Posted: Dec 14, 2006 2:56 pm
At one point, the whole goth thing really meant something because it gave nerdy kids a way to be black to the world while exploring the grey areas. If that sounds too faggy, I'll put it another way. The goth kids were the ones that got good grades and only got into trouble when the heshers or the jocks beat up on them. They scared everyone because they partied in graveyards and read Poe. Not only that, but it's really hard to classify goth as a genre of music. It can be anywhere from loud, silly, fast, to classical. The only thing that really holds it all together are its influences - Bowie, VU, T Rex, and Syd Barrett. The real thing is the VU influence. There's a great saying that everyone hated VU, but the ones that liked them started bands. Almost every band on that box claim VU as a major influence. That doesn't mean too much now because everyone and their mother claim how much they love VU. Almost nobody did back then.
To understand why bands like J and MC are included in the goth genre, you either would have had to have been in high school at the beginning of the '80s or have listened to enough music to see how they all have some kind of link to each other. You don't have to have fake fangs, a few ankhs, and wear black all the time to be considered goth. I remember my friend Phil, the only goth in Albuquerque in 1985, pulling out his J and MC 12 inches and playing them very often, mixed in with Specimen, Sex Gang Children, Alien Sex Fiend, Christian Death, etc. This was before J and MC had a full length album; Psychocandy came out later that year. Again, heavy VU influence, although they used to be considered The Beach Boys with chainsaws.
Goth used to be cool. It was garage, punk, techno, classical, psychedelic, Munsters influenced or Poe influenced. But because it was so broad, many people like me who were really into it found other music out there that shared some common influences too. After I started college, I started collecting music by people who did VU covers, for example. That turned me on to 60's garage rock, which brought me back to my earlier influences like The Jam and The Who. And back then, the punks, the mods, the goths, the new wave kids all hung out together and all went to the same shows because they were all outsiders and had more in common with each other then everyone else; Aside from the fact that we were all safer in a bigger crowd of likeminded people.
It used to be out of the mainstream and kind of an inside thing that you and a few others knew. Blame it on Marilyn Munchkin for introducing white trash to angry music. Goth is a cliche now. It didn't used to be. The goth box is a sample of music, not a definitive collection, so it's not going to have the more obscure, experimental stuff like Death in June, Current 93, yada yada yada. As for Joy Division, somebody needs to impose a ban on using them for compilations. That damn song is also on Rhino's punk box and 80s college rock/alternative box.
I'll have to side with Daniel Ash from Bauhaus on this argument. "Goth is a label for people without talent." That's why it can't be so easily pidgeonholed and why there's a thread back and forth over who is and who isn't goth. It's either good in some way - it's different, thought provoking, intense, whatever. It rocks you in a good way, or it sucks ass. Treat what people consider to be goth music as a bigger grey area and you'll appreciate it more.
And my black candle is about to burn out. Later.