with Ken.

And while we're at it, LMG can be quite witty at times.
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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 03 Jul 2007, 23:40

Sir John Coan wrote:
take5_d_shorterer wrote:P.S. to Coan. Surely there are songs by The Fall whose lyrics you wouldn't want to use as a recipe for how to live your life. Yet, you listen to them and enjoy them, right?

Let's take M.E. Smith as a larger example. One need not like anything about the individual in order to like the music.

Music and the way it hits you really does float free of these other aspects.


The example you cite - of taking lyrics personally as a sort of life-advice - is specific. I was thinking about the character and behaviour of the artist adversely affecting your enjoyment of their work. Of course this sometimes happens.

I know people - intelligent, well-rounded enough - who will not watch Woody Allen films because of his supposed wrongdoings.


Ken - I read your post again and I missed some of your points. You make a lot of sense, but I still think you're talking about an ideal appreciation of music which many - rightly or wrongly - can't go for, because of 'outside interference'.

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Postby Velvis » 03 Jul 2007, 23:49

It helps when you don't even try to form opinions, pro or con, about a musician's character. I mean, what's the point? Are we going to be hanging out with him/her/them? No. Unless some fannish groupie behavior is involved. Then why not just let the music do the talking.

Music fans, as has been said, only seem to have this character-vetting requirement in the case of living or roughly contemporary artists. But we're willing to gaive a pass to people like Wagner, who lived more than a century ago. Why? I don't know. It doesn't make sense to me, except in the sense that rock fans have a need to have some identification element with their idols. Then they feel jilted if the icon doesn't live up to their personalized expectations of character.

Bungo the Mungo

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 03 Jul 2007, 23:52

Ask Fartpants about Blur. I'd be willing to bet he quite likes a couple of their songs, but can't bring himself to admit it 'cos he hates Albarn so much.

I dislike Radiohead for similar reasons. Daft it may be. I can't help myself.

Bungo the Mungo

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 03 Jul 2007, 23:55

Anyway - the character of the artist often comes across in their music. All this talk of 'separation' is therefore redundant in most cases.

Look at Springsteen. Man, artist - one and the same. If he turned out to be a Bush-supporting weed who always really wanted to work in a library, we'd be shocked and disappointed. And his record sales would plummet.

Face facts.

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Postby Leg of lamb » 03 Jul 2007, 23:57

The Miles Davis example is pretty interesting. I think the music sounds so far away from being made by a wifebeater that the notion just doesn't register. And I think this kind of makes Ken's point - we're only really repelled by music in a 'moral' sense when it sounds something like the moral wrong we're condemning (in a really vague and metaphorical sense). There's not too much of a leap between listening to Skrewdriver and identifying them as Nazis. There's a massive leap between listening to Sketches of Spain and saying 'Hey, this guy slapped about his woman!'.

The point that hasn't been made is that maybe our ethical judgements are just as non-cognitive as our musical responses. So when it takes an effort of rational (perhaps counter-intuitive) will to link up the artist with a reason to disapprove of them, we can come up short.

I realise that there are counter-examples, like the many people who are uncomfortable listening to Michael Jackson now. It's not as if any of his music 'sounds' like paedophilia. But maybe there's something in what I'm suggesting.
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Postby Velvis » 03 Jul 2007, 23:58

Sir John Coan wrote:
Look at Springsteen. Man, artist - one and the same. If he turned out to be a Bush-supporting weed who always really wanted to work in a library, we'd be shocked and disappointed. And his record sales would plummet.

Face facts.


Kinda stingy toward his band members, ain't he? Still great records.

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Postby Ray K. » 04 Jul 2007, 00:09

Velvis wrote:
Sir John Coan wrote:
Look at Springsteen. Man, artist - one and the same. If he turned out to be a Bush-supporting weed who always really wanted to work in a library, we'd be shocked and disappointed. And his record sales would plummet.

Face facts.


Kinda stingy toward his band members, ain't he? Still great records.


I'd wager he's a card carring GOP member... after a certain income I think it just comes naturally - even if you keep it in the closet. He knows who is buttering his bread.