Golden Oldies is a top article about rock critics which asks the forbidden question: are they too old to write about the music? Poking this particular stone makes all the lice curl up in a frenzy of defensiveness.

My point of view – I have no time for the 40-year old film studies professor who is writing a book arguing that rock critics are too old. First off: he’s forty too. Second off: films are just as stupid (and cool) a thing to be spending your time writing about. But ultimately, he’s right – a lot of the current rock critics are too old, even the good ones are too old. I feel too old myself sometimes, and I’m less than half Robert Christgau’s age. It’s not because there’s something inherently wrong in writing about pop when you’re 60 – all writing involves a degree of empathy, after all. We’ve stopped pretending pop is ephemeral, so why should its critics be?

But it’s the very non-ephemerality of pop which is the problem. Since pop isn’t ‘disposable’, it’s likely that you’ll like the same artists and albums at 60 as at 30. And if you’re in a position of critical influence, that’s going to lead to a furring up of pop discourse in general as fond retrospectives, lists, and overpraise of old artists’ mediocre new material take up space which could be spent shining some intelligent light on the really Now stuff. “When was the last time you saw Hendrix?” is Robert Hilburn’s impossibly smug answer to upstart critics. To which the only possible response is, “Who really gives a fuck about Hendrix?”.

The real story here is that this ageing critical population is confined to print. As everyone interviewed says, the younger critics are writing for websites and zines. But they all still seem to think that this is somehow less legitimate than spending your life cranking out shite for some American newspaper. Perhaps the real problem isn’t rock critics’ age, but that they make a career out of something which their readership thinks of as a hobby.

(This link previously covered by Catherine and Fred)