Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Band

I feel like I should be a lot more into The Band than I am. My mother always names Music from the Big Pink as her favorite album and many a friend have told me they got into The Band via Martin Scorsese's supposedly phenomenal The Last Waltz. As is, all I have is their 1969 self-titled second album. A couple of the songs have come up on random shuffle when I uploaded this onto my ipod years ago, but judging from the dates in my itunes, I haven't heard the album since 2008. I guess the thing is, I'm just not into Americana roots music influenced by folk and bluegrass. Neil Young, Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield are nowhere near the top of my list of favorite bands. The more recent bands like Calexico and Golden Smog aren't my cup of tea, either. There are a handful of songs in the Wilco discography I really like (if not downright love), but I can take or leave the former bands of their members. What bands I do like that could be classified in this category (like Creedence Clearwater Revival or Drive-By Truckers) have to much rock-n-roll elements in their songs for me to not press repeat.

So why don't I like this kind of stuff? I guess I prefer my rock-n-roll loud, with bombastic guitar solos and feedback and squeals, and vocalists who throw themselves into their words as if nothing in the world matters more than the song they're singing. I don't get that with The Band. I see a group of talented multi-instrumentalists who incorporate their vast experience into their music, but I hear very little of the early rock-n-roll and Motown that supposedly influences their songs. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is the key track on this record, and easily one of their most beloved songs. Maybe I'm too ignorant about Southern history and the peculiarities of the Civil War but the sadness that's supposed to be so apparent in this song is just lost on me.

The Band is one of those bands that I respect more than I like, and I can't imagining myself revisiting this record anytime soon. I wonder if at this stage in my life, my listening habits are too set for me to get into something that deviates from the type of music I normally listen to. I'd like to consider myself open-minded enough to find things to enjoy in every genre, but I'm not sure about my relationship with roots-tinged Americana, and I'm not sure if that will ever change.

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