little big distinctions

and to continue our series in: “use your blog as a personal repository of memories, and let others read it and not read it as they will,” i present, a chat snapshot of me and erik, fly on the wall perspective.
Feel free to skim or click on through if you are not amused by semantic tomfoolery.

11:34 AM Erik: oh, are you onnnnn?
please be on!
11:35 AM me: :) win!
Erik: oh, noice!
me: welcome back to PST
Erik: I am starting a list, and I need your help
o thanks
ok, here it is
The Beatles
The Grateful Dead
what next, you know?
fukin, Bikini Kill
11:36 AM me: the idea is that the list would contain bands that meet anybody’s criteria for ‘greatness’?
11:37 AM the rolling stones
pink floyd
some punk band. i’m so bad at punk bands.
Erik: yea, i think The Clash or The Cure
11:38 AM or one of those?
I’m thinking… Madonna?
yea, fukin… THE CLASH!
me: i was thinking the clash. the cure is a good idea, too. what about the pixies? they did stuff that changed things. i think that’s my main criterion
madonna’s not a band.
11:39 AM Erik: oh yea
madonna’s not a band?
me: it would be different if solo artists count.
i don’t think so.
bands have group personalities.
madonna is MADONNA
Erik: oh, Sex Pistols were 1st british punk band
she has an ensemble tho, right?
me: yes, sex pistols, certainly.
11:40 AM yeah, sure. everyone has backup.
the velvet underground.
Erik: ok, but this is all straying from GBOAT
you know?
velvet underground is definitely not in GBOAT
they’re great, for sure
11:41 AM but I’m talking top 5…. top 10, tops
me: ok, well, best way to get to 10 is to list 100, perhaps, just like best way to get 1 design is to make 10.
when does the era of ‘bands’ start?
11:42 AM i mean, symphonies don’t make the cut, but big bands?
see, you have to include elvis if you include madonna.
i think that solo artists should be another list.
Erik: big bands, sure
11:43 AM so, maybe duke ellington should be in there!
me: or count basie or glenn miller
Erik: or Benny Goodman, ya know?
or Count Basie
11:44 AM me: right, but again, band vs. individual. count basie had a band. and glenn miller had a band that would include benny goodman, at times. so…
Erik: oh, nooo Glen Miller for sure
me: i think one big band
11:45 AM what does rolling stone think?
11:46 AM Erik: oh, they’re too rock centered
traditional rock music
me: the top hit on google for ‘top 10 bands’ puts led zeppelin at #1 and beatles at #2.
11:47 AM Erik: oh man, what about Grandmaster Flash?
me: what about the beach boys?
Erik: no way man
they go head to head with the beatles and lose
you can only really have one GBOAT in any given era
to be GBOAT you have to DEFINE an ERA
so, only one allowed per. Beach Boys out.
11:48 AM they’re an also ran.
me: the beach boys were the outgoing cusp of the 50’s. the beatles were the outgoing cusp of the 60’s. i don’t think they are head to head.
Erik: the beatles arguably won 2 eras.
me: but i think someone else might beat them. i was just trying to think of genres i had missed.
Erik: possibly even 3.
11:49 AM me: i think you need the beatles and the rolling stones or pink floyd or led zeppelin.
Erik: they won that era with the boy bands and the everley brothers and shit
they won the hippie shit, hands odwn
Erik: and arguably they win the experimental rock era too
me: the 90s were awesome
11:50 AM but no, i think bono gets the 90s. or REM.
the police could be considered, too.
11:51 AM oh the doors. who gets the 70’s?
solo performers definitely need another list, or 3 of your top 5 will have to be “elvis, bob dylan, madonna”
11:52 AM and we’re being very british and american so far.
what about a metal band?
11:53 AM Erik: um
11:54 AM yea, like Axl Rose
me: right
11:55 AM guns n roses and metallica and van halen and ac/dc all want us to pick them. or maybe they don’t give a fuck what we think.
oh or nine inch nails. trent reznor did his part. and then there’s nirvana. flannel will never be the same. grunge made it’s mark.
11:56 AM this is fun because i’m making my year in music mixes for the past two years this month. i fell behind a year, so i’m doing two. you should make a “these are the greatest bands ever and these songs show why” mix. :)
11:57 AM it would be interesting to try to pick the greatest SONGS ever and work backwards from there.
11:59 AM bob marley and the wailers
1:09 PM Erik: sorry, got distracto’d
ok, nirvana, aerosmith et al all lose to madonna
1:10 PM grunge was an era, * sort of *
but compared to madonna and the excesses of the 90’s… no way
madonna defined the whole thing, grunge was just a subculture
me: no. madonna was the 80’s.
grunge was a reaction to the materialism of the 80’s.
1:11 PM the alternative movement sprang from it. madonna was pop.
great pop.
no argument there.
but diffferent.
and NOT A BAND. ;)

—-next day!!—–

9:47 AM Erik: hm
9:48 AM i think Madonna should be a band.
if Madonna is not a band then the concept of a band is sexist.
9:50 AM me: No. Bob Dylan is not a band either. Or Elvis. And The Cranberries is.
All solo performers employ backup artists.
9:51 AM Bands are intentional identification as a group with a name that transcends the individual.
Erik: but if you make a list of Greatest Bands Of All Time, it will almost certainly, largely exclude women
me: Even if only to acknowledge them obliquely – Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Glenn Miller Band
Erik: fuck, the Glenn Miller Band is not a backup group
Glenn Miller doesn’t even play an instrument in the band.
me: then don’t make a list of the Greatest Bands. Make a list of the Greatest Performers.
9:52 AM A baton is an instrument.
Erik: He’s a mascot and a composer more than a frontman
me: And I was giving this as an example of a band.
they are in the name.
Erik: Wait, Bob Marley and the Wailers is a band, but Madonna is not?
me: yes
Erik: because?
9:53 AM me: because the name of the band is the name of a group, not a single person
Erik: yea, but it’s fuckin Bob Marley
me: Dave Matthews Band is a band.
Billy Joel is not.
Erik: barely.
me: i use
is in the way that
Erik: because the members are constant, maybe
me: i was taught to in english class
9:54 AM Erik: there’s 3-6 members, and they are constant.
me: bands can lose and gain members
because their identity is larger than any of them
madonna cannot lose madonna
Erik: what’s the difference between Bob Marley and the Wailers and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band?
me: and still tour as madonna
Erik: Didn’t you tell me Bruce is not a band?
me: no
9:55 AM it’s a good example
bruce springsteen sometimes performs with bands and sometimes solo
and the billing changes
Erik: Bob Marley too, no?
me: eric clapton is not a band. cream is.
yes, bob marley too.
music is not monogamous.
Erik: so why is Bob a band while Bruce is a solo artist?
9:56 AM me: bruce is sometimes a solo artist. bruce springsteen and the e street band is a band. i didn’t tell you that.
9:57 AM The Boss is not a band.
Erik: ok, so why is Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band a band while Madonna is a solo artist?
me: because when you refer to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, you have to take the time to say “and the E Street Band”
Erik: ok,
why is Beach Boys a band while Madonna is an artist?
9:58 AM me: because Madonna goes by Madonna all the time. Brian Wilson is not referred to as Beach Boy #1
Erik: what if the Beach Boys had been named Brian Wilson instead of the Beach Boys?
but did ALL exactly the same music.
10:00 AM me: It would not be a band. It would be a vehicle by which to propel one person to mega stardom while the others remained completely anonymous. that is a different category of performance group.
Erik: I feel like there are two containers, one for Band and one for Artist, and you want to keep them separate, but I’m just trying to find one tiny hole to open up between them so everything in both gets all mixed up.
me: All bands are artists. All artists are not bands.
Erik: Isn’t “vehicle by which to propel one person to mega stardom while the others remained completely anonymous” the definition of Madonna?
10:01 AM me: yes
Erik: so it’s just the name then.
me: yes
madonna has a band. madonna is not a band.
Erik: if Madonna had been named The Mods, it would a band.
me: yes.
10:02 AM Erik: aren’t there bands with a person’s name as the name of the band?
me: it could be argued so, yes. more often, i think there are bands with the name of a person’s alterego as the name of the band.
10:03 AM it could even perhaps be argued that a list of the greatest bands of all time could include something like “Madonna’s Like A Virgin Tour”
10:04 AM Erik: ooh, Gorillaz
band or not ban?
me: to band together is to choose to identify as a group
has Madonna on it
10:05 AM me: i don’t know gorillaz well enough. probably. i mean, the monkees are a band. so yeah. definitely.
hey is that why they are called that?
10:06 AM i’m not saying people might not have claim to disagree with me. :)
Erik: ah
Franz Ferdinand
me: i am offering you my opinions on how i would define the category you set out for yourself in this challenge, were i to be undertaking it myself
because you asked for my opinion
Erik: however, no one in the band claims to be Franz
so it’s diferent.
me: yeah. bands can have a name name. like george or something.
10:07 AM Erik: yea
shit, what a mess.
me: that is just funny, like when barenaked ladies named their album gordon
Erik: i just feel like bands get a greater level of respect than solo artists.
so the only fair thing to do is destroy the category.
10:08 AM me: see, an album can be named for the hit song on the album, or the band, but you have to make a distinction between them when you refer to them on lists
Erik: and the only way to destroy it is to recycle it.
10:09 AM me: you will not destroy a word by using it in ways that make people think that you don’t know what you are talking about. you will just lose them. pick a word that means what you say it means, or make a new word, or preface the list with a passionate declaration of the need to reclaim the word ‘band’ from the oppressive hands of individualist culture, which automatically privileges the patriarchy. :)
10:10 AM but everyone might not read that. :)
Erik: sure I will.
“Record” has destroyed the word “Record”
10:11 AM I made a record even thought I never printed it in vinyl, nor even onto a plastic disc?
thus the concept of a record has been minimized in importance in our head.
we can barely talk about it anymore.
but records! we talk about hit records every week!
me: words can definitely evolve.
10:12 AM Erik: DESTROY!
the point is to destroy the word
me: records already has another abstract meaning in our culture, though. bands always means binding more than one person or thing together.
Erik: but death and evolution are the same thing, aren’t they?
me: only if you’re a boy. :)
10:13 AM if you’re a girl, you tend to focus on the rebirth half.
and the necessity of the step that came before.
annihiliation of underlying stairsteps would lead to a precarious staircase
10:15 AM i need to go to MAPS soon, and first, i need to eat eggs, so i should go.
but it is fun to talk to you. :)
10:16 AM Erik: sorry, typing break
10:17 AM wait, i don’t get the boys & girls thing
well have fun
me: we can talk about it more later. we have a record. :)

3 Responses to “little big distinctions”

  1. Tad Says:

    I can’t believe that you didn’t mention Prince!

  2. sharon Says:

    you are right. about the band thing.

  3. Joe Blaylock Says:

    Hm, you both miss the larger context on record. Before record was used for vinyl disks, and even before it was used to note who came to a meeting, it was used a long time ago to refer to a musical performance (and the music for same). At least, that’s what I think I remember. (Maybe Wikipedia “Recorder”, like the instrument?)

    So anyway, record, like band, has this much larger historical context in which its current usage makes perfect sense.

    I agree with you. Madonna is not a band. But Van Halen is.

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