Hipsters

Tony Ballz

A hipster will put up fliers for his band’s show but the location won’t be on it because if you’re cool enough you’ll know where the show is. When a hipster wants to “rock out”, he’ll put on Franz Ferdinand instead of the Stooges. A hipster will have zero CDs by Elvis Presley, but at least one by ABBA. A hipster always makes sure the lyrics to whatever he’s playing aren’t offensive to his girlfriend, even if he doesn’t have one.

A hipster will dislike something not because of the thing itself, but because of the low coolness level of the people who do like it. Examples:

Heavy metal/hard rock – Metalheads are easy to mock, and no hipster wants to be mistaken for one. A hipster wouldn’t be caught dead listening to Kyuss or The Melvins, but High on Fire and Boris and Sunn O))) and Mastodon are OK (even though they’re all highly derivative of the first two) because they have a little indie sprinkled on them. My Morning Jacket’s music is obviously rooted in 1970’s stadium/Southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd (tres unhip) but the group hails from Louisville, which is cool because Slint were from there and Louisville isn’t REALLY the South.

Country – Same as metal. NO hipster wants to be mistaken for a redneck. Outlaw country like Merle Haggard is hip, if only just to have one album prominently displayed that is never listened to and cost a dollar. Johnny Cash is hip because he had a photo taken of him flipping the bird and got busted for drugs and recorded songs by Nick Cave and Danzig, but no one knows who Charlie Rich is.

Hipsters LOVE tortured artists and tragic dead guys. Townes Van Zandt is lionized not only for his spectacular songwriting, but because his life was such a mess. No hipster gives a damn about John Prine because he’s still breathing and there’s not a lot of good stories about how he ruined the lives of his friends and family.

Speaking of dead, Nick Drake’s stuff is nice but it’s barely a pimple compared to the incredible music his buddy John Martyn made in the same time period. Of course, Drake was painfully shy, battled depression, and killed himself at 23 (extremely hip) while Martyn was extroverted, a chipper fellow to the end despite having half a leg amputated, and died of being old (BOR-ing). Nick Drake’s hipness even survived a Volkswagen commercial, but only because he was already dead.

The Fall were probably a better band than Joy Division, but … dead guy. You won’t see a hipster wearing any of The Fall’s LP designs on a t-shirt. The point of a hipster’s t-shirt is to advertise his hipness, not to champion obscure groups that girls don’t care about. That’s the parvenu of record collector scum, who are basically hipsters without sex lives.

It’s hip to like The Beatles, but not their solo stuff. It’s hip to like The Rolling Stones, but only from 1968-1972. It’s hip to like The Beach Boys, but not the cars and surfing songs.

Fifteen years ago, it was the opposite of hip to like Bruce Springsteen. Now it’s the epitome, and so is acting like you knew he was cool all along. I used to dare people I could find a Springsteen song in their CD collection and then make a beeline grab for MTV Unplugged by 10,000 Maniacs (because everybody had it) and point to “Because The Night.”

“Oh, I LOVE that song!”

Maybe I did my little part to make The Boss hip to these cretins. You’re welcome, Bruce.

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