Last night Chuck Klosterman came to Elliott Bay Books to “read” from Killing Yourself To Live, a book that’s been out since 2005. No matter; the store was packed. I wasn’t there to hear his book, and he wasn’t even there to read from it. Through a Q&A session that sounded more like a press briefing at times, it turned into “Klosterman on the music biz,” covering topics that are all the rage these days, like the OC, MySpace, hype about bands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and then hype itself.
It was pretty interesting only in the sense that Klosterman is pretty good at deflecting questions about judgement. Being a pop culture professor in the way he is, it would be almost unfair for him to get all snobby about taste…until he does, and then I got interested. Eventually people got him talking, and this was the best part:
“I hate the fact that newness has become such an important quality to the value of music,” he sputtered. He went on to say that his goal is to not listen to anything that has been out for less than a year, in order to avoid the inevitable “avalanche of shit” that clogs up the streets. Or, wires. While Klosterman rightly made the objection to a question about today’s highly disposable music (based on the truth that pop music’s always been disposable, we just dont know about it b/c it’s been disposed of), he never quite acknowledged what I think some people were getting at. Is music today worse because of the medium through which it communicates?
It’s pretty obvious why Klosterman would avoid judgement on this one. I’m inclined to agree with his vaguely circular answer, that these things are cyclical, and just as youth becomes age becomes youth, one would expect musical value to be experienced through the same lens.
One more thing: someone asked about SPIN‘s new redesign, wanting to know Chuck’s take on the corporate drama. In trying to gloss over his feelings for Andy Pemberton (former Blender guy, now SPIN guy) he called him “anit-intellectual,” but then lost his composure and I think was looking for a laugh and blurted out “he’s just a dumb guy.” I don’t think it’s actually a war between the pitiful businessmen and the splendid writers though; all those magazines are struggling. It’s like if Rolling Stone represents rock music, who started off against the man and who now is the man and quite comfortable being the man until they have to be the man.