March 14, 2005

And Now, a Musical Interlude

THERE IS NOTHING, we submit, as annoying as the self-important musician. As evidence of this admittedly broad generalization, we present to readers this interview in The Observer with someone called Bjork.

Bjork, as we understand it, is an Icelandic musician who does not much care for American culture, although she bravely stomachs spending most of the year in New York. This would be run-of-the-mill for most musicians of the hate-America stripe, except Bjork is particularly ineffective in getting her message across. Consider this quote from The Observer's interview:

"A lot of the time I get obsessed by little nerdy things in my corner that no one else is interested in. I have that nerd factor in my character. So for once I was interested in something everyone else was interested in. I'm not going to talk like I know about politics, because I'm a total amateur, but maybe I can be a spokesperson for people who aren't normally interested in politics.'

Her last album Medulla was certainly her most political - but in a unique way. She came up with an a capella album featuring only human voices: yodelling, beatbox, Icelandic choral music. It was, she says, a way to counter 'stupid American racism and patriotism' after 9/11. 'I was saying, "What about the human soul? What happened before we got involved in problematic things like civilisation and religion and nationhood?"'

Um, mankind discovered fire. But it was very hot and scary and imperialist in nature, so it took a while before enterprising people figured out how to harness it, which led to ... well, we digress. We don't want to lose sight of the main point, which is that a rational human being in today's world actually concluded an obscure yodelling record would somehow impact the cultural force flowing from a nation of 300 million people. Why The Observer's scribe missed this, we don't exactly know, but we find it unfortunate the scribe felt compelled to write a fawning, obsequious mass of drivel instead of a news article.

But one does not expect much in the way of critical analysis from this musician. After all, earlier in the story, The Observer writes, "She would never wear jeans and a T-shirt, she says, because they are 'a symbol of white American imperialism, like drinking Coca-Cola'."

Gee, and here we thought Bjork would mention the U.S. Naval Air Station at Keflavik. Still, as we said, one cannot take such a person seriously, particularly when her views are so ... downright childish.

BUT MOVING ON. In other Musician Antics news, we note that the bus driver for the Dave Matthews Band has pleaded guilty to dumping a septic tank full of human waste off a Chicago bridge. Such an act might have gone unnoticed, except the waste was dumped onto a passing tour barge with 100 passengers.

We have to admit we feel rather sorry for the band, whch had nothing to do with the incident in question but now will almost certainly have to pay for it. We approve of their donations to the Friends of the Chicago River and the Chicago Park District in amends. But now that the driver has pleaded guilty, we would also like to see restitution paid to the poor bastards on the scenic tour. We think $5,000 would be sufficient remedy for each passenger subject to the unfortunate incident.

(via Tim Blair and Simon From Jersey)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 14, 2005 08:32 PM | TrackBack

Umm, Ben, isn't the base a Keflavik a US Air Force base? There may be some Navy aircraft based there (like P3 Orions), but I'm pretty sure its an Air Force base.

(Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm just a nitpicking Yankee....but what else do I have to do until Ice Out on Winnipesaukee?)

Posted by: DCE at March 15, 2005 07:20 AM

Bjork...god what a freak that woman is...the person who told her she could sing has a great deal to answer for.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at March 15, 2005 02:02 PM

I love her music. I don't care what you all say! Not so much lately, but it's her earlier stuff, the dance music. Damn. You try to listen to that stuff and not groove around your apartment, in your own music video.

Posted by: red at March 15, 2005 03:50 PM

Hi everybody,

I'll address the points in separate notes, as it's easier that way.

Dale: both services probably have operations at Keflavik -- I just knew the Navy did, so I picked that one. But maybe the USAF uses the Naval Air Station. I don't know.

Andrew: I do agree she seems a bit odd. Really odd. The type who doesn't march to the beat of a different drummer, but has her own drum.

Sheila: I don't doubt that her music is quite good, at least the earlier not-too-whacked-out stuff. And I'd listen to it, if I happened to listen to Bjork. Still, her views on everything else are apparently so whacked out that in this entry, I just wrote her views off, like a ten-cent variance on a $37 million general ledger.

I've found that's the best way for me to deal with the few artists, musicians, actors and other creative types whose views are so out there they don't make any sense to me. That way I can enjoy their work without getting into all those other thorny issues. The only exception to that rule comes with writers, where their ideas about such things can't be separated from their work.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at March 15, 2005 04:09 PM

The chick has always been wacked, Ben. Always. She's been around forever, and she has ALWAYS been wacked. This is nothing new, sorry to break it to you.

Posted by: red at March 15, 2005 04:11 PM

I've never found her to be articulate or interesting to listen to WHEN SHE SPEAKS. I'm just giving my own 2 cents here, and that is that her dance music rocks.

You can all sit and judge her for her stupid political views - that's your prerogative. I don't do that, and that's my prerogative.

Posted by: red at March 15, 2005 04:14 PM

I don't have any issues with the music. If I vetted what I listen by its composer's thinking on X, Y or Z, I'd probably be stuck listening to Bach all day!

Since her dance music rocks, would you have any suggestions regarding particularly good tracks? It'd be interesting to listen to it.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at March 15, 2005 04:37 PM

I mean, obviously the chick is a wack-job to the nth degree. But she always has been. Member her swan dress that she wore to the Oscars? She's a nutter. Completely out of touch with reality. But sue me, I truly think she's an artist. Her albums each have a different sound, and personality - I like her stuff a lot.

My favorite dance-track is "Big Time Sensuality" on her album called Debut. It was THE dance track when I was in college - and there was one summer when you literally could not turn on the radio without hearing it.

I actually made a tape where I put "Big Time Sensuality" on it over and over and over, and that was my exercise tape. As long as that song played, I could keep going.

Posted by: red at March 15, 2005 04:46 PM

Sheila -- it sounds like a great song. I'll make sure to check it out. God knows I could use a good song to exercise to!

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at March 15, 2005 05:09 PM


Remember, first and foremost, that Bjork's first language is Icelandic and not English. She always seems a little aloof when speaking because of this and I wonder if her comments might have had more nuances if put across in her native tongue. Disagree with the general nature of her opinions, sure, but I can say with a bit of certainty (based on her breadth of knowledge and her sophistication in her music and writing) that she is not just another Alec Baldwin. To categorize her as just one in a long line of stupid celebrities, I believe, is unfair.

Also, I have played you Bjork before. We were seniors in high school, back in 1993. Her big hit was Human Behaviour. It had that trippy video with all the bears and huge insects...Anyone? Bueller? Something D-O-O Economics???? Her best record is Post. Get it, I think it's sophistication will surprise you.

Posted by: simon from jersey at March 16, 2005 09:28 AM

Ah yes. Human Behavior. Another great song.

Posted by: red at March 16, 2005 11:00 AM