Whoops! I was wrong; one more music review. This is a longer article reviewing a book called Apocalypse Jukebox. Here’s an excerpt:
And in rock? Well, that’s the rub, isn’t it? There is no shared vision in the kind of critically acclaimed rock that Whitelock and Janssen are discussing. On the contrary, the whole point of the genius rockstar is a hyper-cultivated, hyper-marketed, endlessly fetishized individuality. The artists that Janssen and Whitehead have chosen to analyze are deliberately unalike — they use apocalypse in different, individualized ways. For Leonard Cohen, the apocalypse is a metaphor for his divorce; for Green Day it’s a metaphor for adolescence; for Devo, it’s a metaphor, contradictorily, for de-individuation and conformity. Regular folks may all go out the same when the fire comes, but each genius has a different end.
Whatever there other eccentricities, though, the daring individualists that Whitelock and Janssen love do share one trait in common: ambivalence. They’re all complex…or, if you prefer (and in the case of Michael Stipe, literally) inarticulate. Apocalyptic songs tend to celebrate the great simplification of the end — God will set your fields on fire, the traditional bluegrass lyrics insist; trying is not enough, notes Khanate. There’s not a whole lot of wiggle room there. But for Whitelock and Janssen, the apocalypse is yet another excuse to validate, not self-obliterating finality, but self-absorbed complexity.
This is probably my favorite thing I’ve managed to get published for a while. Not that anyone’s keeping track, but there it is.