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End of the tartan rainbow.

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Tartan terror!I have an ungodly amount of music in my house that I’ve never substantively listened to.

Some of it was bought; some of it was given; and some of it was downloaded from the Internet back when I used to do that sort of thing.

Collectively, it represents a head-spinning wealth of riches that I’ve never even reached into my wallet to touch. Among the highlights:

  • Something like 12 CDs of Glenn Gould playing Bach.
  • A three- or four-CD compilation of recordings from a West German free-jazz festival circa 1970.
  • An album of Keith Jarrett playing Handel’s harpsichord suites (on piano).
  • John Coltrane performing live at Newport roughly a year before his death.
  • Both studio albums by faith-influenced singer-songwriter Judee Sill.
  • Several shows by the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, whose blues- and psychedelic-influenced jams I could seriously get to like.
  • A big reverberant wad of Jamaican dub.
  • The Left Banke album with “Walk Away Renee” and “Pretty Ballerina” on it.
  • A smattering of modern classical, including Gavin Bryars’ “The Sinking of the Titanic.”
  • “Sammy Davis Jr. Sings, Laurindo Almeida Plays.”
  • 2 CDs worth of Jerry Garcia performing New Orleans music, with the Dead and by himself.

And this doesn’t include a whole bunch of recordings I’ve only listened to once or twice and should really get to know better.

It got to the point today where I removed all familiar CDs from my car — even a couple that have had a free pass for months. Any time I spend in my car, I’m gonna spend getting to know some unfamiliar music.

All of which begs a question some of you were probably asking already:

Why am I writing, or even thinking, about the Bay City Rollers?

# # # # #

Well, starting tonight, I’m not. But why did I ever?

You’ll notice that except for one entry, I never actually wrote about the Rollers’ music at any point during this outburst of posts. Their music still doesn’t hit my monkey nerve.

And I was never all that interested in the offstage drama. It makes for good stories, but ultimately there has to be music to support it.

I think the one thing tying me to the Rollers over the years was their cheesy retro appeal. Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, before the Seventies became cool all over again … those were the golden days to buy Bay City Rollers (and Village People) records for a buck each, and turn them up loud enough to block out “Can’t Touch This.”

Nowadays I can get all the retro I can hold on the Net in fifteen minutes, ranging from the truly awesome (Stevie Wonder on “Sesame Street”) to the insanely cheesy (Donny and Marie singing “Reelin’ In The Years.”)

The Rollers, so bland and well-groomed, ultimately can’t compete for my interest with all the other Seventies resources out there.

And when it comes to alternatives to today’s uninspired music … well, now I’ve got a whole ocean of unique, alternative, interesting and/or flat-out bizarre music at my fingertips, some of which I rattled off a few paragraphs ago.

So I think I will put away the tartan logo and turn my back on the Rollers once and for all. The novelty has worn off.  They still have plenty of real fans to support them, or so my comments pages would indicate.

Of course, this could ultimately be my loss. Maybe this decision is a rejection of my youth. Maybe it is a rejection of all things youthful and buoyant in favor of all things adult, knotty and pretentious.

I guess that’s my burden to bear, then.

Now where’d I put that Archie Shepp record?

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3 responses »

  1. I am sorry to see that the exorcist is leaving the building.

    The other day a radio friend of mine tweeted that she was excited about doing an appearance with Ryan Beatty, apparently a singer, apparently in town. I googled him and discovered he has something like 375,000 followers on Twitter and is quite the big deal amongst the kiddies (he’s not yet 18), yet I’d never heard of him, not for a second. There are dozens of artists like him in pop and country music. They undoubtedly get all the notoriety, money, and attention anybody could want from their target audience, but they’re like the tree that falls in the forest to many millions of other people.

    In the days of Rollermania, there were fewer channels for distribution—three network affiliates and a couple of Top-40 stations in the average town, with fan magazines having to substitute for the Internet and social media. Yet everything that grew up around the Rollers was calculated for (and shaped by) the channels available, just like hype is now. With a difference: I suspect that because there were fewer channels, the odds that a guy in his 50s had never heard of the Bay City Rollers in 1976 were far longer than the odds that a guy in his 50s has never heard of Ryan Beatty today. Maybe I’m totally wrong, but I’m pretty sure the guy in his 50s then was more likely to see the Rollers by accident on “Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell” than he is now to see today’s teenage rage by accident on whatever channel or program he/she/they might be found.

    So the Rollers likely permeated the culture to an extent impossible in our fragmented world now. And that’s one of the things to love about that particular hype.

    Gasbag out.

    Reply
    • I left two or three potential posts in my back pocket but I couldn’t bring myself to write any more. The core interest in the music just wasn’t there.

      Interesting to think that, to some 15-year-old, 2013 is and shall always be the Year of Ryan Beatty.
      The big-picture analysis you provide is very true … but I also like to look at these things through the eyes of (totally imaginary) individuals, at least a few of whom will perceive Ryan Beatty as just as big a star as the Rollers were in ’75, just because his moment is happening to *them.*
      We all look through different glasses.

      Reply
      • True, and I’ve got a post in the can that makes a similar point. But nevertheless I remain nostalgic for the days of truly mass appeal.

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