By shane

Hi, folks. It's been a while. Many, many months since my last column, and I'm not kidding here - I feel pretty bad about that.

So why did I wait so long? I'd made a pact with myself that I'd start forcing myself into writing a new column every month. Hell, Dave Barry can do it every week, so I should have no problem coming up with something every month, right? Well, it didn't quite work according to plan.
If there's one excuse that I can offer for my extended absence, it's been that little to nothing has been going on. I haven't felt that FIRE - you know, those gut-clenching butterflies - that one can ONLY get from hearing a piece of music that defies all boundaries and makes words seem useless... Hell, it's been SO long since a record's moved me like that. I'm hoping - nay, I'm praying - that 2000 has been a pretty lacking year in terms of music... because if it HASN'T been, the only other possible answer is that I've "grown up," and God forbid that.

There's some creepy things about aging that I can't figure out. As a lifelong music nerd and obsessive fan, there have been two things that I've found to be true about aging. These are horrid, horrid stereotypes, and I'm certain that there are exceptions to these rules, yet I still feel compelled to state them.

Shane's Rule of Aging #1: When people get old, their music tastes inevitably start to suck.

Again, there are exceptions to the rule, I know. We've got a cat named Jadsie on our mailing list. And I'm not in any way singling him out as being "old," either, so don't kick me with your cane, Jads, I'm only poking fun. He's far from decrepit, he's only in his early 40's. But the point is, Jads has been around for a bit. He's old school cool, and regales us often on the list with stories of seeing the New York Dolls play at CBGB's and such. But the greatest part about Jadsie is that he still goes out to the stores every week and picks up new music. He's still telling us all about great new tracks that we should all rush out and buy. And all I have to say is: Fuck, man, that's cool. I hope with all of my essence that I, too, never lose the plot and stay with my game. And it's that reason that I respect Jads more than nearly anybody else alive. Dead serious.

But like I said, he's an exception to the rule. Most people reach this mythical age of "maturity" or whatever you call it, and their taste in music comes to a grinding halt. For some bizarro reason, a lot of people who are reeeeeally into music during their formative years listen to nothing but THAT EXACT MUSIC for the rest of their lives. And that just creeps me out. Why? Because I've begun to notice it happening to me.

What have I been listening to lately? The Charlatans. The Stone Roses. The Smiths. New Order. And it gets even MORE disturbing. Bob Dylan. Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Neil Young. Joni Mitchell. Van Morrison. I've been on a personal rediscovery kick lately that's seen me pull out "classic" albums and forget about new stuff.

I'm just not getting into this new crop of bands. Coldplay? Nope - they're sounding like England's version of Toad the Wet Sprocket or something. JJ72? Thanks, I'll pass - as one of my closest friends said when I played him "Snow": "They sound like Joan Baez fronting the Manic Street Preachers on a bad day." Is it truly because these bands are less than spectacular? I hope so, because otherwise I'm turning into my father, who sits around and listens to old Santana and Chicago albums because nothing since then has really grabbed him.

Which brings us to:

Shane's Rule of Aging #2: When musicians get old, their music inevitably starts to suck.

Again, I'm certain there are exceptions to the rule. Hell, most blues musicians don't even begin to get respect until they start losing their hair. But 9 out of 10 times, musicians reach this kind of disturbing burn-out faze at middle age where they just start becoming... boring. Look at Clapton... McCartney... Dylan... Weller... Gabriel... even, arguably, Costello, Partridge, or Marr. Occasionally, there are still touches of brilliance, but for the most part, they've all gone soft. I have little to no doubt that if John Lennon were still alive today, he'd be making boring music for boring people. It's almost as though artists have a finite amount of creative brilliance to lend to the world, and once they peak, it's just a painful decline that only the arse-licking tongues of Rolling Stone critics can still find appealing.

So where does that leave me? In the throng of developing a full scale complex, it seems. Every time I find myself hating an album, a voice in my brain makes me double-check my findings, just to make sure that I somehow haven't simply failed to "get it."

I want to be a freakish aging music nerd. I want to be the terrifying grey-haired bloke who hangs out in the back at concerts and causes people to go, "Heh, heh, should we tell the old man that the Hawkwind reunion show's a few doors down?" I want to be the guy who hangs out in record stores and interrupts kids to tell them they're making the wrong purchases. I want to be the local old guy who has the late night show on college radio that all the kids still love.

And I'm far from out of the loop yet, my friends. My entire point of this column was to wax poetic about the album that I heard once and had it reinstill my faith in good music and my faith in my own musical tastes. That record is called "Kid A" by a group most of you are probably familiar with, and here's hoping it changes the musical landscape of Y2K. Critics will probably tell you that it's too experimental for its own good and give it mediocre reviews. Don't listen to them - it's genius. Pure, unadulterated genius. It's as if Thom Yorke was backed by Brian Eno, Kevin Shields, and Jason Pierce all at once. It's a brave, non-compromising triumph.

And most importantly, it doesn't make me feel old. I'm turning 30 in 4 months. And while that's far from being put to pasture, it's still an age where words like "responsibility" and "maturity" are supposed to take on new meanings. Well, fuck that. I'm fighting it out to the end.