Over at The 9513, they’re talking about XXX music. There are some substantial points to be made, which I will make in a second, but let’s just start with the obvious. I mean, come on! XXX? “Oh, it’s about moonshine.” Bullshit. It’s about dick music. I hate this shit. Not dick music. I like me some dick music as much as the next person. I mean, I had this shit where the stance is “We’re going to be all balls-out in your face real but first we’re going to play coy about what we’re up to.”
So, god, let me go through the motions of pointing it out so that they can go through the motions of pretending like what they’re obviously saying is not the case and blah blah blah. You know the routine. And yet, like any other good ritual, we have to act it out.
So, according to Adam Sheets over at No Depression, here are the things that XXX isn’t like:
manufactured pop whores like Katy Perry
tweenyboppers like Justin Bieber
pretty boy psuedo-country like Rascal Flatts (yes, I know he doesn’t know what a pretty boy is. Just roll with it.)
XXX’s NPR-friendly cousin (Americana, so Old Crow Medicine Show makes the cut but Gillian Welch apparently doesn’t)
The Partridge Family
And here are the things that XXX is like:
Tom T. Hall
David Allan Coe
the Marshall Tucker Band
the Allman Brothers
Black Oak Arkansas
Guns & Roses
Yes, it’s “chick shit bad, dude shit good.” Of course, you probably already got that from the XXX name, since that, and the genuflecting to the 70s, pretty much signals “Mostly we just want the women to shut up and look hot in our videos.” Granted, Jennings’ list is a tiny bit more woman-inclusive, but it’s still very boy-heavy. And I mean “very.”
Here’s the thing, the music on these lists is awesome. I’ve been introduced to a lot of it through Nine Bullets. And I agree that it deserves to be more widely heard. But the guys over at Nine Bullets manage to say “here’s some awesome, badass music that you should check out,” and not give the impression that “awesome, badass music” by definition, isn’t chick shit. So, it can be done.
It’d be nice if the guys who were putting the public face on XXX made a similar effort.
But lord almighty, here’s the other thing. Sheets’ manifesto? It would take me all day to list all of the ways in which this is a fantasy about how awesome it was when we were kids. Of course, as John Stewart has pointed out, of course it was more awesome when we were kids. We were kids. But this part is the most hilarious to me: “The case is that they’re probably working 40 hours a week in a town where Wal-Mart is the only music store and mainstream rock and country are the only options.”
Forget whether anyone still works in small towns or even can, let’s just consider how large the market can be of working men who only learn about music at Walmart or on the radio. I mean, I’m sure those ninety-seven people are very excited about this, but most folks who love music have CD players and at least friends with an internet connection. Shoot, Jennings is promoting this on satellite radio, which presupposes listeners who are a step beyond Walmart and the FM radio. They aren’t even actually marketing the music to the people they claim to be marketing to (wisely, I would add).
And then, in order to have this particular dick rock history of music, you have to make claims like, “The last stand of the outlaws in the mainstream may have been the grunge movement along with bands like Guns n’ Roses and Pantera.” Are we just out of politeness supposed to not mention that there’s simply no version of reality in which grunge was on a happy continuum with Guns n’ Roses? Should we forget that grunge came along, in part, as a critique of bands like Guns n’ Roses?
The depressing thing is that once you start narrowing down the lists offered by Sheets and Jennings to women who aren’t related to some famous dude or working with Jack White, their list of acceptable XXX women is minuscule. And it doesn’t give you any sense of what aesthetic artists who are female should have. I mean, I love Roseanne Cash, but Roseanne Cash, Dolly Parton, and Wanda Jackson on the same list is just covering your ass, not saying that there’s some sound they all have in common.
Even if you were a kick-ass woman artist, based on those names, how would you know if you were right for the format?
So, yeah, I was joking about “cunt country music.” It’s hard to imagine who would even be in such a thing or how a “fuck you, men, this music’s for hard-core bitches!” radio format would even be treated as anything other than a joke. Or why anyone would want to treat it as anything other than a joke.
But it’s just a matter of course to frame some music as being great because it’s not pussified, not girly, not Taylor Swift, and that sucks. The music they’re proposing to put in the XXX format? I like it a lot. You could do a lot worse for interesting things to listen to than the bands and artists mentioned at either place.
But it pisses me off that, in order to support a new format, I have to accept the premise that people like me have ruined music for the people who matter.