Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kick 'em When They're Up, Kick 'em When They're Down. Etc.

It’s not nice to dogpile. But sometimes it’s necessary.

There’s quite a furor building over Dallas Morning News music critic Mario Tarradell. He has long championed cookie-cutter modern country artists as well as MOR cheese rock, though he should receive credit for championing rock en Espanol, I suppose. This hasn’t bothered me because a) I don’t read the Dallas Morning News anymore and b) I really don’t care about music critique, music journalists or 95% of music that’s being discussed or reviewed these days. It’s hard to get worked up over something that essentially doesn’t exist in your world. I actually thought that Thor Christensen was still writing for DMN, if that gives you any idea of how out of touch with the paper’s entertainment section I am.

So apparently our buddy Mario wrote a little rant about how Gywneth Paltrow introduced Radiohead as “one of the most influential artists of all time” at the Grammys last year. If there are two names that make me doze off while driving and drift into oncoming traffic almost instantaneously, it’s “Gwyneth Paltrow” and “Radiohead”. I liked Radiohead a lot up to OK Computer. They’ve lost me since. I still stand by my assertion that the Radiohead/Spiritualized show that I saw at Fair Park Music Hall in 1998 was the best concert I have ever attended. I think they are a little too critically exalted these days but I can’t deny that, for better or for worse, they do seem to be a huge influence on today’s music. I have nothing to say about Gywenth Paltrow other than her hair always looks very shiny.

But Tarradell’s Radiohead comments unleashed a shitstorm on the DMN website, with commenters overwhelmingly defending Radiohead’s honor. Then Mario’s fingers found the strength to type this:

The Beatles are one of the most influential bands of all time. The Eagles are one of the most influential bands of all time.

And then also…

The Eagles?!?! Oh, I dunno, try EVERY SINGLE COUNTRY ARTIST AROUND NOW. They pretty much ALL list the Eagles as an influence. And that's just for starters.

I have never gone from half-heartedly nodding in agreement with a maligned rock critic to hoping that they experience a lifetime of incontinence and night terrors so quickly in my life. If you are serious about those two statements, Mario Tarradell, then you are the problem. Let me try hard here to not mince my words.


*(Except for Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good”. That song rules)

I wanted to be in your corner, buddy. Well, maybe not but I could at least see where you were coming from with the “C’mon guys, Radiohead aren’t THAT amazing!” bit. Then you mentioned the Eagles and did not also mention the words “bland” or “contrived” or “obnoxious” or “inflamed anal fissure” in the same sentence. And now you are the enemy. Saying that the Eagles are the biggest influence on modern mainstream country is like bragging that pestilence-carrying rodents were the biggest influence on the Bubonic plague.

You say that the Eagles influenced every country artist around today? Therein lies your problem. I couldn’t have said it better myself, actually. I have often wondered when country music took the 90 degree turn to Pro-Tools, studded bandana wearing purgatory. When did country artists stop trying to sound like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings and Bob Wills and Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn and Hank Thompson and Buck Owens? If what you say is true and modern country artists are in fact influenced heavily by the Eagles, I think I have my answer.

Music taste is subjective but please, Mario Tarradell, do you really think that the current crop of mainstream country artists (you mention that Shelby Lynne and Brad Paisley were two of your favorite concerts last year) are something to write home about? Artistically innovate? Anything but Pro-Tools, spray tans, southern accents and 19-piece backup bands? I have no problem with entertainers that exist purely for entertainment. That’s what anyone from American Idol is. I also don’t have any problem with you knowing your readership and playing to them. We’re in Dallas, Texas after all. I mean, it would be nice for a Dallas newspaper to instead give props to artists who are true to the roots of country music, as so many of those roots are right here in Texas. But I long ago realized that was too much to ask for.

But really, Mario Tarradell, you have a forum upon which you can do one of two things. You can either use your allotted space to explore and critique music outside of Top 40 modern rock radio, modern country or Tina Turner. Or you can serve up the KFC Famous Bowl of rock journalism that you whip up each week. Patton Oswalt calls the Famous Bowl a “failure pile in a sadness bowl” and I now know that your music leanings can be classified as much the same.

I would like to end with the most astute commentary on the Eagles and the skid mark of a legacy that they have left on the underpants of modern music, courtesy of a DMN commenter:

Posted by Brad @ 12:55 PM Thu, Feb 12, 2009
People who like the Eagles...have kids who like Nickelback.


DTC said...

as much as i like this blog, i really wish you hadnt posted about this. the mere thought of all of the things you mentioned here make me want to hork.

Martin said...

The sad reality is that the ENTIRE 'metroplex' is a cultural vortex (by culture i dont mean opera) and the Dallas Morning News isnt much better than the 'Startlegram' from our only slightly stupider neighbors to the west. To expect anything beyond mediocrity from the sadsacks and losers who settled for a life in this town is nothing but a pipe dream. Get out now or develop a southern accent you never had and find yourself spending another evening eating turds at Snuffers and then listening to a fake 'outlaw country' band at the Double-Wide shithole.

Get out while you can!

Chris Matello said...


Grandpa Walton said...

Let me be the first to congratulate Martin on his successful assault on the whirl of this cultural vortex with his use both of the far more modern diminutive "i" and of the colloquial "stupider" in lieu of an easily snobbisher "more stupid", and of course let us by all means wish him the earliest of success in his stated quest.

As for those of us doomed to be Left Behind, it is likely that the largely primal but leavening musings of our host will be precisely what saves the culture for us from the dependably calculated, self-serving banalities of her peers, so in our darkness at the least we have that consolation.

Goodnight, Amanda

Martin said...

Hey Grandpa W - Fuck You.

How's that for culture, you self-congratulating, pseudo-intellectual muppet?

Despite your predictable verbal showboating, you sound far too intelligent to waste your life in the armpit of the southwest. Why havent you done something with your life, sorry clown?


amandacobra said...

Wait a minute, Martin. If I'm following your logic, when the hell is that Mark Cuban guy gonna do something with his life? Hell, to bring it full circle here, Don Henley still lives in Dallas part time. Surely all the money he's made beating me down with Hotel California for decades would afford him the ability to get the fuck out of this "armpit of the Southwest" forever, right?

Dallas isn't a cultural Mecca by any means but other than being hot as fuck, it's not that bad a place to live. If you hate it so much and were able to escape, why the vitriol?

Martin said...

Because it was once great. It still has tiny pockets of greatness, and a few great people left, but mostly its all fading away. Tragic, really.

You, however, are among the last of the Mohicans.

diahh said...

Well, i still think In the City (or whatever the name of that song is) is a good song. Mainly because the first time i heard it was at the end of The Warriors and that movie kicks all kinds of ass.

Don in Austin said...

Thank you. I've hated the Eagles ever since being beaten down by Hotel California played on an endless loop (quite a task with vinyl) by college housemates. Unfortunately the influence might actually be there, explaining the insepid festering reality of modern "country" music. The true desperados are those who like country music but can't find it in Nashville. There are a few bright spots in Texas country music but even that is lacking spark and male dominated.

Linsey said...


Melissa said...

I was born here in dallas and then i moved to fort worth and then i moved back to dallas. Ive been here my whole life and i feel like i have lived a life of shit. Sometimes i watch tv and i think i could be happy person but then i know this could never happen to person like me. TV is best thing! It makes me happy but then i remember its just tv and i get so depresed and it makes me wish i was dead

Christopher said...

As a long time Dallas resident i can relate to the misery that some of these commenters are complaining about in the sense that this area is somewhat lackluster and perhaps lacking in various elments that could contribute to a certain level of quality of life. But what perplexes me, as a reader, is how they have let this area beat them down so, to the point of apparent suicide wishes. I am concerned for Melissa, and other hapless denizens of this burg who lack the wherewithall and moxie to try to get a leg up, and try to improve their lowly existances. Maybe take some classes, or try to meet new people - i joined an Ultimate Frisbee team last year that has developed into a new passion for me! The sport is getting bigger every day! It was invented in 1978 by Bill Bastoine, in Cincinnatti Ohio, and involves the use of a flying disc, usually made by Frisbee, the best by far, and teams of players can benefit from this exciting game through cardiovascular exercise, and a general joy de vivre, if you will. By Ultimate teammates have become by life, and we're never apart really, the bond created by the competition is so fantastic! Perhaps this would benefit some of you're readers :) Christopher

Chris Matello said...

I agree with Christopher, Dallas is an alright happening burg! I actually play Ultimate religiously - i think i know you, haha!
But to the sad people like Melissa and Linsey, i would say yes, try to branch out a little - i spend alot of time at the dog run at white rock Lake, and i've met many interesting people there, while tending my lil dog and companion Mr Waddlesworth... I'm a dog person but cats are great too!
My friend Don once told me that that is better to love and lost than to never have loved at all and so i say to you Melissa, go into the world and embrace it. I sometimes meet peole at Starbucks, or CD World!

Also Ultimate Frisbee is a sport but also a social gathering mechanism so maybe try that! I dont like to leave URLs but i once saw an OWL, haha! Google dallasultimate though - we always love new plyers!!

Go For It!!

Maybe Amanda could do an article on Ultimate? Its very similar to Football - sometimes even more exciting, if you can believe that!


Daniel said...

The Eagles blow and so does Martin.

BTW, the two songs that have been cited as guilty pleasures ... Life's Been Good and In The City ... were both solo Joe Walsh tunes. He was, I guess, Young to his colleagues' Crosby Stills & Nash, except that, very unlike Neil, he was essentially lame, but hey, it doesn't take that much to be Young to Don Henley, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther's Crosby Stills and Nash. You know?

Martin, either leave or do something to contribute. I don't necessarily disagree with you, but you sound like a real dick. Hope you don't find that too verbally showboat-y.

Anonymous said...

Nobody here

Eagles may have been influential, but it surely was not a good influence! Amen.

Whenever the Eagles come up, I mention that I only liked some of the Joe Walsh stuff. Most folks tell me that was the only part of the Eagles they did not like.

Martin said...

Hi Daniel :)

Its me, Martin! How are you? Thanks for your timely response - you are a shrewd master of dime-store psychology and you kinda mind-fucked me there for a bit, but eventually i deciphered your message.

So sorry you disapprove of my failure to contribute positivity into your pathetic existance - i understand how you must feel, having resigned yourself to a life in the 'metroplex'. Rationalization can be a key element in creating a sense of peace and comfort - i apologize for forcing you to cope with certain grim realities. HAHA