Breaking News: Pitchfork Written by Actual Human Beings

08/15/2011 12:10 PM |


In a bold and, to be fair, uncharacteristically self-congratulatory move, Pitchfork is taking a break this week to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the site. What exactly this will entail is still somewhat unclear, with new content being rolled out daily, but to kick things off this morning, they ran a feature in which 15 writers chose a song from a specific year, and then wrote about it not in terms of what it meant in the grand scheme of indie rock or popular music but what it meant to them, personally, as human beings who, like the rest of us, experience art and presumably life, through the prism of their own experiences and emotions and not, say, on a scale of 1-10, to the nearest 10th of a point.

It’s a refreshing change of pace for the site, given the degree to which, despite employing a handful of the best music writers currently working, you’re far, far more likely to hear someone say, “Pitchfork gave the new so-and-so record a 9.2, so it must be a big deal” than “Amanda Petrusich gave the new so-and-so record a 9.2, and I find that I generally agree with her, or have at least learned enough about the ways in which I generally disagree with her that I have a good idea how I will feel about it.” And speaking of Amanda Petrusich (the only female writer who took part, as pointed out to me by Lauren Beck earlier), she offered her take on No Age’s “Eraser” from 2008, which contains one of the best paragraphs you will read today, especially if you have ever earned a living writing about records, but even—see how this works?—if you haven’t.

In 2008, I missed wanting things— music, in particular. I missed the ecstasy of acquisition (in 1993, it took me seven weeks to sniff out a copy of Dinosaur Jr.’s Where You Been, and I spent the next seven memorizing every last crooked riff). I missed making literal investments in music, funneling all the time and cash and heart I could manage into the hunt. I had free CDs and illegally attained mp3s and lawfully purchased LPs, but unless I was being paid to render my opinion, I engaged with everything for six minutes and moved on. Listening to records felt like a cruel and absurd post-modern experiment in which discussion eclipsed everything else: Art was measured only by the amount of chatter it incited, and there was pressure to reference it all just to prove you were paying attention. I was underinvested and overwhelmed. I was trying my hardest to re-learn how to be a fan.

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