One Pure Thought

2012-12-07T09-09-33_0Here is One Pure Thought:

There is nothing new under the sun.  Solomon wrote that. It’s in the Bible.

It is an old idea. But I keep coming back to it.

I find myself reading record and concert reviews these days by writers submitting their work for the newspaper I edit.

I am constantly struck by the similarities between the reviews these kids write today for bands I never heard of, and the reviews I wrote when I was their age, in my 20s, writing about bands my editor had never heard of. Having been praised occasionally for the fact that I dared review – for instance – the Style Council’s debut EP – I was buoyed along on the certainty that I was on to something and that my opinion of the latest earnest band that was SO DIFFERENT FROM ALL THAT CAME BEFORE was a thing to behold. That my opinion about this important new album of important new songs was, in and of itself, important.

I was a bit full of myself. Didn’t know it at the time, of course.

Today I have the advantage of time under my belt. It is truly the main advantage of getting old, sitting out there to the side of all the disadvantages of getting old: with years you have the perspective to see that there really is nothing new under the sun. That each generation produces its new singers and songwriters, and that each generation of listeners fastens their hopes and dreams and heart’s desire on their own, and that each new generation of critics thinks that the words they write as they struggle to quantify the music they hear are the BEST words and the ONLY words and the NEW words. Every generation experiences the experience freshly.

But as we get older, we know, quietly, that we’ve seen it all before. There is nothing new under the sun. Your troubadour learned from mine, and he learned from the guy who came before him, and so forth.

(As I write this, I am sure that there must have been someone before me who wrote something remarkably similar. Still it is my burden to play the part of the old writer who has seen it all before in this scenario, and so, let me get on with it).

And so it is with a small trepidation that I have to make a confession: I like the new Phillip Phillips album. I hope that won’t kill his career, because, of course, I am not cool enough, or hip any more (was I ever, really?). And of course,  I have discovered that the young critic for the Rolling Stone did not like the album, which does not surprise me. I discovered a long time ago, that the level of popularity with which a new star is invested will lead to higher and higher levels of scorn by the established anti-establishment critical tear-down machine.

Phillip Phillips is, of course, cursed by the popularity of American Idol. Having won the contest, he is universally derided by hipsters, because his natural talent, his exuberance, and his songwriting skill is not quite ironic enough. Sure they like him, but they will tell you that they like him  because he sounds like Dave Mathews or Maroon Five, or Mumford and Sons, and therefore is not original, and therefore too accessible, too commercial and too, too unworthy of their likes, even on Facebook.

No, his popularity must make him an object of scorn until he proves himself worthy by taking off in a different, unexpected direction, getting arrested, or being found  in the company of a skanky starlet on Skid Row. Then, he’ll have cred.

Meanwhile, I like his new album. Rolling Stone  — which is probably not hip anymore either — hates it for his not being the first singer songwriter they’ve heard. Phillip Phillips is not needed when you have Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz, goes the argument. Someone could also argue that if you have Bob Dylan, James Taylor, and Nick Cave, you don’t need Dave or Jason either. But that someone won’t be me, because I have some perspective. You should get you some. It’s good stuff – as is the Phillip Phillips album.


Author: nickpattersonfreelance

I'm a professional reporter, writer, editor, teacher, storyteller. A former travel and features editor for Southern Living, I started Velleity because people keep offering me travel stuff and you may as well benefit from it.

One thought on “One Pure Thought”

  1. I too enjoy the new CD (album) by Phillip Phillips. I wondered why since I am now beginning my sixth decade of life. I decided not to critique myself but just realize I have the age on me to decide that if I like something it doesn’t really matter what someone else thinks. Great article Nick.

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