You could say I appreciate a good song. I’m pretty into Robert Zimmerman’s work. Sometimes I listen to this band called the Grateful Dead. I love music, but even more than that, I love the study of music. And movies. And plays. And television. I’ve always believed that to love something is to dissect it. There’s no glory in appreciating an album without picking it apart. I want to learn every bit of backstory, understand every hidden message, rank every track. When
it comes to pop culture, overanalyzing is my love language.
I’ve spent far more than my share of hours analyzing the great musicians of my time. But just as important is the study of artists who are…let’s just say, not great. Lately, my roommate and I have undertaken a massive scholarly project that I trust will be worth our while: listening to every Kid Rock album in chronological order.
My affinity (if you could call it that) for Kid Rock has been documented on here once our twice. He’s the rare artist who is so unbelievably bad that he ends up coming full circle and being great. For two college students who are obsessed with writing, lines like “I like to watch you shoot your guns/And I like the way you love having fun” provide something of a masterclass in how not to write lyrics. We’ve been making fun of the song “Johnny Cash” for years, but we realized that neither of us knew how he evolved from a rapper into a country icon. And so began a two-week binge of one of America’s strangest artists.
This experiment has proved an embarrassment of riches. From discovering Kid Rock’s flat top haircut from 1990 (I’m begging you, google it) to songs like “Desperate-Rado” and other titles that I can’t print here, these past couple of weeks have provided nonstop laughter. When all is said and done, we’ll be strong contenders for the title of “Best Kid Rock Scholars in the Greater Boston Area.” And I enjoy it every bit as much as geeking out over fantastic Bob Dylan lyrics. Whenever I spend another late night analyzing Kid Rock lyrics, or researching Eddie Money’s cover of “Drops of Jupiter,” I’m reminded of a great Oscar Wilde quote. “We should treat all the trivial things of life seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality.” More than anything else, that sentence encapsulates my approach to pop culture. Great art will always be there, and you don’t need me to tell you why it’s great. But studying this other nonsense is an equally important task, and until someone else wants to take it up, it’s a job I’m happy to do.
Student, Writer, Reader of the Slush Pile