Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation is Steven Hyden’s crunchy love song to the rise and fall of grunge music. It’s one part nostalgic remembrance, one part music criticism and one part cultural analysis. As somebody came of age in the nineties, the ten-part series has proved a pretty entertaining read. Here’s a sample from part one:
I spent a lot of time that year watching Paula Abdul sing one of my favorite songs, “Opposites Attract,” in a video that prominently featured a cartoon cat. How adorably red-cheeked and innocent is that? As far as I can tell, the video for “Opposites Attract” was not intended to be entertainment strictly for little kids. There was a very good chance that you’d see the video for “Unskinny Bop” immediately afterward. This gives you an idea of how, shall we say, unsophisticated we were as pop-music listeners back then. The video for “Opposites Attract” might not be “(How Much Is) That Doggie In The Window?” but like that cheerfully insipid, pre-rock ’n’ roll Patti Page hit of the early ’50s, it signaled that American culture desperately needed someone to wipe that stupid grin off of its face.
I’ve been reading it offline, so I’ve missed all the handy embedded videos which offer a welcome accompaniment to the articles.
Speaking of musical writing, I recently read a wonderful article (PDF) in The New Yorker about Keith Moon. Whether or not you have any interest in drumming, the Rolling Stones or The New Yorker, it’s an excellent piece of non-fiction writing.
The writer, James Wood, makes reference in the piece to isolated recordings of Keith Moon’s peculiar style of drumming. Here’s an example. The song will be familiar to CSI viewers: