Your Guide to Spotting the North American Rock Critic

Here’s a funny essay that I found randomly whilst googling for something. It’s a pissy guide to the various classifications of rock critics. These include The Indie Thug, The Zeitgeist Obsessive, The Harmless Shill and others. My favorite, because I think it is the funniest and truest to life (also the most annoying of all types and thanks to VH1 highly visible lately) is the Keeper of the Cannon. Here is the full entry for this one:

KEEPER OF THE CANON: Every so often Rolling Stone or some of the mainstream non-music magazines such as Time or Newsweek or Life will publish some sort of “Rock’s Greatest Suchandsuch Of All Time” list crammed to the gills with very, very predictable entries. Every time you see Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Exile On Main Street or Pet Sounds listed as the Greatest Album Ever, the Keeper Of The Canon (KotC for short) is usually to blame. KotCs are straight-up boomer rock goons, the kinds of people who still insist that Woodstock was the best concert ever and music went right down the toilet when disco and punk showed up. Certain circles refer to these types of critics as “rockists” (defined as people who measure all popular music by the standards of rock and roll, which they consider in its purest form a genre that will never ever ever be bested in a million years especially by some sissypants synth-dance), and are usually worked up into a foamy lather at the typical decrees of said rockists (“Music today is all a buncha crap! The Doobie Brothers, now there was a band!”). While KotCs are growing increasingly rare in today’s new-youth-now culture — rearing their heads mostly on VH1 specials or in five-star Mick Jagger solo album reviews — they still have enough clout in the rock journo media to keep things nice and safe because god forbid someone out there thinks there exists a band better than the Beatles (doubly so if they released their first album after 1977).

Fun Fact: On very rare occasions, you might be able to coax a KotC into admitting his grudging respect and/or appreciation of one rap album. That rap album will always be Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.

I’ve had an essay festering inside me for a long time about the corrosive effect of the Baby Boomers and their ubiquitous music on the last 30 years of popular music. It was prompted by a very long post on by an odd science fiction writer who claimed that no music of the last 30 years can touch that of the decade of ~1964-1974 or so. I remember the statement along the lines of “this generation (meaning mine, Generation X) hasn’t produced a ‘Love Reign O’er Me'”, to which I thought “Of course not, the goddamned original is still playing 3 times a day on every goddamned classic rock station in the US. Why on earth would we need another one? The Baby Boomers didn’t and couldn’t produce a ‘Heart Shaped Box’ or ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ or ‘Summerland’ or ‘How Soon is Now’ or ‘Where is My Mind’ but we aren’t allowed to hold that against them.” One of these days I’ll write that essay. If I could ever turn up the original post I would. It’s hard to react to something by memory, but that post really ignited and focussed my general tendency towards simmering anger and resentment at the Baby Boomers and the way they trample all culture beneath their many feet while claiming their successors will never comprehend just how good everything was before they wrecked it. Bleh, I’m getting pissed off again just thinking about all this.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

2 thoughts on “Your Guide to Spotting the North American Rock Critic”

  1. Nor could they have produced “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies. Though, of course, they evoked all the emotion that went into it.

  2. I agree with that. I found that original post I was talking about but I have an ethical dilemma. I’d like to reproduce the whole thing to respond to it, because it just makes more sense that way. However to do that I would need to ask permission and frankly I don’t want to engage with said person to ask. I suppose I can just write it, and edit out the specific rebuttals and/or genericize them. Interestingly enough, reading the thing again almost 2 years after I first read it, it was every bit as wrongheaded and full of shit as I remembered.

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