In the New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones wonders, “Why did so many white rock bands retreat from the ecstatic singing and intense, voicelike guitar tones of the blues, the heavy African downbeat, and the elaborate showmanship that characterized black music of the mid-twentieth century?” And:
How did rhythm come to be discounted in an art form that was born as a celebration of rhythm’s possibilities? Where is the impulse to reach out to an audience—to entertain? I can imagine James Brown writing dull material. I can even imagine the Meters wearing out their fans by playing a little too long. But I can’t imagine any of these musicians retreating inward and settling for the lassitude and monotony that so many indie acts seem to confuse with authenticity and significance.
Is that what it is? Is that why I’m getting so bored with indie rock? Because it has no soul? And here I’ve been blaming it all on the (far too) widespread love of Talking Heads…
MP3: Frere-Jones talks about the loss of miscegenation in American music, with clips of relevant songs.