Milk It! Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion, Jim DeRogatis

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One Response to “Milk It! Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion, Jim DeRogatis”

  1. Vincent B. Says:

    The thing that makes Jim DeRogatis’ music writing so fun isn’t his “diction” or “similes and metaphors” or whatever; it’s his willingness to be wrong. That may not make sense, but it is clear when reading his book Milk It! Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the 90’s. The book is comprised almost entirely of articles he wrote about 25 years ago. Not only does he reflect on bands and demonstrate his opinions on their various albums, he often attempts to predict their futures. Oftentimes, he couldn’t be more wrong. For example, claimed that Urge Overkill’s cover of “Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon” was a mistake because “Neil Diamond will never be cool” (DeRogatis 106). However, Quentin Tarantino’s use of that exact cover in Pulp Fiction clearly proved that not only is the song cool, it’s actually much cooler than most other songs in existence. Nevertheless, that is what makes DeRogatis’ writing exciting; his unabashed opinions on various 90’s bands are completely left the way they were in the 90’s, making the book a very accurate representation of music history in the last 20+ years. He starts close to home, both literally and figuratively. His articles on Nirvana tie in seamlessly to the section on Courtney Love and her band Hole. The Seattle scene is really explored in these first sections; he frequently references Sub Pop Records, Green River, Malfunkshun, Tad, Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees, Soundgarden and Mudhoney, even when the article is about Pearl Jam. He really gets that all the groups are tied together in some way or another, and it presents an idea of musical unification in this important era of Washington State history. Next he moves a few hundred miles east to the booming alternative rock scene from Chicago. He explores three artists in this area; one that I obsess on, one that I like a lot, and another that I despise with a passion: Urge Overkill, Liz Phair, and the Smashing Pumpkins, respectively. I don’t agree with him on the music or philosophy of Urge, but he really enhanced my opinion of Liz Phair. As for the Pumpkins, we agree that lead singer Billy Corgan is an egotistical pile of self-pity in his music. I don’t want to go much farther into the collection, for it is more of the same. If you aren’t already familiar with the genre and its importance or just don’t care, you should probably start with something more up your alley– a Michael Bolton biography, perhaps, or an informative look at The New Kids On the Block. Yeah– that sounds about right.

    Evaluation:
    This book was exactly what I needed. I honestly haven’t read a book purely for pleasure since middle school, and this collection of articles caught me at the perfect time and talked about all the right things. See, since about my freshmen year, I’ve gradually been liking/discovering more alternative music from the 1990’s, and realizing that I connect to it far more than I do to my old roots in 70’s classic rock. It still sounds so complex and fresh to me, even all the songs I’ve overplayed to the point of all my friends hating it. Jim DeRogatis proves to be exactly what I’m missing in my life- someone to talk and discuss alternative rock in depth with. It is written explicitly for the young listeners, from my age through college, and appeals to “Generation Y” frequently. It relates to US History well; sometimes, in school, we forget the magnitude of effect that music has on our society, even as near as the time period of these articles. If you have any interest in bands and how they all progressed and imploded (which, let’s face it, very few of you do), I would highly recommend this book, as it covers almost all areas of the alternative rock era that I have become so immersed in!

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