Sunday, August 12, 2007

That Noise Is Bootleg, Man

Perhaps that crack with me mentioning the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the same breath merits some further explanation. I didn't always hold the idea that "all recordings are bootlegs" even in the past day I've realize some of the folly of such extremism. Say, for instance, perennial Guard favorite "For Ann (rising)"? As far as I know a performance of it is merely mashing go on the jambox, so is the individual listener less qualified to do that?

Electronic art music aside, my aphorism is a mashup of Alex Ross's stance of "All recordings are fakes" and some reviewer of Brian Wilson's Smile (I want to say Rolling Stone but then that would be admitting to reading it) calling it "the best bootleg of [his] original vision." The term fake seems too harsh to me, as though any pleasure derived from it is somehow dishonourable. Bootlegs, at least in the Phish tape-trader sense of the word, to me implies a lovingly made but essentially flawed product.

And it was the BSO that really hammered this home. Perhaps the naysayers are right that the imperceptible information that modern codecs does contain all the voodoo that makes a performances, or whatever. I was able to pay attention all the way through Beethoven 6!

From my original statement it does sound like it was Southern rock that opened my rock the powah of the rawk show. In fact Skynyrd was my first rock show; I went there with my bestest gentleman friend and his parents at the age of 13 (I know, late start). Too bad it was spectacularly terrible. The sound system was bad, the vocals were clipping the whole time, the playing was apathetic. To add insult to injury we had to cheer for 12 goddamn minutes before they put us out of our misery with their encore. If Johnny Rotten had come up to me putting a caring hand on my shoulder and asked if I had been cheated, I would have said yes.

But why? I'm crabby after attending a mediocre performance, but this sucked. For all the things are awexome for the Beatles destroying the songwriter/performer dialectic, it stands that a Skynyrd show is the only place where the yelling of "FREEBIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRD!" is acceptable, so you think they'd honor their exclusive rights and at least try to play it okay. I am not upset when listening to a Stravinsky performance because he isn't there, and yet rock covers always have a taint about them. So here's a case where the bootleg far exceeds the performance. Rock music is weird.

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