I don’t know if you knew this about me, but I used to only listen to Christian music. It was better, I would’ve told you. It doesn’t all sound the same. There are good lyrics.
Then I only listened to noncommercial music. Anyone on a big label was NOOOOO for me. I liked acoustic, I liked songs with heart, I liked intimate live performances.
Now I listen to glam rock. There’s nothing good or bad about any of these times in my life. But I have changed my outlook on recording artists. Why do some of them take themselves so seriously? I used to write songs, too. And I took myself somewhat seriously. Well, definitely. Especially when I wrote only Christian songs.
Now’s the time to enter the smartest thing Kurt Vonnegut ever said. Ever. Well. Maybe.
I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.
Anyway, onto the list.
1. Joanna Newsome. At the top of my list is the strange-sounding songbird who plays harp very well and has descriptive complex lyrics. I read an interview with her once and she spoke with semicolons. Odd Bird. I don’t know her personally, but I think if she didn’t take herself so seriously her music would be more fun. She works with good themes. The Peach Plum Pear music video is really funny when the people are eating. I just have the sneaking suspicion it’s not meant to be. And when there’s like 9000 Joanna’s singing at once. hehe. Is she worried people will mock her?
2. Arcade Fire. There’s like 9 people in that band. How do they not laugh? They’re like, one banjo away from the New Mainstreet Singers. They got David Bowie’s approval, so they’re set for life. Why not just have fun with life? They have this thing like The Cure where I feel like I’m in a dark basement in the 80s, but instead of the basement being full of black balloons, it’s full of dead babies. Or something. Like…they all have too dark of a persona for what their music is. You know what I mean?
3. Okkervil River – I think these guys metaphorically look into the mirror of their own music for too long every morning. Concept albums. You know, concept albums can be great. Like Time (The Revelator) by Gillian Welch. But she had to work up to that. She had to be established first. You don’t try to get attention by saying “Oh I’m going to write a biographical album about some obscure person who lived an amazing life.” Or “I’m going to write an album about every state in the US” (oh my gosh, you should read about Sufjan’s hilarious existential crisis).
4. Iron and Wine. Sam Beam’s whispering voice. Lozl.
5. Bright Eyes. I saw him in Nashville. He was trying to do this whole country thing back then, but I guess that tour had a lot of him coming on stage drunk. He didn’t take his tour seriously, and then he takes himself WAY too seriously. He is just a songwriter. He writes little songs. With a lot of lyrics. And country music doesn’t need him to save it, by the way. Country music sings cliche with a winking eye. And this is a very good thing. Stop trying to make country cool, Jenny Lewis, Neko Case, and Bright Eyes. Stop it.
So yeah. Those are five people I think need a pie in the face. They’re going to look back on their lives when they’re 90 and say, why didn’t I just have fun sometimes? Will their high art albums still be remembered?
I don’t know if any of these artists are still making music, come to think of it. They’re from my indie years. Should Look Them Up.