Artists Don’t Like Critics, what a surprise. M.Doughty of Soul Coughing goes off on one about the Pazz And Jopp poll, in an entertaining but ultimately silly rant. His comments aren’t quite on the David Eggers rabid anti-criticism tip (Critics should i) know their place, ii) never say anything bad about anyone ever ever) but centre on a passionate exhortation that critics should write about real life, man.

This is kind of odd, because it suggests that music and appreciating it is somehow off to the side of real life. It’s that old romantic idea that worships creating art but then belittles the people who experience the art and try to articulate what it means to them. I might write about meeting a person on a bus: I might write about listening to a record. Both are experiences, both are me responding to stimuli – why might one be more ‘real’ than the other?

Or to put it another way, I would rather write or read one excellent piece of music criticism than a hundred shit short stories.

Or to put it yet another way: music criticism – good music criticism – is about life and people and meaning. It just happens to be about music too.

On a more specific level, Doughty’s comments assume that everyone who writes about music is getting it for free. This is not true. I’ve received about four records free in the mail in my life, and only written about one of them. A lot of people who write about music do it for love, just like a lot of people who make music do it for love.