Tuesday, January 6, 2004

I love Top Ten lists, Best of Year, Best of All Time, Most Overlooked, anything of that nature. Obviously not every one--the American Film Institute's ignorant lists certainly have damaged film culture--but the general idea. Doing my ballot for the Pazz & Jop poll is always a peculiar experience. For one thing, I realize that in some deep and even a superficial way it doesn't much matter. But still I want it to be right and that really won't happen. For one thing, the earliest to make any reasonable determination about the best records of 2003 will be at least December 2004; until then there's just too much unheard and too many mayfly passions for most of it to stick. But a main assumption for this timing is that anybody submitting is a professional critic, meaning a lot of free records. I get some, used to get a bunch, but not enough to really stay on top of things. Being current is not particularly important for a critic but is for a reviewer (I won't replay the most common distinction between the two but another is that critics don't make lists except for bibliographies and such). I'll sound like a dweeb but the best music I heard in 2003 included a Prokofiev piano concerto, some of Rosemary Clooney's RCA recordings, a Fred McDowell collection, a few of the WFMU pledge premium CDs, the first Gould version of The Goldberg Variations, in other words I wasn't trying to keep pace with 2003. I think my list is respectable but I wasn't spending the time digging up cool indie rock bands--though I know they're there--because I was just digging other things.