Monday, December 7, 2009

Beatles: A.V.Club, Stones: Cosmic American Blog

Sometimes I look around me and I feel so terribly alone. Why am I so different from everybody else? Are there others like me? Where is my "crowd"? The answer: sitting at their computers leaving comments on the A.V. Club message boards.

These are my people. We share the same sarcastic humor, the same pop culture reference points, and the same urge to constantly analyze works of art that we should probably stop analyzing and simply just enjoy. I imagine these people are either a) killing time at the office or b) unemployed. Sometimes their mastery of rock scholar ephemera astounds me; some of these jokes are like references inside references. Yes, these message boards provide that little tickle inside of me that makes my day a little lighter. But what's sadder than spending your whole day posting comments on a message board? How about cutting and pasting your favorite comments and posting them on your own blog?

Often the message board comments are stronger than the articles from whence they came. Steven Hyden's Beatles Or Stones: An Argument for Imperfection is certainly worthwhile, although the author isn't the first British rock aficionado to stumble upon this insight (Yoggoth can attest to many late-night phone conversations in which I made the same observation):
I love The Beatles for the same reason everybody who loves The Beatles loves The Beatles: they were pretty much perfect. No bad albums, no embarrassing career moves, no bad songs. Sure, nitpickers can nitpick. Magical Mystery Tour isn't such a hot movie. That cover of "Til There Was You" on With The Beatles is sort of cheesy. "Octopus' Garden" is a bit twee. But by any standard that isn't maniacally critical, The Beatles batted 1.000. And that's why their case for G.O.A.T. is airtight.

But I don't really care about G.O.A.T. When I'm standing at the jukebox and picking my beer-drinking music, Internet debates over rock bands seem, I don't know, inconsequential for some reason. Words like "best" and "greatest" are just more official ways of saying "favorite" anyway, and The Stones have been my favorite rock 'n' roll band (tied with Guided By Voices) for most of my life. I just wrote 4,000 words explaining why, but I left out one big reason: I love The Stones because they didn't bat 1.000.
Yes. The Beatles were so perfect sometimes it's almost intolerable. I mean, who can relate to perfection? It's like rooting for the 2007 New England Patriots. I also associate The Beatles with a certain period of my life that had its ups and downs. So these days I am rarely in the mood for The Beatles, although, when the mood strikes me, I am inclined to agree with Harry Nilsson when he said that "The Beatles aren't the best band; they're the only band." But perhaps The Beatles are the only band too good to listen to. This is why imperfection is not merely the appeal of the Stones, but also of every other band besides The Beatles. So I know what Hyden means.

Still, leave it to the message board not to take this discussion very seriously. Highlights:

How about Beatles as Shakespeare and Stones as Hemingway? Both masters of Western lit (rock), except that one is more sublime and inexplicable, and the other is a little more clearly Earthbound. (I'm trying to think of the British equivalent of Hemingway, but since the Stones are so fixated on American roots music, the comparison to an American author doesn't seem all that baseless.)

I think your analogy would work better as "Shakespeare and Melville" because Melville was shooting at much the same linguistic and thematic targets as Shakespeare, but in a sloppy, passionate way and without the elaborate precision of Shakespeare's language. If Hemingway were a band he'd be The Ramones, or, at his best, Wire circa 'Pink Flag'.

The Beatles are Shakespeare
The Stones are Marlowe butthumping young John Webster after leaving Thomas Kyd with a limp

Beatles: Leonardo da Vinci. The Stones: Van Gogh.
Beatles: Tom Hanks. Stones: Johnny Depp
Beatles: Thomas Jefferson. Stones: Andrew Jackson
Beatles: Jeff Gordon. Stones: Dale Earnhardt
Beatles: Michael Jordan. Stones: Charles Barkley or Shawn Kemp
Beatles: Martin Luther King. Stones: Malcolm X
Beatles: Paul McCartney. Stones: John Lennon
Beatles: Zack Morris. Stones: A.C. Slater
Beatles: Bill Nye the Science Guy. Stones: Beakman's World
Beatles: Doug. Stones: Rugrats

I like this discussion because I'm always trying to explain things in terms of the relationship between rock bands. Were you aware for instance, that Kant is like Pink Floyd, Nietzsche is like the Sex Pistols, Sartre is Gang of Four, and Camus is The Minutemen?

Beatles: Luke Skywalker. Stones: Han Solo
Beatles: Betty Cooper. Stones: Veronica Lodge
Beatles: McDonalds. Stones: Burger King
Beatles: DC. Stones: Marvel
Beatles: Superman. Stones: Batman

Marianne Faithful & Anita Pallenberg > Yoko Ono & Linda McCartney

Let's put an end to this:
The Beatles = An unopened 1.5 ounce bag of Lay's barbecue-flavored potato chips
The Stones = A cancelled check for 1250 dollars
The Kinks = A 40-watt soft while light bulb
Elvis = A blue Post-it Note
I think that should end the confusion.

Beatles = oxygen
Stones = hydrogen

Beatles: The Godfather, Stones: The Godfather, Part II
Just kidding, I don't actually even know what we're talking about anymore.

You know you're a hipster douchebag...If you actually think that the Kinks > The Beatles.

god that's so true
one could argue that the Kinks greatest songs were better pop/r&b songs than the beatles greatest pop/r&b songs, and one could argue the same thing about the stones' rock numbers. But there are 3 problems with these arguments:
1) elanor rigby
2) helter-skelter
3) you would be a hipster d-bag

Stones Vs. Zep were the big debate when I was a kid. The Beatles were such a Grand Poobah it was crazy to compare anyone to them. But my friends and I were Stones People. Led Zeppelin had too much Druid Faerie stuff. Then Punk came along and we were New York Dolls People. And years later it was R.E.M. Vs. The Replacements. I realised how silly it was after I shot a guy in the head for saying "Document" was better than "Tim" and I had to cut him up into little pieces and flush him down the toilet to get rid of him. But I was playing "Document" all through that so you can't say I'm a bad person.

People who consider Zep's turgid, self-mythologizing bullshit in any way a challenge to the Stones for "greatest rock band" is a dumbshit stoner asshole whose sex life consists of rubbing one out to fantasies about trolls banging a female hobbit using a mythical sea creature.

And don't tell me QWERTYUIOP is good.

the beatles broke up 37 years ago. the stones (kinks who etc) have had much more time to solidify their legacy.

If by "solidify" you mean "fuck up," than you're right. The Beatles' breaking up early is an advantage, not a detriment.

Johan Sebastian Bach:
I've been dead two centuries now, but is my work "solidified" or "fucked up"?

Fire > Air > Water > Earth
And don't you forget it!

Air Supply>Earth, Wind, and Fire

Dinysion vs. Apollonesian: Probably both spelled wrong, but are you familiar with viewing the Beatles and Stones using Nietzsche's dichotomy between things that follow Apollo (bright, creative, cerebral) vs. those that follow Dionysus (dark, passionate, sexual)? It's a slight oversimplification, as is any theory of two of history's biggest bands as reduced to a message board comment, but as far as oversimplifications for the sake of comparisons go, it's my favorite.

Yes, spelled wrong: Dionysian vs. Apollonian. Don't know how completely Apollonian the Beatles were, but as oversimplifications go, this one's reasonably apt, esp. given the comparisons above (i.e. Beatles: my mom, Stones: your mom).

Not an apt analogy. I never had sex with the Beatles or the Stones.

How d-baggy a world we would live in if The Stones and The Beatles and The Kinks and The Dead and Cream all and Dylan all sat around bitching about how much better one is than the other. I'm just glad that Rock & Roll once upon a time kicked ass and it didn't seem to matter what quantity of love or respect you had for one group or another, all that mattered is that you showed up to the party and LOOK! you brought BEER! Why can't we go back to that?

God, I fucking hate Birthday.

Give it a cha-cha-cha-chance.

Stones are Saturday night... Beatles are Sunday morning.

The Bay City Rollers are Saturday Night.
The Velvet Underground are Sunday Morning.
and The Moody Blues are Tuesday Afternoon.

Faith No More covering 'Easy' is like sunday morning.

The Beatles>There Will Be Blood>The Rolling Stones>blowjobs>Abraham Lincoln>No Country for Old Men>The Kinks>most things>Juno>The Doors>Warren G. Harding>Ronald Reagan>George W. Bush>picklesickles>Pol Pot>Hitler>Creed>Batman & Robin

I love that the Kinks are mayo.
ZZ Top must be Texas BBQ sauce.
I guess Santana is...mole poblano.
You thought I was gonna say salsa didn't you. Nope.
War gets to be salsa.

Beatles = Rum Tum Tugger
Stones = Griddlebone
Kinks = Skimbleshanks
Who = Pouncival
Led Zeppelin = Jennyanydots
Velvet Underground = Tumblebrutus

"Black And Blue isn’t a great or even particularly good record, but it’s an honest one, even if what The Stones reveal was supposed to be concealed."
Oh god, that is the most kiss-ass thing I've ever read. Black and Blue was a piece of shit, pure and simple, and you call it "Honest"?
Wow, that's a fan for you.
But then again, how many other bad things can be justified by the pure honesty behind them.
"Adolf Hitler was a murderous lunatic but there was an honesty to his madness that exposed a certain purity to his work."
"As reprehensible as her actions were, one has to admire the honesty behind each slice as Bobbit relieved herself and her husband of the wicked source of their misery.”
Hey, this is actually kind of cool!
“As she ran by the production assistant in tears, Ms. Simpson knew that her newly exposed attempts to sell her lip-syncing as a live performance was an honest mistake meant to disguise the fact that she honestly has no musical talent.”
“Howard Stern may be a washed-up, fifty-something millionaire who uses what’s left of his celebrity to coheres young girls to strip naked, but he does it in such a bold, honest fashion that one does not always feel the need to take a shower after listening to his broadcasts.”


Jason said...

The craziest thing about the Beatles is their entire recording career was only 7 years!

Today's bands put out a mere 2 or 3 albums in that time (or in the case of the Beastie Boys and the Shins, 1 album).

Little Earl said...

And I haven't even put out any albums!

Little Earl said...

According to Rolling Stone, The Beatles were the second most top-selling artist of the 2000s, behind Eminem. Which should finally prove, once and for all, that Eminem is a better musical artist than The Beatles.

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