Considering Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday were seen as popular artists during their day but are now accepted as high art without people even flinching, and I don’t have a problem with that, I wonder which big names in popular music from the sixties and seventies (i.e. Rolling Stones darlings and perhaps others) will make undergo the same tranformation. Because not even someone like Dylan has been given the same treatment and perhaps its simply a tad too soon. I’m just wondering, will people look back on Jimi Hendrix a few generations from now as an important artist the way people look upon Billie Holiday or Duke today? Because if you tell someone today your favorite artist of all time is Duke nobody will perceive it was middlebrow, or at least very few will, and they won’t be taken seriously anyway, whereas Hendrix is still usually considered middlebrow in plenty of circles.
In any case, I’ve seen some people argue more or less that people like John Lennon and Bob Dylan may not have been as “technically skilled” as Clapton, Page and Hendrix, but that the former two had an innate artistic genius the latter three lacked, having primarly gotten by on sheer technical prowess, at least for the most part. The specific things I read didn’t express this idea exactly as I’ve written it, but I simply read between the lines and sort of concluded this was their sentiment. I could be wrong, but…
I don’t think the premise is true.
“Because not even someone like Dylan has been given the same treatment and perhaps its simply a tad too soon.”
Dylan has won a Pulitizer and is regularly nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature, and unless someone is tempermentally disinclined to treat rock as art, I don’t see why anyone would have trouble with the idea of Dylan as a serious artist.
“John Lennon and Bob Dylan may not have been as “technically skilled” as Clapton, Page and Hendrix”
The difference,really, between Clapton and Page and the others is the Clapton and Page are primarily regarded as instrumentalists, while Lennon and Dylan are songwriters and lyricists, so they aren’t thought of in terms of the quality of their playing as much (Hendrix, to me, was a bit of a genius on both sides).
“when you listen to Jennifer Lopez talk about her core Latina audience and then listen to the tweenies talk about the music, it is not transcendence that is occurring.”
Sure, but people are still using J. Lo as a means of expressing themselves. I find a sort of transcendence in the Kingsmen’s recording of “Louie, Louie,”
that is probably quite different from what the Kingsmen’s original intent was, and I’m quite sure neither my experience nor the Kingsmen’s (who basically were trying to sound like the Wailers):
has much of anything to do Richard Berry’s intentions with the original recording, which was to write a knock of “El Loco Cha Cha” :
which was itself a a rewrite of this tune:
Has anyone seen this by the way. It’s a bit long, but it’s topped off with a response from David Ehrenstein: http://bobdylanalterego.blogspot.fr/
I think the OP could be correct in that everyone identifies music from their own period of youthful rebellion. That stuff sticks with you and never dies out no matter how old you get. This music is like your first love: scary, tender, but sweet. It becomes part of your DNA.
Now, films, we just like ‘em when we see ’em, which is not so dependent on generational things, unless the film itself was part of one’s youthful rebellion – ala Rebel Without a Cause and the iconic (and now forever youthful) James Dean.
I couldn’t stand the music my parents listened to (nor they mine), but we shared a love for certain films in common – for example.
I’d be curious to know why all the rock greats, such as Dylan, Hendrix, Beatles, Young, etc. seem to be agreed upon by most “high-minded” Mubians whereas the films of the “Hollywood Brat” generation seem to be much more divisive and seem to split members of this forum. I generally think of people like Coppola and Scorsese, et al. as being the film equivalents of classic rock musicians For example, a much higher proportion of Mubians will agree on Dylan’s greatness than on that of Coppola, with some thinking The Godfather and Apocalypse Now are masterpieces and others seeing them as well-made but ultimately middlebrow. So do people see The Godfather movies as being more middlebrow than The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young.
So, what’s the deal? Are musical tastes simply better across the board in society or are Mubians’ music tastes simply more populist than their film tastes. Because filmmakers who are as well-known as Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Wilco, Pixies, Nirvana, etc. would probably be seen as mainstream, but there doesn’t seem to be anything unfashionable for revering Radiohead, The Beatles, and Dylan in this forum, even if members also listen to jazz, classical, and other niche genres. So I guess I’m wondering whether it’s A, that Mubians’ music tastes than their film tastes or B, that music tastes are usually better across the board than film tastes, since there are plenty of Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins fans with very questionable tastes in film, whereas it would be hard to find someone with refined film tastes having poor music tastes.
I’ve found that people who really love music (who listen to it and think about the way a song is orchestrated, think about the different sounds and how the melody is constructed, etc) will be open to new music all of their lives, whereas people who listen to music superficially only like the music of their youth because it reminds them of their youth.
The same principle sometimes holds for films as well—people who really love film will always be looking for good new ones, while people who are casual viewers often prefer the films of their youth or ones that resemble them.
People in America are indoctrinated into Classical music as high-thinking and high class. This has been going on for decades upon decades and generation upon generation. Doesn’t have anything to do with the quality or inventiveness that comes from that style of music. Cinema hasn’t done that because we’ve very recently gotten to a time where you can watch any movie you want whenever. How long is someone going to sincerely play (lazy examples) Citizen Kane or Casablance at the cinema? Everyone on the other hand is going to hear Moonlight Sonata 15 million times in their life.
I understand both your points, but they’re not directly addressing what I just posted right up above. My basic question is whether or not Mubian music tastes seem more populist merely because music tastes in general are superior to film tastes in society, not specifically with respect to Mubi. For example, is there any filmmaker right now who is both as famous and as good as Radiohead is a band, and yes I know Radiohead is also a lazy example. In a response to that question in any case I would say not. I’m simply just wondering whether tastes on here are more refined with respect to film than with respect to music, or if humans in general simply have better music tastes than film tastes, which explains why great musical acts are generally more well-known than great filmmakers. The ‘great’ alternative rock artists of the late 80s, nineties, and in some cases even the 2000s all have much larger followings than any great ‘art-house’ filmmaker. Everyone in America under the age of 40 or so has at least heard of Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Tool, Nirvana, R.E.M., Pixies, etc. etc. They referred to as alt-rock, but they’re as mainstream as mainstream can get in the sense you’d be hard-pressed to find a college student in America these days who doesn’t at least have some Nirvana and/or Radiohead on their itunes playlist. Likewise, these same college students all have Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Dylan, Bowie, etc. etc. on their playlists as well. Granted, listening to a Bowie album is a less demanding task than sitting through Andrei Rublev or Two or Three Things I Know About Her, but my point is college students don’t consume art-house cinema like water the way they do critically acclaimed rock and alt-rock.
P.S. The words ‘acts’ encompasses both bands and solo artists.
I disagree with almost everything you’re saying, particularly the idea that there is some hierarchy we could create of film taste or music taste. Can you tell me what someone with ‘poor musical tastes’ likes? Or even what musical tastes mubi members have?
As for your comparisons between film and music, let’s draw some very imprecise analogies that I don’t think need any further comment:
Beatles — Billy Wilder or Hitchcock
Radiohead — Coen Brothers or PT Anderson
Stockhausen — Godard
But that’s exactly my point. Even if one could argue Radiohead are comparable in popularity to say PTA or the Coen Bros. many would probably agree and/or think they’re an infinitely superior band than the Coen Bros are as filmmakers. I’m not necessarily declaring that as my sentiment, but I’m just saying I think that’s how many Mubians’ would feel, even if there are some who like the Coen Brothers.
Do you not also think many people here would consider the Coen Bros. ‘infinitely superior’ to Radiohead?
I don’t really understand your point, frankly. There are filmmakers who are both popular and have critical cachet, and there are musicians who are both popular and have critical cachet.
I don’t think the answer to your original question has much to do with critical reception. I think popular music is more tied into the politics of identity than mainstream films. Also, except for serious cineastes (or film nerds or mubians or whatever term you prefer), I think young people consider music to be more important to them (and to their identity) than film. I think the ’60 was the last time film seemed as important to most young people as music.
Well, I’d say mainstream film can also be tied into the politics of identity somewhat, but it’s usually more superficial and shallow when it is tied in.
“Are musical tastes simply better across the board in society or are Mubians’ music tastes simply more populist than their film tastes.”
Neither. Taste in film is taste in film; taste in music is taste in music.