It seems that the quasi-feud slow-broiling over the past week concerning Fiery Furnace's Matt Friedberger dissing Radiohead in a blog interview, and then Radiohead and Beck in a blog post, have twisted a lot of panties.
Pitchfork appeared hostile, NME's commenters cried bloody murder (“this guy's obviously a jealous, miserablist indie dickhead”). Even Furnace fans seem concerned: “Do you need help writing press releases?”
Why so serious?
For those who only use internet to check their Gchat, let us explain.
Radiohead wrote a song about the last living World War I veteran (Harry Patch), who Friedberger confused with the 20th century microtonal composer (Harry Partch). Friedberger then said this, about Radiohead, to the Brit site Spinner:
'Oh, please listen to our new song about Harry Patch.' Fuck you! You brand yourself by brazenly and arbitrarily associating yourself with things that you know people consider cool. That is bogus. That's a put-on. That's a branding technique and Radiohead have their brand that they're popular and intelligent. So they have a song about Harry Patch.
Matt would have much preferred to insult Beck but he is too afraid of Scientologists.
Then Beck released a song for free download called “Harry Partch.” No word from the skinny man from LA otherwise.
We jammed Kid A and Odelay as hard as the next awkward teenager. We're just happy someone's running circles around the language of music blog journalism, even when the circles don't always connect. Friedberger's snobby series of Myspace blogs addressing, if not explaining, his side of the story, end up arguing for a “thought experiment rock” in the dusty language of social theoreticians from the 1930s, under a seven-layer cake of irony that's apparently becoming an archaic form of prose, too. Wait for the part where he insults pretty much everyone.
Somebody (he didn't want his name mentioned (though he did want his new, great band, Circle of Buzzards plugged)) told me that Beck posted a song about Harry Partch on the internet.
A virtual response, therefore.
But doesn't this imaginary feud demand imaginary responses? And therefore, imaginary response songs? Shouldn't we step–isn't now the time to ascend–from the merely virtual to the boldly imaginary?
When I made up my imaginary Radiohead song about Harry Partch (in full knowledge that there was no Radiohead song about Harry Partch, regardless of whatever Dave H. said to people before he talked to me (I love you, Dave)), and was sharply critical of it, I certainly didn't imagine my endeavors in this regard would engender such a response. How tremendously for the best it has all turned out to be.
How fruitful an imaginary song proved in practice! So as we all move forward, shouldn't we admit that posting songs on the internet–being virtual, in other words–is so last year? So to speak. Isn't that what every music management company intern from Northeastern recommends that bands do? That can't be right.
I propose nothing less than the liberation and use of only our imaginations for the direct purpose of, not just pop music writing, but pop music production and distribution. And subsequent, now imaginary, blog discussion.
Won't these imaginary songs sound sweet? I imagine they will. Think how adaptable to changing tastes and fashions they'll be. And how many billable hours of intellectual property disputes they'll cause! This thought-experiment rock is no doubt the breakthrough the industry professionals have been waiting for.
The music industry has already gone to the imaginary model in many respects. Bands–at least smaller bands–only get to make imaginary livings. (To say nothing of bands that imagine they are playing rock music by pressing the space bar on a laptop and hitting a floor tom. I am saying nothing about that.) Of course many fans–and fans are always the most progressive element of the rock music community–have long since gone to the imaginary model. They must really be imagining things to admire the music acts they do.
Let's all follow their lead!