Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Marx, Strummer, and Jones

I'm not a big fan of Marxist crit, mostly because Marxist critics are not of the same world I live in: of course class can inform a critical understanding of cultural phenomena--it just seems that such analyses stop short, aren't consistent with individual human behavior, or are simply self-satisfied. (Exhibit "A" is Gregory Sholette's interesting discourse on "dark matter," the subject of Chris Gilbert's Cram Sessions 02 at the BMA: Sholette more or less accurately describes the role of amateur, fallen, and outsider artists, as well as hobbyists, craftspeople, and other unclassifiable creators on the margin--it's just that he fumbles from there, misreading the diverse motives of producers as well as consumers, and leading us to political interpretations that neither address nor explain the state of things.)

Enter Stephen Metcalf of the Nation, who looks at the storied rock 'n' roll songwriting duos--McCartney and Lennon, Jagger and Richards, Strummer and Jones--and first notes that each great team consisted of one middle-class (the former) and one working-class (the latter) member. He doesn't just stop there, either--next on the agenda is an examination of the changing relationship between the middle and working classes, and an interesting conjecture that explains the waning relevance of rock music today; read the whole thing.


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