Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why I Can't Take Lefsetz Seriously

I only tend to read Bob Lefsetz's blog once or twice a month these days. I used to get a kick out of him, but somewhere along the way I just got tired of his schtick; tired of his endless tirades; tired of his posts which were 50% or more IN CAPS SO YOU COULD TELL HE WAS REALLY, REALLY SERIOUS AND ANGRY; tired of him endlessly bitching about how there's no good new music, and that the only good music was apparently made in the 60's.

Anyway, I scrolled through my RSS reader today and noticed he had a post about R.E.M., who I'm seeing tomorrow night at the Garden in New York. So I checked it out. And, sadly, he convinced me all over again to stop reading his blog. Bob's got his facts completely wrong, yet still talks like he knows everything about everything.

Here's a few nuggets of Bob's wisdom:
Now a bunch of the band’s fans are bitching that R.E.M. isn’t playing enough oldies on this tour. I’m with them.
Umm, Bob, who exactly are these "fans" you've been talking to?

If you were to do a quick Google search, you'd find this site listing all of R.E.M.'s setlists over the years, including this year's shows. Taking a look at the band's show in your neck of the woods (Hollywood Bowl), the band played the followings songs, among others:

"Circus Envy" (from 1994's Monster)
"Drive" (from 1992's Automatic for the People)
"Electrolite" (from 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi)
"Fall on Me" (from 1986's Life's Rich Pageant)
"Ignoreland" (from Automatic)
"Let Me In" (from Monster)
"Losing My Religion" (from 1991's Out of Time)
"Man on the Moon" (from Automatic)
"Pretty Persuasion" (from 1984's Reckoning)
"Sitting Still" (from 1983's Murmur)
"The One I Love" (from 1987's Document)
"What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" (from Monster)

That's nearly half of the show from 1996 or earlier (12 of 25 songs; I'm not counting "Happy Birthday"), with the majority of the rest being from Accelerate, which they are, after all, touring to support.

Then, if you look at the the band's other shows on this tour, it becomes even clearer that you don't have a clue what you're talking about. Other shows have included:

"7 Chinese Bros." (from Reckoning)
"Auctioneer (Another Engine)" (from 1985's Fables of the Reconstruction)
"Begin the Begin" (from Life's Rich Pageant)
"Cuyahoga" (from Life's Rich Pageant)
"Disturbance At The Heron House" (from Document)
"(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" (from Reckoning)
"Driver 8" (from Fables)
"Finest Worksong" (from Document)
"Harborcoat" (from Reckoning)
"Little America" (from Reckoning)
"Maps And Legends" (from Fables)
"Orange Crush" (from 1988's Green)
"Second Guessing" (from Reckoning)
"Shaking Through" (from Murmur)
"So. Central Rain" (from Reckoning)
"These Days" (from Life's Rich Pageant)
"Welcome To The Occupation" (from Document)
"West of the Fields" (from Murmur)
"Wolves, Lower" (from 1982's Chronic Town EP)

Now I'm no R.E.M. expert - I had to look just about all of these up on Wikipedia to double-check the albums - but I'm fairly confident saying that that's a shit-load of "oldies", Bob.

Here's another Bob quote:
Play all of "Out Of Time" or "Automatic For The People" and I’m there (I know, you want to hear "Document", but this isn’t a test of my hipness…) But I don’t want to pay an exorbitant price to sit through your new album so you can try to convince me you’re not a has-been, that you still matter. I’LL make that decision…
Well, Bob, you just contradicted yourself. First you condemned the band because they were angering certain unnamed, likely non-existent "fans" because they're not playing enough "oldies". Then you turn around and say that you don't care about the "oldies", but only want to hear songs from the band's two best-selling albums. Which one is it?

Also, I hate to break it to you, but the band released a greatest hits album in 2003, and their tour in support of that release featured a ton of songs throughout the band's career, including Automatic. (Admittedly, the band didn't play much off of Out of Time.)

And one more:
I really don’t get it, why these bands are still living in the nineties. They’re like bookstore owners, convinced electronic readers will never conquer print. Acts hole themselves up in studios for six months or a year, polish these turds, and think we want complete albums. WE DON’T! Certainly not R.E.M.’s overhyped new collection. They appeared everywhere, even SXSW, and they’ve only sold 275,000 copies… That’s piss poor. I think they were swinging for the fences so Warner Brothers would write them another big check, but that was a fallacious concept. Don’t they realize, money is now made on the ROAD?
Yes, Bob, you're right - 275,000 copies is nowhere near what R.E.M. sold in their peak years. But as you yourself constantly point out, almost no one is selling a big number of records these days.

And what exactly is your point, anyway? The band made an album that has garnered almost universal good reviews. Plus, as you've said, they've been tireless in support of the album. So why exactly is it R.E.M.'s fault if they have a good album which they work their asses off to support, but only sell 275,000 albums? What would you prefer them to have done? Continue releasing uninspired albums that even 2/3 of the band admit to not liking? Simply walk away?

I just don't see what your point is here, Bob. In fact, it seems pretty clear that all you care about is bitching, moaning and putting down artists solely for the purpose of making yourself feel important. You've done it before (see the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah situation from a couple years back), and I'm sure you'll keep on doing it.

Thankfully, though, I'm done reading it.


At 6:40 PM, Blogger kat said...

Have a great time at the REM show tonight. They are excellent live.

Otherwise, just passing through. I was randomly googling one of my all time favorite quotes ("Baby, you've got a stew goin'") and hit your blog. So you've got good taste!

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Sal C said...

Thank you for taking the time to articulate all the ways Lefsetz is an idiot so I don't have to. You have saved me much valuable time.
I really enjoyed the REM show in Philly. They did a lot of good songs I had all but forgotten about and it was an almost even split (over 27 songs) between the 80's, 90's, and 00's.


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