This is by no means a black-and-white issue. I have no anti-music sentiments and certainly don't blame the world's ills on pop culture alone. Often it's a matter of the chicken and the egg. Which came first, the bad kids or the bad music? (And just for the record--I'm not an old curmudgeon, but a 19-year-old sometimes pop-culture consumer.)

Certainly, parents are to blame for the lax morality in youth culture. (Yes, I know "morality" is a dirty word amongst the liberal, but it's valid here.) Many parents are lazy and self-concerned. Kids feel alienated, unloved. Bad stuff happens. This does not invalidate the evidence that certain vulgar, violent lyrics influence kids (and adults), often for the worse. The statistics are in the fashion, my man. Music has the ability to make us think, speak, act, and dress in a certain way. Can you say Beatle boots? How about mop tops or greasers? See The Wedding Singer for a refresher in music as fashion. Same with mostly nonviolent pop like, say, The Smiths (well, sometimes there's some vehement, mildly masochistic stuff in there, but you know). Who can be happy listening to "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me?" That song has the undeniable power to depress.

Not to imply that being depressed and being moved to kill are equivalent, but why is advertising and music such big business? Because we listen and we act. We buy and we consume. We lap it up, whether it be Goth crap or Celine Dion (which in either case is tragic). We are affected.

Gap marketers are certainly aware of the power of trend, music, and image to influence us to consume the product. So stop denying Manson his shock power. His lewd shtick does work on the minds of impressionable (i.e., normal) kids. Unfortunately.

Jessica Parker
Via e-mail

Would it kill you--would it absolutely put you and this rag out--if you went one goddamned week without mentioning Marilyn Manson? Oh, I do agree with the gist of your article concerning how asinine it is when law figures, teachers, and parents blame Manson, when there is clearly something a hell of a lot worse at the root of their children's problems (in the instances of children who've actually been violent). Listening to Marilyn Manson makes no one a gang member, or Satanist, or any of that crap. It simply makes you a purveyor of bad taste.

The funny part is that your column and these pundits of the anti-Goth realm are just fueling Manson's record sales and further promoting the Goth fashion world (it is mostly fashion, y'know). Robert Wilonsky, you should know better. You have written some intriguing articles over the years. Have you lost a step? This is old. Real old.

Via e-mail

Not quite yet
It has finally happened. You have written a music-oriented column that I actually agree with, Robert. After all the years of agreeing with people who say that you suck, I agree with your summation of the Dixie Chicks ["Teaching a (history) lesson," December 10]. They are the ones producing 12-amp maximum power suckage. [Editor's note: Just one problem. Zac Crain wrote the article.]

I saw the Dixie Chicks in concert when there were four, and they were good. They were like four Bill Monroes in skirts, but they were very good. Very talented and very conscious of their country-music heritage. I was most impressed with their respect for country music's roots, which is the music I grew up on.

Now, they treat their past as if it never happened. Bands abound in today's market that have done the same and paid for it (see "Ron Wood Joins Rolling Stones"), and more than likely the Chicks will rue the day. They are a blip on the radar--a sexier, more marketable blip--but a blip just the same. Their time will come and go, and perhaps Macy and Lynch will be vindicated. If they even care. I know I wouldn't if I had founded a band and was referred to in the bio as a "lineup change."

Thanks for the good read.
Via e-mail

Off base
Does Robert Wilonsky smoke crack? His article on Lyle Lovett [Music Listings, November 19] was terrible. First of all, this was a tribute album, meaning he was thanking these guys for their guidance and whatever else he may have learned from them. This to me would give Lyle every right to perform the songs how he wants, not to mention paying these guys back with royalties from record sales. I suggest that if you want to hear Guy Clark, then go buy a Guy Clark album, and we'd better not see a review from you on the Lyle show in your next issue.

Chris Watters
Via e-mail

Indeed, you sound angry
Zac [Crain], seriously...you really don't know what you're talking about. Try actually listening to Depeche Mode's albums [Music Listings, November 19] instead of getting musical info from your contrived newspaper friends. You say "The band's new ideas are only old ideas." Well, I say, please try to think before you speak.

Indeed, I may sound angry, but I'm expressing the same sentiment as you did in your article. An eye for an eye, I suppose.

Via e-mail

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