Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the Meaning of Life by Steven Hyden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Here we are, again, with the nights growing longer, the weather slowly turning cool. Summer is wrapping up, fading into yet another memory fated to grow increasingly smudgy until it finally disappears with the ponderer. I know of no better way to stave off the seasonal melancholy than to pick up and read yet another cheeky meditation on the earth-shaking significance of rock 'n' roll music -- and Steven Hyden's Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About The Meaning Of Life more than qualifies.
Hyden's shtick is of a piece with Steve Almond, Carl Wilson, Chuck Klosterman, Andrew Beaujon and many, many others. As with the aforementioned, Hyden free-wheel riffs off the flotsam and ephemera of pop culture at large, spinning narrative significance into not just the rivalries (perceived or real) under examination, but within the larger sea of noise that surrounds us all, whether from forgotten TV shows or the back alleys of the internet.
The most magisterial of these meditations is chapter 9: Competing With Yourself and Losing: Roger Waters vs. The Rest of Pink Floyd in which Hyden manages to tie together such seemingly disparate pop-cult strands as Waters' contentious history with Pink Floyd and the fans, the Jay-Conan folderol over the "legacy" of the Tonight Show, and the 1987 NFL players' strike -- all to settle the question, "What is, or isn't, a rock group?"
There were still 116 pages left in the book after this tour de force. And though I had no difficulty reading to the book's conclusion, much of the momentum was lost after Chapter 9. Some of that was my own generational baggage (Biggie vs. Tupac = whatevs (and how sad is that?)). And some of that is just the nature of the beast -- even Almond and Klosterman struggle in the back stretch.
Regardless, for the low cost of a signature CD you, too, can enjoy hours of entertaining "cultural criticism, personal anecdote and music history" (book-flap) -- surely the best way to savor the fading glow of the evening's bottle of wine, and the season's close.
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