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Writing About Music Is About Writing

Jared Followill

Jared Followill

I wrote a long piece about Taylor Swift the other day and some of my friends reacted to it as though I was using whatever skills I have as a writer on a wasteful score. Naturally, I disagree with the argument on the face of it: Taylor is the biggest popstar in the world today, it is worth the effort to explain her music.

But even if Taylor Swift was, I don’t Selena Gomez, it wouldn’t matter. At the heart of writing about music is not music but writing. Of all the things where form doesn’t matter, in rock criticism writing about music is an excuse to write. It doesn’t matter who the subject matter is, the subject matter doesn’t effect how you write, the words will be the words whether it is about barry Manilow or Gary Bonds, what the subject matter is completely besides the point.

Rock critics, or perhaps what I mean is me as a rock critic, don’t care too much why I am writing about something, all I care about is how I explain what the ice cream tasted like, the craving isn’t sound but thought, despite my deep love of music, my love of writing is much deeper.

This leaves me into some strange areas.

I wrote a review of Kings Of Leon some five years ago and I got the name of the bass player wrong, KoL fans went crazy but my feeling was “it’s the fucking bass player, who cares?”, I didn’t, as long as I said what I wanted to say about the music as well as I could, getting the band member names wrong didn’t interest me. I didn’t care.

Because whatever interest there is for the reader in Kings Of Leon, isn’t NECESSARRILY shared by me even though I am writing about them. What interests me is writing in such away that I both express original thoughts about the band and provide an enjoyable read. I don’t care if people agree as long as they enjoy reading about it.

Creem Magazine could have had that as their logo, it is all about the fun the fun of writing, it is, indeed, all about the fun, it is entertainment by other means and my problem with publications like Pitchfork is really the writing. I am not furiously against their taste, I coincide often enough, but the writers? Technically there is stuff to admire but skillwise it is so damn boring. To use Ryan Dombal as a reference point, for every great review he does like his My Dark Twisted Fantasy, there is 10 reviews as lousy as his Yeezus.

Not only is it self-important, a deep drag on both rock and writing, it is BORING. It is boring because they forget their job is not to write about music but to simple write at all and to move their thoughts from one medium to another.

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