RARA-AVIS: Don't Let the Man Bust Our Music

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 06 Apr 2008

Juri wrote:

> As one who was trying to keep a music discussion going, I remember
> very well
> that Bill Denton told us not to have any.

But usually long after the thread(s) had gone on.

There is a point where all threads outstay their course (cf: The Long Goodbye, post-modern this and post-modern that, what "what" means, etc.), or wander off into the ozone, but as I remember it, the music discussions we've had over the years were usually quite savvy and interesting while they lasted. It was only when they started getting silly (Billy Joel songs, jazz is somehow inherently "hard-boiled" because there was some in such and such a movie, blah blah blah) that Bill usually urged us to pull the plug.

It could be argued, in fact, that the hard-boiled literary genre was at least partially inspired (and its popularity aided and abetted) by centuries of bloody, violent and relentlessly nasty murder ballads -- most of which make today's thuggier-than-thou gangsta rappers look rather tame and unimaginative by comparison. After all, it's not like suddenly people became interested in crime and punishment and revenge and justice and violence and mayhem one sunny weekend in 1922 or something.

In fact, I'd suggest that people like 50 Cent or Ice T aren't so much the societal aberration (or sign of the Apocalypse) that some may claim it is as merely a continuation of a centuries-old folk tradition that has always existed and will no doubt outlast all of us.

Hell, why is hard-boiled popular fiction worthy of respect and even serious discussion, but a four-minute song dealing with the same subject deemed somehow morally suspect or culturally negligible? If anyone could talk the hell out of this topic, it would be us, simply because we'd be approaching it from a literary, not musical perspective.

Obviously this thread won't be for everyone. But please don't negate the interest a thread on crime songs might haver among those who do pay attention to the words.

I'm not proposing music suddenly become the main thrust of the list
(especially since I'm grooving so much on the missing authors thread), but as long as a discussion of crime-related songs stays within the boundaries of interest of this list (which has ranged from discussions of Magnum P.I. and James Ellroy's cult of personality to "blessings of the troops" or what's new in crime comics), and remains respectful and intelligent and proves entertaining to at least some members of the list, let's not automatically clamp down on what some of us deem a worthy -- and relevant -- topic.

Kevin Burton Smith www.thrillingdetective.com

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