I’m reading Simon Reynolds’ “Retromania”, the thrust of which seems to be that modern music has effectively ground to a halt because we’re all so enamoured with the past. I have only just started the book so can’t expand on the theory, but it sounds about right: music from the past has never been so available, old bands don’t just tour, they tour BIG (with ticket prices to match). Where are the Rolling Stones of tomorrow? Coldplay? Snow Patrol? Something from a talent show? Don’t make me laugh. No, people are going to keep consuming the Rolling Stones or Nirvana or The Beatles or Elliott Smith or Jeff Buckley because these artists’ record companies/estates are still making material available, whether the performers in question are alive or not. Heavens, Pearl Jam are still touring and have released literally countless albums to catalogue their output. What the future will make of all this is anyone’s guess but even in dinosaur form, Pearl Jam have no obvious equal in the nonsense I hear today.
To further emphasise the point, in the last three days I have listened to four albums: Frank Zappa’s Sheik Yerbouti; Grateful Dead’s Dave’s Picks Volume 1 (live at the Richmond Mosque, May 1977); John Coltrane’s a Love Supreme (the greatest music ever committed to record, by a considerable distance); Grateful Dead Dick’s Picks Volume 29 (also from May 77, this time the Fox Theatre in Atlanta).
I can rely on these and staples like them because they’re so very good. And all of these albums were released in the form I have them within the last few years. Dave’s Picks is a new Grateful Dead archive initiative, with archivist David Lemieux following on from Dick Latvala’s series as a means of getting live material ‘out there’ in a good quality format. The Dead’s archive is massive, they’ll keep doing this indefinitely, and people will keep buying indefinitely. Why? Because each live performance really was unique, they played different songs in different ways and this variety and sustained excellence ensures that fans keep coming back. Rhino, a specialist in back catalogues, handles the commercial side of things (they also, I think, did the recent Smiths Retrospective, on which Morrissey can be heard singing about exactly this phenomenon on Paint a Vulgar Picture).
The Zappa back catalogue was reissued in (I think) the 90s by Rykodisc. Coltrane’s work has been reissued over and over – my version has a live performance disc 2 to ‘add value’ (it does!).
And so, like Jay Gatsby, no matter how we might try to look forward, where music is concerned we are (by now) unable to escape the past. This is generalising – of course it is – but the phenomenon (such that it is) must be common enough or Reynolds wouldn’t have been able to get a big (and supposedly very good) book out of it.
BUT! Football is different. Football always moves forward, and no two seasons are the same. Players age, are moved on, sold, new players come in, youth players, incoming transfers: this renewal means it’s always interesting, there’s always something new around the corner and no matter how much you think you’ve seen, you’ve never, ever seen it all (e.g. Clint Dempsey v Juventus). It’s why we keep coming back. Whatever malaise may be affecting the music industry can’t touch football – we may occasionally long for more innocent times, but not to the point where we cease to be very interested in the present, and especially not the future, which is really what it’s all about: is Dempsey leaving? What will happen to Dembele? How talented is Frei? We’ll only know the answer to these questions with time. Multiply these factors several times over to cover intrigue at various rivals, big clubs and others and you have a permanent stream of very unpredictable and sometimes interseting *something*. Things never stand still in football. So yes, we keep coming back.
All this said, the last time Fulham even drew at Goodison Park was 1959. Today we lost 4-0. (shrug).