Of Kurt Cobain, T.S. Eliot and Our Viking Horde

So the Emmys snubbed True Blood and Alexander Skarsgard? Here’s what I have to say about that.

In 2003, Rolling Stone came out with a list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Who Rolling Stone lists as the 100 Greatest Guitarists must be comprehensive, it must be worthy, it must have clout right? Nope. It was a horrible list, full of biases and omissions.

As often case with things like lists, the old crowd got the biggest nods, Jimi Hendrix is number one…again…Now, not to knock Jimi, but EVERYONE always puts him as number one, it’s always either him or Jimmy Page. It’s the monopoly of the the Jimmies! It’s not that nothing better or more awesome ever came after them or made a huge impact, however the institutions in place ALWAYS hype their shadow whether or not it’s earned.

Then there was the serious WHAT THE FUCKS! What am I talking about? The placement of Eddie Van Halen. EVH is 70. Now, I may not be an EVH or Van Halen fan, but he is an influential and skilled guitarist and had tons of kids pick up the guitar because of him. Not only that, his style brought a whole new way of playing guitar to the mainstream and created a gazillion clones in the 80s. The other WTF? The inclusion of Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Ramone and Jack White in the Top 20. Say what? Good guitar players they are not! Influential? Yes. Greatest guitarists? NO. However, the WTF I’m most peeved about?

The omission of Slash.

What is behind this mystery?

What is behind this mystery?

That’s a funny story. The writer sent out the article to the editor. The editor asked ‘Where’s Slash?’ The writer said Shit! D’oh. But it was too late to include him…or another notable like Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.

You know why it seriously peeves me that Slash is omited? Listen to Sweet Child O’ Mine, November Rain or Estranged and tell me that Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Ramone or Jack White can do THAT. He is clearly a better guitar player. Sure Kurt Cobain is influential and I even enjoy Nirvana, but good guitar player he is not. Cool sound? Sure. Icon? Most definitely. Deserved? Questionable.

Slash is definitely a guy that deserves to be on that list as much as the Jimmies, Brian May, Joe Perry and others. Those guys are legends, but Slash is a legend in his own right and countless kids who are playing now owe something to Slash and Guns N’ Roses. Hell, the guy hailed by most guitar magazines as the Guitar God of the future, Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom lists Guns N’ Roses as one of the first bands that got him into rock. Guns N’ Roses lead him to other bands and influences that would later lead to him picking up the guitar.

Alexi Laiho, Guitar God of the Future

Alexi Laiho, Guitar God of the Future

So Slash was missing, he’s my favourite guitar player and so was Jerry Cantrell, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect how much I love their music and enjoy it. I like it and that’s what matters, not that some institution decided to like it just as much as I do.

Like it doesn’t matter that the Emmys snubbed True Blood because it’s a stuffy old institution that doesn’t have a lot of clout or relevance to what is really great on TV. It really doesn’t. It ignored Buffy for years. Friday Night Lights and Battlestar Galactica haven’t won anything of note in the big categories and you know what? They certainly deserve them.

People have done a lot of lists to define something as great, awesome, worthy. The best example of that is probably T.S. Eliot’s Canon and his school of New Criticism in critiquing literature. You’re all familiar with it even if you don’t know it. It’s why you have a massive anthology of literature to study in your English class. Every piece of literature you study in school up to around the 1900s is studied bascially because it’s in T.S. Eliot’s Canon. You study it the way you do because of T.S. Eliot’s New Critical thought.

Creator of New Criticism and the Canon

Creator of New Criticism and the Canon

What did this fancy list omit? Literature that was deemed to not be ironic or symbolic. Work by women because clearly they never wrote anything ironic or symbolic. We’ll include Elizabeth Barrett Browning because she’s good…but I mean, “Goblin Market” by Christina Rosetti is merely a work for children. What with a small girl being sprayed in the face with the juice of phallic fruit and pinched by a bunch of old men…clearly a work for small children. Work by minorities etc was omitted for the same reasons. It was only in more recent years that T. S. Eliot’s Canon has been revised to include such works.

How do I personally feel about the Emmys not nominating True Blood? It’s water off my back and to be frank, I can’t honestly say that I think it deserves a nomination for the show over all. Not when there are shows out there like Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights and hell, Lost, that were all better in their first season than True Blood. BSG and FNL are two shows that have never won in any of the major categories when they truly deserved it. True Blood was just much too spotty in the writing and had lots of consistency issues, like Sookie’s character for example. Unlike Fringe or Dollhouse that improved towards their season finale, True Blood went down in a big Crispy Bill. The first season was either a hit, a miss or mediocre at best. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I did. It’s a LOT of fun, but you can’t tell me that it holds up to a show like BSG or FNL in their first season. I do think that the second season is much better and does have potential.

The actors on the other hand? They deserved something. Maybe we’ll eventually find out who made the Top 20 or Top 10 in voting. But yes, they did deserve to be nominated, particularly Ryan Kwanten for Jason Stackhouse, Rutina Wesley for Tara Thorton and Nelsan Ellis for Lafayette Reynold. Those guys ACTED. Pure and simple. Alexander Skarsgard did too…but you can’t give an Emmy to a glorified extra in Season One. As for Anna Paquin, I still don’t think she deserved her Golden Globe because I don’t think she was given the material to warrent it as Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood. I think she’s a great actress, but I don’t think she was given the material to show case that with…so I felt that she won in spite of all that. I just honestly think that the supporting cast in True Blood was given so much to work with and that they were the ones more than any other that deserved noms.

The Glorified Extra

The Glorified Extra

Regardless of that, despite my distaste for lists, canons and definitions of what is regarded to be the best, I still have to say that I do feel that Alexander Skarsgard was robbed. We all knew that he wouldn’t get a nom for True Blood, but Generation Kill? You’ve gotta be kidding me. Especially when you include Kiefer Southerland in some lame WGA Strike show written to appease the fans that was regarded as a miniseries…seriously? This is like the Jimmies always making it to the top of any list. It’s an Old Boys’ club. It’s like the placement of EVH at 70, putting in Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Ramone and Jack White in the Top 20. It’s like omitting Slash.

Alex deserved a nom for Generation Kill and we all know it. He gave an amazing performance. What did Kiefer do exactly? It’s out of our hands…but not entirely.

Fick and Colbert in Generation Kill

Fick and Colbert in Generation Kill

Slash was part of a band called Guns N’ Roses. They released an album called Appetite for Destruction in 1987. It went on to be the highest selling debut of all time and has pushed around 10 million in the US alone and 28 to 30 million copies worldwide (It’s either GN’R or Boston, but I think GN’R for the next point coming up). This album tends to creep up into the Billboard Top 200 every now and then. It still makes the original five members about 1 to 3 million dollars per year or royalties. Not only that, it’s a magnum opus, an amazing album that captured the lives of 5 musicians in LA from 1984 to 1986/1987. It’s a classic and regarded as one of the best albums ever.

Appetite for Destruction

Appetite for Destruction

Did it get a Grammy come 1988? Nope. Come ’89 the committee was in regret…

It was released in 1987 with little knowledge or fanfare. By the time 1988 rolled around, only about 200, 000 copies had been sold. GN’R’s A&R man, Tom Zutaut was advised that the numbers were decent for a debut and it was time for the band to come home from touring and start work on the next album. But Tom Zutaut believed in the band and he believed in the music. The band had made a music video for Welcome to the Jungle but MTV wouldn’t play it because it was deemed too vulgar. Tom Zutaut called in a favour from the head honcho of GN’R’s label, David Geffen to use his pull and influence to get GN’R on MTV.

The best David Geffen could do was get Welcome to the Jungle played once at 4am in New York. Tom informed the guys and they gathered around a TV at 6am in LA and watched their five minutes of glory.

What happened?

People saw the video and started calling MTV to play it. So many people called that the switchboard blew up. (Blame Lil! Bad Lil, bad! Blowing up the MTV switchboard!) They got Welcome to the Jungle on heavy rotation. They made it so that MTV could not ignore Guns N’ Roses. They made it so that MTV had to play it. They broke Guns N’ Roses. Come September, Sweet Child O’ Mine made it to number one on Billboard.

Fans did that. Fans got that band heard. Fans got that bad recognition. Fans made that band legendary. Fans made their music transcend the five people who wrote the songs.

So…you wanna blow up a swtichboard?



~ by simba317 on July 18, 2009.

3 Responses to “Of Kurt Cobain, T.S. Eliot and Our Viking Horde”

  1. Welcome to the jungle babay!!! Your gonna die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Loved it Simba!

  2. While I agree with all of your points about GNR…and I did disagree with much of the Rolling Stones article – I am a huge Ramones fan – and as they changed the face of music in America…there was no Jimmy Ramone…his name was Johnny – and he was awesome. RIP Johnny.

    • Like I said…I’m not saying that he didn’t make good music or that he wasn’t influential…just that he isn’t up to par in a list that calls itself the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He just simply didn’t have the skill that others do. Hell, they didn’t put Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols in for a reason. He doesn’t play guitar that well. That doesn’t mean he didn’t make great songs. Just that he’s not as skilled.


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