White man’s burden

I’m sure by now, most of you have encountered Christian Landers’ very funny blog, “Stuff White People Like“.

If you haven’t yet, keep in mind that his satire target is not White people in general, or the easy target redneck types, but educated, liberal, urban types. A whole lot of his commentors still don’t seem to get this and bother to argue with him and each other.

Anyway, the latest posting hits quite close to home, and it’s funny shit. For somebody like myself, and a whole lot of other KDHX denizens, this calls into question what, for me, is one of my very reasons for living. Hell, I’m in the middle of what’s three generations of White guys who feel it’s our mission to preserve Black music culture.  Of course, this can be construed as awfully condescending. One can even extend this thing in our KDHX world into music of rural white folks that they don’t listen to anymore. Can anybody here stomach what passes for Country music these days?

I’ve been thinking about these matters a lot lately anyway, and wish I had some profound insight into what makes us music geek types tick, particularly the roots-oriented among us. Anybody smarter than me care to elucidate on this?


  • Steve Pick

    Well, Mark, it’s always worth considering things like this. My take on this is it’s always worth listening to music that’s good. And, good music may or may not be culturally viable at any given time. Does it make Beethoven’s musical decisions any less valid now that the high classical symphonies he wrote aren’t exactly au currant?

    Now, it would be truly wonderful if we could all figure out how good current music is at any given time, but sometimes it takes a little distance when you’re dealing with something that’s outside your cultural norm. Thus, the hip hop examples given on the website are ones I was guilty of coming late to the party for. (Although, really, I did see Run DMC, Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, LL Cool J, and lots more back in the 80s.) Still, it took a while for me to figure out what made Del the Funkee Homosapien so good.

    Part of this, however, comes with how much time and energy one is inclined to devote to any given musical genre. As Friendly Bob Adams used to put it, there really is good and bad in everything, I guess. But, until you bother to immerse yourself in it, you’re not going to be able to tell what makes Blind Boy Fuller way better than Arthur Crudup. It will all just sound the same to you until you work at it.

    If, however, you’re young, and immersed in a culture or a sub-culture of contemporary norms, you’re not going to care about any of that old shit. There’s no reason to be ashamed that you, Mark Mason, just happen to devote your time to keeping alive interest in music of another time and culture. (Just as there is equally no shame in, say Fred Gumaer’s equally intensive interest in country music of the past.)

    And, never ignore the possibility that at any given time, something from the past will sneak up and gain new life – what if Michael Doucet had decided in 1976 as the Ramones? I mean, I love the Ramones, myself, but I sure wouldn’t want to subtract the times I’ve seen Beausoleil from my catalog of sublime memories.

    Even those of us who have broad, eclectic music tastes have our blind spots. The important thing is to stop worrying about whether or not we’ll ever be able to know everything there is to know about music. We won’t. Nobody will. Instead, we’ll all contribute our little bit to the ongoing knowledge of the gigantic picture, and have a heck of a lot of fun in the process.

  • http://short.kdhx.org/802f07 Sunny Boy

    Hey Steve,
    I’ve enjoyed your writings since those ancient days as a Post columnist. Thanks for the encouragement, but there was no real discouragement on my part. It’s just fun to question what we do now and then, and very important to make fun of oneself.
    And, yes, that “sneak(ing) up and gain(ing)new life”
    thing does make it all worth while.