There is a scene in the movie “Clueless” where Travis Birkenstock makes a crack about how “The way I feel about The Rolling Stones is how my kids are going to feel about Nine Inch Nails.”
Travis’ keen observation flashed through my head this morning when I heard Metric’s “Gimme Sympathy” on The Current. And it’s really only keen in the way of thinking about the impact the bands of your time will have on you rather than the bands from a different generation. Not that I think NIN has had the same kind of impact on rock & roll that The Stones have. In fact, I’m inclined to dismiss NIN out of hand, because I’m not a fan.
Now that I’ve started this I’m not entirely sure I have a point, but I might find one along the way.
So in the seconds that it takes for thoughts to flutter through my brain I thought “I wonder if my niece’s generation will feel about Liz Phair’s ‘Exile in Guyville’ the same way I feel about Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue.'”
I do not have much affection for Mitchell’s “Blue.” In fact, most of my warm Mitchell feelings come from the use of “River” in that scene from “Almost Famous” when William Miller “introduces” Penny Lane to Russell Hammond. My feelings grew a little warmer after reading Kicking & Dreaming and how much Nancy Wilson adored Mitchell, so much so that as a teen Wilson went hitchhiking in search of Mitchell’s Canadian home.
Wilson is part of the reason my brain latched on to “Blue” in comparison to “Exile in Guyville.” That album seems to be very important to a certain demographic of women born during the late Baby Boom year to the very early GenX years.
The other part was Sonja, a fiercely-intelligent web developer I worked with 100 years ago. She was about the age I am now when she discovered that I had never heard of or listened to Joni Mitchell’s “Blue.” She howled in despair and outrage. Stunned that a musically-savvy woman like me was so ignorant to Mitchell and her importance. Because Sonja had recently introduced me to The New Pornographers, I followed her advice and dug into “Blue.”
It’s good. I dig it okay, I guess. I find Mitchell’s voice a little shrill. My appreciation is much more intellectual than emotional, in that I appreciate how this album was inspirational to a whole host of women who laid the path for women in rock & roll. But it doesn’t make my blood flow hot and fast through my veins. It didn’t open up my brain and my heart and make me stand up and say “HELL YES” like “Exile in Guyville” did (and still does).
And this morning as I listened to Emily Haines sing about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, I thought about how she managed to get a whole host of Minnesotans off their asses and made them dance at Rock the Garden a few weeks ago. I thought about how my niece is still talking about how amazing Metric is/was, and I wondered will Metric be the Liz Phair of her generation?