“Digging” is what we 20th Century music listeners did. We walked into a music store, used or new, and literally dug through the bins and racks for new music. In the chain stores the music was wrapped in plastic or crated in shop-lifting denying security packaging.1 In the used stores, records and cassettes (later CDs), the music was well-worn. Record covers were scratched, bent-cornered, and initialed.2 Cassette and CD cases were cracked.3 My first two record purchases4 in 1981 were the result of record store digging, and both were bought because of their cover art.
Today, we digitally dig. We conduct Internet and iTunes searches that provide us thousands and upon thousand of hits. Digging through them takes a lot longer and ends up killing hours of one’s life.5 One link, song, or video leads to another, another, and another. Digital digging is not for the faint of heart. Shortcuts are available though. If you are like me, you can dig into your memory and find your favorite songs and musicians that disappeared from your life when your mom chucked all your shit you didn’t take to college. Once you have retrieved these songs and musicians from your memory, you can get on iTunes and find them for .99 cents. Another shortcut is to listen to friends, or music reviewers. Friends are far more trustworthy than music reviewers. Your friends know you. Whereas music reviewers are people who had no friends in high school, dated rarely in college, and spent all of their 20s writing for stupid ass websites.
The music reviewers who make it out of their 20s without having their sad little lives and dreams crushed moved on to online zines and “newspapers.” These bastards not only think they know music, but they will also throw out rare and odd examples to stump others with obscure shit. This list from LAWEEKLY Blogs is an example of music reviewers and critics “dropping knowledge.” It is a list of what they entitle “Top 20 Musicians of All Time, In Any Genre: The Complete List.”
This “list” is a great example of throwing out some obscure shit like:
– #18 Xian Xinghai, was 1930s Chinese composer that “… gave form to a distinctive Chinese art form that has guided generations of Eastern musicians.”
– #14 Caetano Veloso, the “Bob Dylan of Brazil” and the co-founder of Tropicalia… which was progressive poetry, theater and a music movement that “… helped define Latin America’s psychedelic ’60s.”
– #13 Fela Kuti, “pioneered Afro-Beat – a blend of James Brown, Nigerian highlife, and pan-African ideals.” He is the subject of a Tony-nominated Broadway musical.
– #10 Guido D’Arezzo was a medieval theorist (11th Century) who invented the musical notation we still use today. He invented “do-re-mi-fa-so-la-te-do.”6
I can’t deny the importance or abilities of these artists and thinkers.7 But then these reviewers top the list off with William Fucking Hung, and show that “these type of lists are entirely subjective and unaccountable.” WTF William Fucking Hung is the number one on their list? Their reason: “Truly great musical talents aren’t often heard. You won’t find one every year, or even every generation. In fact, whole millenniums tend to slip away without one surfacing… William Hung … is the greatest musician of all time – in any genre – because he epitomizes our highs, our lows, and our struggles to make ourselves heard.” —– This is a musical review and critique at its worst. Supposed music nerds that give you a list that has Guido D’Arezzo and Xian Xinghai on it can’t really expect you to take William Fucking Hung as the symbol of us and our quest to be heard. William Fucking Hung as their number one is a lazy-ass attempt to give voice to the inability to name a real number one… or a failed attempt to be funny.
I was going to digitally dig for some links of music by Xian Xinghai, Caetano Veloso, and Fela Kuti so I could then share them with you.8 However, I have survived this long without hearing their music and I imagine I will continue to survive without hearing them. If interested you can go dig for them yourself.
1. If the store clerk was an asshole, he or she would not remove the security packaging thus you were forced to use your mom’s giant-ass scissors or kitchen knives to saw through the industrial strength plastic to get to your cassette or CD. Invariably you would crack the cassette or CD case. With cassettes this wasn’t a problem, you could always go find the case holding your Bell Biv Davoe cassette, remove the paper lining and insert your Great White liner, and in the process chuck BBD into the trash (or your closet). If you did this with a CD, you only got to replace the cover liner, the fucking back side of the liner was literally encased. So the front was Great White, whereas the back of the CD case said it held songs that told you “… that girl is poison …”
2. Putting one’s name or initials on a record cover was very important if you shared a home with siblings who were known for stealing your shit. It also assisted in reminding your friends, who you let borrow the record, that shit was yours. Some of us used record covers to display our assomeness in art. Hearts, Satanic pentagrams, penises, and goofy faces are just some of the examples of our artistic prowess. The apex of record cover art drawing (by owner) was the disfigurement of the band/artist’s face. Blackened teeth – which implied a rural and redneck look – glasses, and mustaches seemed to be the common way to make musicians look stupid. Cassettes and CDs killed this art form.
3. See note 1.
4. Asia’s “Asia” and Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast.”
5. Add bourbon to these digital digging episodes and I can, literally, spend a whole night listening to and buying music. Needless to say, I turn off my laptop once I get three bourbons in me. If I don’t, I either write a profantity-laced blog post on the joys of douchebaggery, or I spend $313.74 on German heavy metal.
6. So if I had a time machine, I could go back in time and kick this guy’s ass for inventing the mnemonic that allowed the making of that awful Sound of Music song.
7. I’m too lazy to digitally dig and find some video of them or someone playing their music, so I have to take the list’s authors at their word.
8. I was also going to provide a link for that fucking Sound of Music song about “… doe, a deer, a female deer …” but thought better of it.