U2 to the Rescue

"The only way to win an argument on the Internet is to not enter it in the first place."

~Jaws IV

When I was seventeen, I was stupid.

I'm stupid today, too, but at least I'm wise enough to understand I'm stupid. Hence a brilliant quote from Mark Twain: Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty. That's pretty much where I'm at. I used to know everything; now I know nothing. But I'm aware I know nothing, which makes me... smart-ish?

What has me waxing nostalgic about my arrogance of yesteryear is one of those posts you see on Facebook: "If both Kanye and Nickelback were drowning and you could only save one, what kind of sandwich would you make?" It's amusing, because both have done worse damage to music than earthquakes have to Haitian infrastructure.

Oddly enough, both Kanye and Nickelback have their supporters. Just like Donald Trump. I didn't know who these people were until I had the "pleasure" of bumping into one on the aforementioned Facebook post.

A tween full of passion and air, she started calling Kanye a "genius," which is a far cry from what legendary producer Bob Ezrin called him: "Idiot." Of course, music is about preference. It's about how you respond to what you're hearing. So if you want to say "I like Kanye," that's fine. But when you transition into "Kanye is a genius," that's where you move outside the realm of opinion.

We went at it a little bit, and while she didn't really have any salient points to make, "OMG, KANYE RULEZ!" was a staple of her nonsense. Somewhere along the way, it was decided I must be a "typical racist," because that's how Facebook arguments go. Don't agree with someone? Try to discredit them with a label!

Since race hadn't been a talking point of mine, I have to assume she was using the term in a manner described by Jerry Seinfeld when discussing college students: "They just want to use these words. 'That's racist, that's sexist, that's prejudice.' They don't even know what they're talking about."

The girl throwing shade my way certainly didn't.

After that delightfully silly moment, "He likes U2" was posted, with me being the "he" being referenced.

It's a true statement. I do enjoy me some U2, and they're listed on Facebook page under my "likes."

Therein ended the discussion/argument/disagreement. The discussion devolved from "KANYE!!1!1!" to, "Oh, you like DAD ROCK" "Stuck in the 1980s, huh?" and so on. That's when I walked away from it all. You can't explain reason to a wall, and response to art says more about the responder than the art.

But where I may have stopped participating in the back-and-forth, I didn't forget the idiocy.

(Which is why I'm writing this piece.)

If you really want to put Kanye up against U2, that's fine. Line up those who have expressed fondness for or worked with U2: Bruce Springsteen. Miles Davis. Joey Ramone. Peter Gabriel. Frank Sinatra. Lars Ulrich. Johnny Cash. Willie Nelson. Mick Jagger. Alicia Keys. B.B. King. Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam. Public Enemy. Rage Against the Machine. Green Day.

Musical powerhouses. Diverse, musical powerhouses.

Try as you might, you won't find a similar list of talented folk lining up to compliment Kanye.

If your best insult is, "OMG, DAD ROCK," then you've already lost.

Art is eternal. Is the Mona Lisa not worth looking at because it's "OMG SO OLD?"

Great music is timeless.

It's why we still listen to pop from the 1980s, funk from the 1970s, jazz from the 1930s and Classical music from the turn of two centuries ago.

U2 is still releasing albums. Are they as iconic as The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby? To my ears, no. That's my personal take. But the new albums still have incredible gems hidden within. Listen to the title track of No Line on the Horizon. That's "Dad rock?" Is Vertigo? It wasn't in 2004, when it swamped the airwaves of both TV and radio, enticing people of all ages.

Music is about emotion.

Sure, Kanye might be able to fire up people on an ecstasy high, but can he reach their soul? I've yet to hear anything by him that comes close.

I get that youth are supposed to rebel against the past. It's what youth does. But there is a difference between finding your own path in a focused manner, and anarchy. Lumping everything under a banner of "old" discounts art as a whole, and severely cripples your own development.

On the reverse side: it is never a good idea to be trapped in the past. It's dangerous to champion something from your youth simply because you cannot live without nostalgia. I love discovering new music, and like current bands like OK GO and Neon Trees. Hell, I've even succumbed to the allure of Taylor Swift, and was happy when Saturday Night Live addressed my malady with the "Swiftamine" commercial.

Music should not be defined by age. The past has its diamonds, as does the present, as will the future. All you do by limiting yourself is, well, limiting yourself. Exposure to art should be celebrated, not viewed while wearing blinders.

It's OK to be stupid at 17. I was stupid. But I got older, and so will everyone currently young.

And I tell you what, young ones: If 35-years into his career Kanye can sell out arenas five nights in a row in multiple cities (eight in New York) like U2 just did 35-years into their career? Then I will re-examine my position on Kanye sucking.

But I don't see that happening.

more nonsense at www.nathantimmel.com