Klosterman On My Mind: I Plan To Kill My Musical Soul By Way Of The Boss
Because I just finished reading (and writing about) Chuck Klosterman’s Killing Yourself To Live, I have a lot of my mind. I’m thinking about the way he can divert your eyes with a paragraph chocked-full of detail and do a one line sentence paragraph to declare something totally true, wacky, unbelievable or something totally relatable. I think about the anthropomorphic traits he assigns to things, like the ‘buildings that look hungover’ in Aberdeen, WA. I think about his relationships to the three women he’s dedicated the book to – Dianne, Quincy and Lenore (and I wonder who his wife is now or if he’s married at all.) I think a lot about his theory that “Your Nemesis can’t be You Nemesis unless he is also your friend.” (And I think about My Nemesis.)
I also think a lot about his theories about Led Zeppelin: that every man goes through a phase in their life, no matter how long, where they think and know that Zeppelin is the greatest band of all time. He calls them, “The most legitimately timeless musical entity of the past half century; they are the only group in the history of rock ‘n’ roll that every male rock fan seems to experience in the exact same way.”
But it bothers me because Led Zeppelin is the first band I ever loved. I feel discluded only because he doesn’t address female fans – which I know there are plenty. Consider this an open letter to address the sexism in the PERFECT description in Led Zeppelin. (And it is perfect.)
I also think about asking him his theories about Nirvana and his visit to, “the Xanadu of modern rock deaths;the mighty K.C.” (I also plan to ask him about his use and thoughts of the semi-colon. A device I hate.) I have this theory that Kurt Cobain’s suicide is one of the most misunderstood acts of the 20th century. But that is an entirely different chapter in a book I haven’t written yet.
That all being said, when I accidentally stayed up too late finishing this book, that I’ve already read, because ‘one more chapter, one more chapter’ I was thinking about the phrase Killing Yourself To Live. And what it would take for me to Kill Myself While Living. And I immediately thought about something that has been in the back of my mind while reading this entire book (and something I’ve been thinking about venturing towards.)
I should listen to a Bruce Springsteen record all the way through.
Yes, I know that Bruce Springsteen isn’t dead. He’s not even close. But I hate Bruce Springsteen. You see, I was the only person in the entire history of my family EVER to be born in the state of New Jersey. I was born in Camden, no less. (Which I think was once ranked as the 4th Most Dangerous City in the U.S.) My birthplace has a lot to do with my hatred towards Bruce. People from New Jersey are expected to immediately love The Boss. We are supposed to give him our undying love because he tells the story we cannot. (Which isn’t even true.) About the hardships of growing up in an industrialized blue collar neighborhood in The Armpit Of America that is New Jersey (it’s smelly, crowded, the taxes are high, you can’t make a left hand turn anywhere and The New Jersey Turnpike – nuff said.) But I’m always thinking, ‘isn’t Born To Run about LEAVING New Jersey? Because, you know, he wanted TO GET OUT, just like the rest of us?’
The only Bruce Springsteen song I’m sure I’ve heard all the way through (wait, this song is 7 minutes long?) is “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” because it’s played in grocery stores a lot. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve spent the majority of my life in New Jersey grocery stores or if it’s because grocery stores play the kind of radio stations that play “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” a lot. (Which, feels like a lot. I’m pretty sure that chorus-hook-bridge combo is Classic Rock Radio gold.) But I like to dance in grocery stores, as I’ve spent a lot of my life in them. (I love grocery stores. My mom and I have this tradition. Since I was in diapers she’s been taking me grocery shopping. When I came home from college over breaks, I looked forward to it and I look forward to it this summer when I live at home….for a few weeks.)
In order to Kill Myself While Living – who else but Klosterman could inspire this task – would to be to take on the task of listening to an entire album by an artist I hate. No, I loathe him. So this is going to be fun for all of us.
Why do it? Because I am sure that there is always another side to a story. People have been debating music before The Velvet Underground, before Beatles vs. Stones before The Who vs. Led Zeppelin and before which small font band you should waste your $300 on to see at Coachella. I wrote an entire Year End List about all the records I didn’t like that came out in 2012.
People write a lot of reviews of music all over the internet. They’re all usually favorable, which is fine. But when someone writes something and it doesn’t match up to expectations, the only backlash is outrage. Where has the Lester Bangs in all of us gone? Why is no one calling The National unimportant goons? Why am I the ONLY person annoyed at Bradford Cox? Thank god for Stereogum and their comments section. People want favorable or they want nothing at all. Why? That’s stupid.
So because I can, I want to write a review of a record I know I’m not going to enjoy. That being said, I am absolutely terrified that I am going to enjoy listening to Bruce Springsteen. I don’t even hate saxophone rock: I love Billy Joel (my family is New York, my dad was raised on Long Island, I don’t need a third thing here) and I love that era of The Rolling Stones (wait, was it all of it?). I just know that enjoying this is one of the many possibilities, so why not explore it publicly?
(Although I did enjoy reading David Remnick’s long profile of him in the New Yorker. It was nice to learn about him and not have to listen to his music.)
So let’s all settle down to listen to Born To Run together and I’ll give you a track by track of thoughts, concerns, likes (!!), dislikes and everything in between.