I am, as I write this, listening to Genesis. Early-to-mid period Genesis (and this is important).?Selling England by the Pound. Gabriel and Hackett still in place. But there, on track four, a sign of something to come: a track written, and sung, by Phil Collins. A simple little love song, in amidst the tales of crackpots and monsters on the rest of the album.
It has always been fashionable to mock Genesis. But there are categories of mocking. Early period Genesis is mockable, but not as mockable as the Collins-Rutherford-Banks era. The Lamb Dies Down On Broadway is less mockable than any other album.?And obviously Marillion are much more mockable.
Why is this? Why do certain bands and musicians attack a certain derision? It’s the kind of derision that was on display at the weekend because there was a programme about the Eagles on the telly. Some people really, really hate the Eagles (or say they do). But when you ask them?why they?hate the Eagles, rather than dislike them or simply disregard them, you don’t often get a thought-through answer. Normally, the answer is some variant of?because they’re shit.?For some people, disliking the Eagles comes as naturally as drinking water. They could no more give it up than they could give up food.
Here’s the thing, though: The Eagles aren’t “shit”. Neither are Genesis, or even Marillion. They’re all very, very good at what they do. What people mean when they say “I hate the Eagles” is this: The Eagles offend my worldview. That type of band playing that type of music should still not be as popular as they are. And my own sense of who I am is informed by my worldview, and my ability to say some things are “shit” and some things are “worthwhile”. The intrinsic value of these things is beside the point, and who can say what intrinsic value is, anyway? My saying “I hate the Eagles” is as much a part of me as my saying “I love Louis CK”.
To put it another way: I’m too hip for the Eagles.
To which I say: why shut yourself off to something which might be brilliant?
If I’d spent as much time saying I hated the Eagles as I did when I was 20, I might never have discovered that they recorded this: