08/30/2004: "I hate Jazz."
The other I was having a beer with my friend Elliot, when he imparted some
truly frightening information (If you have young children at home you may
want to have them leave the room for a minute). Apparently there is a
Professor of Jazz somewhere (I'll presume at a college) who is against
downloading. No, not all downloading. He's just opposed to people
Now, you're probably thinking the obvious at this point (Unless, after 30
years, the Manson Family's plans to dose the nation's water supply with LSD
have finally come to fruition. If that's the case, then you're probably
thinking "Got to get naked so I can taste those car horns"), that Jazz
Professor is against downloading because it takes money out of the pockets
of poor, old Jazz musicians (who, if you want to be a strict
traditionalist, really should only be paid in booze and hookers). No, Jazz
Professor is frothing into his spit valve because, in his learned opinion,
downloading individual songs removes them from their historical context
(Maybe the Manson Family was successful after all).
Allow me to explain - and then weep openly. Jazz Professor (and remember
that this man has a Ph.D.) is convinced that to actually grasp the
complexity of any Jazz tune, one must listen to the entire album that it is
part of. In other words, if you download an individual Jazz song, you just
won't "get it" because the song has been removed from original context.
I'll give you a few minutes to eat an entire bottle of Tylenol before we
First, I should point out that I have no real problem with a person being a
"Professor of Jazz". Personally, I think that the field should be expanded
to include "Professor of Goth", "Professor of 80's Hair Metal", and
"Professor of Polka". It's always been a dream of mine to attend an
Academic banquet where a Professor of Country and a Professor of Country
And Western come to blows over which one of them is really the
father of Raylene's baby.
That said, what I do have a problem with is Academics who are convinced
that they're preserving an art form. Just as Quantum Physics tells us that
we can't observe an event without changing it, Common Sense should tell us
that the minute you bring just about any art-form into the classroom -
you've killed it. If you think I'm wrong, then I triple-dog-dare you to
attend a pottery class.
A perfect example of this is Appalachian Clog Dancing. Back before 1973
(Officially know as "The Year Everything Started To Suck"), Appalachian
Clog Dancers were exclusively inbred hillbillies whose extraordinary
clogging ability could be chalked up (or "coaled up" as the case may be) to
their extra toes. They had great names like Clem and ...um...Clem Jr. They
worked in mines, or gas stations, or - better yet - didn't work at all and
received a "Gubberment" check.
Then, one day, Academics, deluded by the ideal of the "Noble Savage" and
intent on preserving Appalachian culture, descended on the valleys and
"hollers" like locust. Those who weren't raped and then set ablaze returned
to their Universities as Professors of Appalachian Clog Dancing. And an
industry was born!
Nowadays, if you encounter an Appalachian Clog Dancer, you can rest assured
that that was also their Major. Today's Cloggers have names like Thurston
and Darwin. Oh, sure they still receive checks from the Government, but
these are in the form of Federal Grants. The only place that you'll see
Appalachian Clog Dancing today is in some college's Sociology department.
Meanwhile, back in Appalachian, everybody listens to Hip-hop. Someday, in
the distant future, Academics will feel the need to preserve Appalachian
Hip-hop culture. And so it goes.
Shit, Luther, I also have it on good authority that drawing a turkey by
tracing your hand was once a respected art-form before teachers started
making their students do it.
So you see, Jazz lost its context years ago. And that's not necessarily a
bad thing. After all, Classical music lost its context over a century and a
half ago and people enjoy it without having to wear powdered wigs. Hell,
Punk lost its context the when Green Day's CD went to Number One, but I
fail to remember civilization coming to a screeching halt.
So, why then, do Jazz purists throw a hissy fit whenever some Rap artist
samples one of Thelonious Gillespie's horn notes without including a 90
volume History of Jazz with the purchase of their CD so that
listeners may place the note in its proper musical context? Well, and you
may be shocked to learn this, there are a lot of Jazz experts out there who
don't actually like Jazz. We can blame society for this.
Around the same time when those College Professors descended on Appalachia,
society started telling people that they needed to appreciate Jazz.
Historians are still divided as to rather this was a by-product of Liberal
White-Guilt or an insidious plot by the KKK to stomp out Black music by
taking the fun out of it. Either way, Jazz became something that you're
supposed to like. Which is probably why I hate it.
There, I said it. I hate Jazz. For a musician to admit to hating Jazz is
tantamount to a Baptist minister admitting that he likes to sneak off every
now and then to a Cradle of Filth concert...with his Gay buddies.
Please keep in mind it's not so much the actual music that I hate, and it's
certainly not the musicians (Except for Kenny G. because he sucks and Miles
Davis because he was an asshole). No, the reason I hate jazz is because the
people who tried to preserve it changed its context from something that was
to be enjoyed to something that was to be appreciated.
Music, like art, literature and the Aqua Teen Hunger Force are meant to be
enjoyed. Not studied until they're no longer fun. And that's why, if I ever
meet a Professor of Ramonesology, I'll slap him so hard that he'll get
picked up for speeding in Trenton.