Guilty Pleasures (Theory And Practice)

I’ve just been sent a review copy of a new compilation of DFA stuff and very fine it is too. But how’s about this for a quote from the press release, attributed to James Murphy:

“We’d both admit to loving things like The Smiths. Now, that’s very in vogue, but I guarantee you, in ’99/2000, it wasn’t something you said particularly loud.”

I want to say two things about that. Firstly, I don’t remember a period when The Smiths were so unfashionable you couldn’t talk about them, certainly not the turn of the millenium. In fact, I distinctly remember them getting played to death in pretty much every indie club I went to across the country. I can also distinctly remember The Strokes wowing an NME journalist back then by claiming The Smiths as a defining influence. And that was when Julian & Co where defining what was hot and what was not, changing music/fashion in the process. So, you know, whatever.

The second thing is something that’s been bugging me for a while, at least since I visited Rome in the summer. More specifically, I’ve been thinking this at least since I went to the early Christian catacombs just outside of Rome. I’m pretty sure that it stems from there, that bastion of of hope and faux-martyrdom. The thought is this. Why is it that we build into our aesthetics the idea of senseless persecution? Why do we so treasure people who were before their time, people who were misunderstood and derided? I’m sure it extends past the elitist cool thing perfected by DFA. For example, I’ll kind of give them their dues when they talk about liking Gang of Four back in 1999. Okay, it doesn’t mean James or Tim are great people or great artists or anything, but Gang of Four were hardly as widely talked about then as they were now. But The Smiths? Perfect example. Not only were they ‘misunderstood’ etc etc etc at the time, with all those songs about being ‘misunderstood’, DFA were understanding their ‘misunderstanding’ before any of you lot. The Smiths might have been self-conciously miserable and the rest but they were a Top Of The Pops band with lots of happy tunes that people enjoyed at the time and enjoy now. It seems that we like martyrs so much, we don’t just admire them, we create them.

Heaven knows I’m more Catholic than you now, obviously.