Friday, August 31, 2007

Non-Reunion Lament

Thurston Moore regrets not breaking up. . . or rather, he regrets not breaking up so Sonic Youth could reform years later for a pretty decent payday:
"The Pixies reunion was a real success, and Dinosaur Jr. seems like a big success, and both those bands play as good as they ever did. Mission Of Burma blew my mind when they came back. But a band like us never did break up. Which was to our own detriment. What would have happened if we did break up after [classic 1988 double album] Daydream Nation - or even after [1990's] Dirty - and had gotten back together two years ago? You'd be interviewing me at the Chateau Marmont as I'm waiting for my limousine. We probably would have made so much money. This was our biggest career faux-pas - not breaking up."
I don't know if he's serious, ironic, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, or (most likely) a combination, but I do know he's right. I've never been that big of a Sonic Youth fan, but I've always respected what they do, and they could have been like any one of many bands who've broken up and come back for their "triumphant" mega-tour. Unfortunately for music geeks such as myself, any former glory was most likely lost before whatever band in question disbanded. It doesn't matter the decade or the genre; this is an overarching phenomenon. All we're left with is overweight, balding shells of our former icons who either pander to their fans in an attempt to get the money they weren't able to manage in their heyday or whose earnestness, spontaneity, and onetime brilliance has unavoidably tarnished with age. Not to say that once obscure/now legendary bands shouldn't get the monetary rewards their relative obscurity has denied them, but will they be as good as they once were? Sure, they may be technically better musicians, and they may understand how to work a crowd, but it's not the proficiency or showmanship alone that draws us in; it's the feeling we get when we listen or watch. . . and a reunion concert or album cannot recapture that feeling in us; it can only replicate what we once felt.

Let's face it, every musician or band you love will either die or break up, for one reason or another.* Nothing will ever top the moment you first listened to that cassette of [Band X] your friend dubbed from the music collection of his older brother, or seeing [Musician Y] play the greatest set ever, before the drugs, ex-wives, and record labels took control, or popping a brand new CD into the car, listening to a band for the first time, and having to pull the car to the shoulder because it was the music that you wish you could write, but can't and are overwhelmed.

No reunion tour, no ten-years-later album with better production values and also-famous guest musicians will ever make you feel the way you felt when you became a fan in the first place. The music of the musicians we love may last forever, but the musicians themselves never will, and they'll never recapture what they once created.

*Except the Rolling Stones; they may get more craptacular with age, but I'll be damned if anything can actually kill those guys.

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