Monthly Archives: September 2010

Spotted on the Subway: “Our Band Could Be Your Life” by Michael Azerrad

Certain males of a certain age tend to talk about music in terms of ‘bands’, some women talk this way – of course, but it is primarily a guy thing.  I fully include myself in this category, I talk about the bands I follow, their frontmen, their hits, their B-sides, and their rockumentary which includes all kinds of good footage – or doesn’t   Every so often I will attend a show, something new or something time-tested and true, sometimes a reunion or perhaps the performance of a seminal album.  Occasionally, I’ll recognize a rock star on the street and find myself too intimidated to speak with them, this may be because I’m shy or because the artist carries with him a reputation for being prickly and not friendly to strangers who walk up to say ‘hello’.

Thinking about this, I often wonder if discussion of music in terms of bands is a reflection of (or a correction for) the rampant individualism in the art world today.  Even in the world of musical collaboration, there are Rock Stars and session musicians.  Bands are really the projects of one or two charismatic  performers and the players they hire.  But when we describe a band, and even when they are depicted by their record label, they look like a street gang or a corporate board or an artists’ collective, or whatever image they want to project for their audience.  The idea of collaboration, whether it is truly accurate or not, is essential to convincing us the audience that there is party that we do not want to miss.