love me do
March 21, 2009
as with most things in my life, i came to music through reading. up until i was sixteen, i had a very limited interest in music (in a telling sign of early pretension, when i was maybe eight or nine i decided at one point that i only liked “classical music,” even though i had probably never heard “classical music” outside of a movie soundtrack or TV commercial, but i decided and so i was a little adorno for a few months and i only listened to talk radio for and stuck my fingers in my ears when my parents tried to play tom petty in the car). as a child i showed no aptitude for music at all and didn’t even play triangle or recorder or whatever you’re supposed to learn in elementary school. then when i was sixteen, i fell in love with classic rock and the story is very cliche after that, so cliche that it could be filmed by crowe or linklater with their eyes closed and hands tied behind their backs, scenes of me fetishizing my purchases from the used CD store in the same plaza as my first job and wearing my led zeppelin t-shirt to school and the buttons on my messenger bag and blah blah blah blah blah. today i have a vast sea of completely useless music knowledge which i don’t need, discographies clogging up my databanks and what have you. i started accumulating all this by reading music criticism and rock ephemera online (it was augmented later by checking out rock biographies from the library, which are almost without fail poorly written but also almost without fail really pleasing reads). my favorite rock critic will never be lester bangs (occasionally great but uneven and way too keyed up) or greil marcus (i like some of his stuff i’ve read but he’s too smart to really be a rock critic, way more critic than rock) or nick hornby (i mistyped his name as “nick horny” in an e-mail recently which made a funny if unintentional joke) because my favorite critic is this guy george starostin, who is a russian linguist who used to moonlight as a music critic online, who was the first real critic of anything i read with any regularity. on the internet back when i was first learning about music there wasn’t all there is now, there were no mp3 blogs or anything (god i feel old and i’m not even old). back then there was mostly allmusic which was a big site with lots of information but not much writing on it and then there were a few independent reviewers (like mark prindle (who was too EXTREME for me) and music junkies anonymous (uneven)) but the best one for me was this site only solitaire by george starostin, because it was huge and seemed to have everything. george would write long, detailed reviews of the entire discography of a band, record by record, and then move on to the next band and by the time i started reading it, i’m sure he had written like hundreds of thousands of words about this music. i gravitated to him because his site was on the one hand so big and full of knowledge and information and yet also full of personal revelation and opinion and feeling, which is really the stuff i come to criticism for. starostin, who quit reviewing music after his father died, wasn’t the greatest critic but the sheer force and amount of his writing deeply influenced my own early perspective on music — i thought the beatles were better than the stones and i thought the who were more unique than the beatles and i thought led zeppelin were crappier than the other three because he wrote all of these things and i internalized his thoughts. in many cases i carefully read his descriptions and representations of the albums before, you know, actually listening to the albums themselves. his viewpoint influenced mine so much that the first time i really and truly got high (there is a really good story here i won’t tell but i will tell this other part) we were listening to music and we had been listening to i don’t know the flaming lips or something and then we were going to put on a new album and somebody said “pink floyd” and i said that i hated pink floyd because they were “cold and detached, except for their early stuff with syd barret.” i don’t think i had ever really listened to pink floyd at that point, not DSOTM much less the madcap laughs, but i had this firm and prescriptive judgment which was entirely based on reading starostin’s reviews. it was totally like when the kid in that noah baumbach movie describes “the metamorphosis” as being kafkaesque. this same night i described nerds rope as being like DNA and said i could read auras, oh youth. i guess if i was turning sixteen today and music obsessed, i would have probably started with pitchfork or popmatters or some mp3 blog or something, which would have been fine, but i kind of like that i learned about music from this weird-ass russian linguist and his huge obsessive babble tower.
so this is all to say that here is a cover of the beatles song “love me do.” i listened to the beatles so much when i was sixteen and seventeen that i really would never choose to listen to them now and don’t have any of their music, although sometimes other people put them on or they’re in a movieand i enjoy it. i’d been playing around with the main rhythm guitar loop of this for a while on acoustic guitar when i thought to put “love me do” to it. one of my main problems with playing covers is that i have a terrible memory for lyrics so the fact that love me do has basically one line made it a natural choice for a cover! my favorite part of playing it is stretching out the drone of the “pleeeeaaaasseee” because what is happening on the rhythm guitar at that point is that i’m alternating between an open string and a fretted note playing the same tone and then my voice comes in also and i like the way the three voices doing the same thing interact. my second favorite part of the song is near the end when the toms come tumbling in with the distorted guitar, it feels very, i don’t know, gallop-y to me. my least favorite part is the vocals. i’m watching american idol for the first time this season and i love it and one thing i love is how an unwritten requirement of every song seems to be that it has to have the singer powerfully holding one note for a really long time. it’s really hard for me to hold the “pleeeaaaassee” parts, though, and this is yet another reason why i’m not on american idol.