Friday, March 9, 2012

Sometimes Tomorrow Comes Soaked in Treasure and Blood

A wise person once observed that opinions and one's nether orifice have a stark, keen similarity. Everybody has one, which is not of course the same thing as everybody wanting one. It is not even the same as everybody wanting some. Do not take my word for that last point. Ask Eddie and Diamond Dave. I have my own variation on that piece of ancient wisdom, which is that there is a resemblance between an "unsolicited" opinion and a person's nether orifice: I am aware that everybody has one but unless I expressly tell you otherwise I do not want to be exposed to yours.

I have been thinking about that a lot this week - in significant part because I find it so damn amusing. I have also been thinking about it a bit in view of Tuesday's release of the new Springsteen disc, "Wrecking Ball". The world of Springsteen fans is comprised principally of three types of fans - all of whom live together on-line under the same roof.

First, there are the fans who know more about Springsteen than not just anyone they know but anyone ANYONE knows and based upon that unparalleled knowledge are uniquely qualified to tell you why the latest project (whatever it might be) is the most unredeemable piece of dreck he has ever foisted upon his fans.

Second, there are the fans who know more about Springsteen than not just anyone they know but anyone ANYONE knows and based upon that unparalleled knowledge are uniquely qualified to tell you why the latest project (whatever it might be) is the most singularly important piece of art ever produced in any format at any time in the history of the world.

Finally, there are the fans who have enjoyed and paid attention to Springsteen's music with a certain degree of passion and who do not feel they are the world's foremost authority on what is proper for everyone else to think and feel about it. It is my most sincere hope that I fall into that third and final category. Given that my love of Springsteen comes to me courtesy of my oldest brother Bill (and he actually does know as much - if not more - about music than any person I have ever known), who I would place squarely in the third group, I hope that I have continued to honor that legacy. And I hope that I have paid it forward as it were or passed it on to Rob. I am fairly confident that I have.

The on-line world of Springsteen fans is probably a great deal like the on-line world everywhere and very much like our brick and mortar real world in that much that is merely opinion is expressed in the guise of fact. People not only enjoy expressing their opinions, often times strongly and sometimes obnoxiously (Ah the bravery of on-line anonymity!) but they really enjoy presenting them not for what they are but as something else altogether. Simply put, you are entitled to believe whatever it is you want to believe. Your belief in it may or may not make it a fact. The two terms are not interchangeable. How about an example to help makes things clearer? You may believe that Rick Santorum is a swell guy and would make a great President of the United States. In fact, he is not and he would not. See the distinction?

I have read with more than a little amusement the number of threads on BTX this week seeking the opinion of others regarding the record (as if my opinion needs your opinion to be validated) as well as analyzing to the point of distraction the reviews from various magazines, newspapers and on-line sites. A critic who wrote a glowing review was lauded for his insight and aptitude by the denizens of the Second Circle while being dismissed as a sycophant by those in the First Circle. A critic who wrote an unfavorable review endured the flip side of the same experience. Check out the thread responding to Jim Farber of the New York Daily News' review and see the phenomenon for yourself.

My .02? I do not care what your opinion is of "Wrecking Ball". I say that not because I think that if (a) your opinion matches my own we are automatically in the finals of the "World's Smartest Human" contest; or (b) if your opinion disagrees with my own then we can not continue the charade of treating you as a person who possesses a reasonable intellect. I say that I do not care simply because your opinion has no influence at all on mine. Neither should mine on you. I happen to enjoy the record quite a bit. If you plunked your hard-earned money down on it and you similarly enjoy it then I am happy for you. If you do not enjoy it, then I hope you can get that scratch returned to your wallet from the retailer from whom you purchased it.

So you use what you’ve got and you learn to make do
You take the old, you make it new
If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ’em on sight
I’m a jack of all trades, we’ll be all right
I’m a jack of all trades, we’ll be all right


....whether everybody agrees with us or not.

-AK

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