Fargo-Rock-City

I still possess 98 percent of the music I’ve purchased (or dubbed) over the past fifteen years. However, I probably have access to less than 2 percent of the videos I’ve seen in that period, and it’s likely I’ll never see most of them again.
— 

This is a quote from Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City, a book that just turned 10 this May, and it’s astounding how antiquated this quote sounds now. I’m going to look at 3 specific points where this passage is hopelessly dated:

  • “of the music I’ve purchased”: How much music that we hear on a given day is music that we’ve actually purchased, especially with the advent and popularity of services like Spotify? Additionally, what percentage of today’s youth actually buys their music? It’s easy to forget when cloistered in a cocoon of music enthusiasts and vinyl collectors that teens in 2011 are masters of Mediafire and Rapidshare, and that my 12 year old sister can find, download, install, and dispose of a torrent file with her eyes closed.
  • (or dubbed)”: This conjures up the mental image of two people sitting together, one with a cassette/CD player and the other with a tape recorder, transferring music by actually playing it out loud. Is that how it worked? If this concept is laughable for me, it must be unfathomable for anyone younger.
  • and it’s likely I’ll never see most of them again”: Within 5 years of Fargo Rock City’s publication, YouTube had been created and sold to Google for $1.65 billion. Now, after 10 years, it’s omnipresent and routinely taken for granted. It represents the maturation of the Internet, having travelled from concept to young sensation to an entrenched, dominant entity. This quote is a reminder of the absurdity of YouTube’s existence. Klosterman’s “job” as one of the foremost cultural critics/enthusiasts is to consider events, place them in a historical context, and offer an interesting alternative perspective. The idea of an all-encompassing video repository, based on the Internet, was apparently so outlandish in 2001 that seeing certain videos for a second time was outside the realm of possibility - and this is for someone whose livelihood is based upon thinking outside the box and crafting weird ideas!

I’d like to pose an intriguing question for the next 5-10 years. Given that technological growth has thus far adhered to an exponential model (e.g. Moore’s law), how long will it take before similar quotes from 2011 sound just as ridiculous? The hyper-acceleration of culture has begun to place works from our very recent past (<10 years ago) in danger of invalidation, and this problem only threatens to become worse - that’s a scary thought.

If there was ever an illustration of how remarkably impressionable teenagers are, it is the success of Rage Against The Machine. I cannot fathom fourteen year olds jumping around their bedroom screaming about “profits for the bourgeois” but it obviously must happen- When de la Rocha sings “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” I doubt many eighth graders consider the plight of Mexican freedom fighter, most probably just refuse to do their geometry homework.
—  Chuck Klosterman

Who’d have thought that a book whose cover boasts a photo of a cow’s head would get me interested in listening to Guns n’ Roses (a whole lot of bands) again? Been spending my post-academics bum time catching up on music/culture-related reading. That, along with watching movies and television series and coming up with new music. Right now, it feels so light it’s heavy. As for the title, of the book, look it up: “Fargo Rock City” by Chuck Klosterman. If you love rock music in particular and don’t mind sitting around a few days with an open book to your face, check out Klosterman. So far, he juxtaposed Axl Rose with Kurt Cobain and later on, to Bono. He also discussed the power dynamic of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in KISS. Oh, he also pointed out how closeted homosexuals find great appeal in Morrissey. I’m barely halfway through the book and I guess I should be glad that I’m far from finishing.

Also as an afterthought, I saw a music-related film called “It Might Get Loud,” featuring Led Zep’s Jimmy Page, U2’s The Edge and The White Stripe’s Jack White. The three guitarists come together to have a little chat about their experiences with the electric guitar. You get three different perspectives from guitarists situated in very different contexts. You’ll get what I mean when you hear them speak. I shall avoid spoiling too much.

As a friend of mine said, watching it would inspire me to play guitar again. So I saw it and I did get inspired. I was jamming to Led Zeppelin’s “The Rover” less than two days after seeing it. Being mainly a keyboardist/pianist, getting more serious with my guitar playing is a big step for me as a musician (I’m patting myself on the shoulder as I type this).

Looking forward to further self-enrichment in the coming days and weeks. There’s so much to learn out there. So much to become and grow into as well. I want all of it.

Try to look at it like this: I love Radiohead. I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that Radiohead is the best working band I’ve experienced since I started listening to music 18 years ago. And even though they get bushels of positive press coverage, I think they’re still slightly underrated; people don’t seem to realize they’ve made the best record in the world during three different years (1995, 1997, and 2000). Sometimes, Thom Yorke is perfect. We are watching a band that’s at least as good as The Who. But you know what? I could never love Radiohead as much as I loved Mötley Crüe. I could never love Radiohead as much as Mötley Crüe because I’ll never be 15 again. I can certainly appreciate Radiohead, but they’re not an extension of my life. No rock band ever will be again. For 99 percent of the populace (myself included), that kind of mystical connection can only happen during those terrible, magical years when you somehow convince yourself that a guy like Nikki Sixx understands you. And it didn’t matter if Nikki didn’t write with the poetic prowess of Paul Westerberg; for me, he may as well have been Paul McCartney. It’s all about timing, you know?
—  excerpt from Chuck Klosterman’s “Fargo Rock City”
What music “means” is almost completely dependent on the people who sell it and the people who buy it, not the people who make it. Our greatest artists are the ones who understand how they can be interesting and unique within those limitations.
—  Chuck Klosterman, Fargo Rock City
Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City is One of Pitchfork’s All-Time Favorite Music Books

Chuck Klosterman’s first memoir, Fargo Rock City, about his unabashed love for ‘80s metal, that most discredited of musical genres, was named to Pitchfork’s list of Favorite Music Books. With insanely riveting prose, Klosterman makes a personal case for the importance of this thoroughly uncool music that had a profound effect on him—and on millions of other teenagers during its commercial peak. Fargo Rock City, soon to be a major motion picture co-written by the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, is not simply a memoir about a musial genre; it is—like much of Klosterman’s writing—about the unexpected ways that pop culture, evenly lowly hair metal, can shape a young person’s life and bring meaning to it.

From Pitchfork:

Fargo Rock City is essentially Chuck Klosterman’s long-form love letter to hair metal. And while he didn’t invent the idea of personal narrative-as-music criticism, it’s hard to imagine a lot of our finest think-piece depositories existing without the admirable standards its tangent-prone prose set before the dawn of Tumblr. It’s as anti-authoritarian as any book on this list without wallowing in self-satisfied contrarianism or academic pomp; independently voiced but accessible and nostalgic while still maintaining a salty, unromantic edge.

It doesn’t hurt to have a working knowledge of the BulletBoys’ discography or an adolescence drinking cheap beer in a rural outpost going in, but it’s hardly necessary. The import of Fargo Rock City isn’t so much what’s said about “November Rain” or North Dakota so much as flipping the script on the common gripe about music criticism that “it tells you more about the reviewer than the album”: being an authority on one’s own experiences gives anybody a right to be a part of the conversation. Klosterman’s writing here has the passion, humor, and empathy to not only excuse the solipsism but justify it.

I know enough about music to make people think I was one of the smart kids who was thinking about social alienation when everyone else was thinking about fucking. However this masquerade would crumble under scrutiny. Inevitably, I would stumble into a contradiction that would ultimately blow my cover
—  Chuck Klosterman- Fargo Rock City

“What my mom failed to understand was that I didn’t even want long hair – I needed long hair. And my desire for protracted, flowing locks had virtually nothing to do with fashion, nor was it a form of protest against the constructions of mainstream society. My motivation was far more philosophical. I wanted to rock. ”