Rough Index to EddyFest, 2011 (Part one)

Some discussion points, cool one-offs, and funny/enlightening quotes from part one (Dellio/Raggett/Soto) of EddyFest 2011, in order of appearance. This is a supplement to the podcast, not by any means a full-on summary, and it was compiled in fast-forward mode (in other words, it’s pretty much a given that several key discussion points are passed over;  it’s really just a transcript of comments easily translatable into digestible bullet points).


  • CE on writing up ambient music for Spin‘s “Essentials” series: “Oh wait, nobody’s ever done ambient — I have a Brian Eno album! And so, I did ambient. And, and… there’s a train going by, I’m actually outside right now, by the way.” (Nice, unintentional segue there!)
  • CE, in discussing intros to the sections in the book (“I didn’t want them to be perfunctory”) reveals that a couple sections were nixed, including one on world music (“because they could tell that I really didn’t care about world music”) as well as a “one-hit wonders” chapter.
  • re: CE’s essay on the Ultimate Band List (“Walking Into Spiderwebs,” 1998) PD references Andrew Keen’s arguments in The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture, re: online grammar standards (or lack thereof), and CE notes that he didn’t realize when writing the UBL piece just how much abbreviations, lack of punctuation, and generally lousy grammar usage online “would come to bug me.” [From CE’s essay: “There’s a sense of involvemement here, an excitement, a commitment to how people really talk. In the fleeting space of cyber, nobody cares much for punctuation or spelling. Grammatical errors and run-on phrases make UBL writing gyrate like some hyperactive new dance step.”] [SW, thinking to himself at this point: “WTF, Chuck?”]
  • re: CE’s Ramones feature from Rolling Stone [“Punk’s First Family Grow Old Together,” 1990]: “I’m not any kind of devil’s advocate for Rolling Stone, but I think people might understate a little bit what, at certain times in their history, you could get away with there.”
  •  Is the future of pop in albums or singles? “I care more about albums now than I do singles. That sounds like a contradiction, as someone who’s always writing about singles, but I’m much more confident now if I were to make a Top 10 albums list than a Top 10 singles list. And this year, or the last year-and-a-half, I just don’t really care about the radio that much now. I kind of think it’s pretty bad. It’s also less and less clear to me what a single is, you know?”
  • Critical point by CE: “I really like the John Waite album this year. Maybe that’s the John Waite Rule in practise.” [For elucidation of the “John Waite Rule,” you need to refer to issue #1 or #2 of PD’s Radio On, which this author currently has packed away somewhere in a box, but recalls it as being a kinded spirit of sorts to GM’s “Pia Zadora Rule.”]


  • NR echoes PD off the top by noting he was struck in particular by the section introductions in RARAF. CE: “That’s generally the newest writing in the book, and of course I’m already questioning what I wrote in a lot of those introductions. So you can imagine how much I’m questioning the pieces that are 30 years old.”
  • [Meanwhile, back in the control room, SW mildly freaking out, thinking everyone’s going to ask CE questions about his terrific introductions!]

  • CE claims he still questions his career choice — “and I’m 50.”
  • “If you look at even the very first piece in the book, the ‘Over and Out’ piece [an excerpt from CE’s 1983 Pazz & Jop ballot, not to mention his burst on to the public stage of rock criticism], I think I really did want some kind of saviour of music or something, which seems bizarre because it’s really not how I look at music, in general. And I think I saw Metallica as these guys who would come in to save the day, or at least save heavy metal.”
  • “I tend not to read biographies of rock stars. I can probably count on one hand how many I’ve read in my life, and count on zero fingers the number I’ve read in the last few years — I’m just not that interested. But, I’m also a journalist, so I think I’m capable of finding the story… A lot of the features in that book tell a story about a life, not just music, and I do try to link the two.”
  • “I care less about artist’s personal lives probably now than I did 20 years ago. Do I? I think that might be true.” [Followed by some good thoughts on Rihanna and CE’s annoyance about how invested pop fans are today in the personal lives of pop stars.]
  • “Well, for what it’s worth, surprise surprise, I’m suddenly down on country music this year. I think it’s the dullest year since, probably the millennium, at least. It’s starting to get pretty boring to me.”


  • AS notes that he is “very honoured to be calling from the hometown of Will to Power and Miami Sound Machine.” CE returns the honour.
  •  CE: “I think the thing with that review [Mellencamp’s Lonesome Jubilee] — and I was 26 then — it was a warning. It’s like, he’s going to lose it, and I was right, I was totally right. But I heard it on that record.”
  • On losing interest in Prince, CE notes: “I just thought he stopped writing catchy songs and turned into a jam band. [Someone whose name SW couldn’t make out] made me a tape once of the best Prince songs of the ’90s, and I’m like — there’s nothing that’s holding my attention here. This guy used to write great hooks.”
  • “You know what, I heard [Living Color’s] ‘Cult of Personality’ on the radio a couple weeks ago, and it wasn’t bad, it was better than any rock you hear on the radio NOW. Maybe… history gives you a better context.”
  • re: rock criticism, ca. 2011: “Sure there’s a lot of things I could complain about, but for some reason, it doesn’t bug — I think it’s worse but it doesn’t bug me as much, maybe because I’m kind of resigned to it. I don’t submit really long Pazz & Jop ballots anymore. I guess at some point I decided it was out of my hands, or to put it another way, it’s not my responsibility, you know what I mean?”
  • “I have that long essay in the book about how 1986 is the worst year ever for radio [“Dead Air”]… it’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous! It’s a good essay, and it’s really long, and it’s so amazing that Doug Simmons let me ramble on for 4,000 words about how 1986 is the worst year for pop ever, but it’s just like — you know what? I miss 1986.” [SW, for the record, believed in 1986 that CE was wrong about current pop, but in 2011 believes that he was mostly correct. Except about Nu Shooz, of course, which is thankfully rebutted by CE himself.]

Notes for parts two and three to come…


2 thoughts on “Rough Index to EddyFest, 2011 (Part one)

  1. A couple quick things:

    — That Ultimate Band List piece was actually originally published in early 1997, not 1998. (By 1998, I may well have already been tiring of all the bad web punctuation, who knows.)
    — Here’s how the all-important John Waite Rule gets defined on page 10 of Accidental Evolution of Rock’n’Roll: “When Bruce Springsteen puts over a believable record, he does it the same way John Waite does–by accident.” I may or may not have elaborated further, way back when, but here’s how Phil interpreted it in the first issue of Radio On: “The John Waite Rule…essentially proposes that John Waite (typical rock-critic villain; substitute to your liking) comes up with a great song/record in much the same way that Bruce Springsteen (typical rock-critic deity; again, substitute if need be) does–by helplessly flailing about in the dark and every now and again getting lucky.” At this point, 20-plus years into the future, I’m not really sure whether he was putting a few words in my mouth there, or not.
    — The person who made me that ’90s Prince tape (whose name I actually don’t think I mentioned in the interview — just said “somebody” or something) was Robin Rothman, one of my first interns at the Voice, and a writer who wound up covering Woodstock 1999 for me, among other things. She was a jam band fan, and also made me a tape once that was half Phish, half .moe. I didn’t like that one, either.
    — Finally, I think the Rihanna point (just mentioned her because I make this point in a review of a single by her toward the end of the book) was that artists lately seem to increasingly presume fans care about their personal lives, way more than they used to. Which bugs me.

  2. I finished The Cult of the Amateur. I don’t want to leave the impression that I think it’s a great book — far from it. I bought it on a whim, based solely on the book-jacket description, which basically amounts to an in-defense-of-elitism argument. There’s a part of me that subscribes to that, so there was some automatic appeal there. But the guy is repetitive to the point of annoyance, often making the same basic point five different ways, and he has blind spots that are huge. One example among many: at the end of a chapter on mob mentality, he seems to suggest that the internet’s vulnerability to this is what created the conditions for the second Iraq war, and “That is why the arbiters of truth should be the experts — those who speak from a place of knowledge and authority — not the winners of a popularity contest.”
    The rejoinder to that one pretty much writes itself.

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