Not so disposable

From Nick Hornby’s marvelous Songbook, in which he writes about pop songs he loves:

“That’s the thing that puzzles me about those who feel that contemporary pop (and I use the word to encompass soul, reggae, country, rock — anything and everything that might be regarded as trashy) is beneath them, or behind them, or beyond them — some proposition denoting distance, anyway: does this mean that you never hear, or at least never enjoy, new songs, that everything you whistle or hum was written years, decades, centuries ago? Do you really deny yourselves the pleasure of mastering a tune (a pleasure, incidentally, that your generation is perhaps the first in the history of mankind to forego) because you are afraid it might make you look as if you don’t know who Harold Bloom is?”

“…a three-minute pop song can only withhold its mysteries for so long, after all. So, yes, it’s disposable, as if that makes any difference to anyone’s perceptions of the value of pop music. But then, shouldn’t we be sick of the ‘Moonlight Sonata’ by now? Or Christina’s World? Or The Importance of Being Earnest? They’re empty! Nothing left! We’ve sucked ‘em dry! That’s what gets me: the very people who are snotty about the disposability of pop will go over and over again to see Lady Bracknell say ‘A handbag?’ in a funny voice. They don’t think that joke’s exhausted itself? Maybe disposability is a sign of pop music’s maturity, a recognition of its own limitations, rather than the converse.”

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