If I asked you to name the most-hated rock band of all time, who would it be? Or, to put a finer point on it, how many bands would you have to list before you got to Rush?
In a piece from a forthcoming book published in Salon recently, Rolling Stone writer Rob Delaney categorically states “Rush are easily, beyond any rational dispute, the most intensely despised rock band who ever existed.” Which he’s perfectly within his rights to say because ‘Merica, but he doesn’t provide much evidence in support of it. They were very popular, especially among young men, he groans; classic rock radio plays them a lot. Neither of those are especially good reasons for hatred. I presume he knows that the vast majority of Pink Floyd fans were (and are) young men, as were and are fans of the Doors and Jimi Hendrix, to name but two. And while I agree that the classic-rock canon is justifiably maligned, if its most popular artists are “corporate rock radio’s flagship bands,” they’ve got lots of company, up to and including the Beatles. While Delaney admits to liking Rush now, it’s more a kind of “what are you gonna do?” shrug than it is out-and-out fandom. And he seems mostly bemused by the fans who get excited by “YYZ” and “The Spirit of Radio,” and not really on the verge of joining in.
Honesty compels me to report that I hated Delaney’s piece less after I read it a second time—and I think if I read it a third time it would probably disappear entirely.
A second piece in Salon takes what looks like the opposite tack. Stephen Deusner, a writer for Pitchfork among others, makes the case that forgiving and learning to like the Eagles—which a handful of writers have done in recent years—is a bad thing. Hating the Eagles is a topic we’ve discussed here recently, and Deusner doesn’t say anything Eagle-haters haven’t said previously, taking the band to task for recording plastic Americana and being drug-abusing jerks. He believes that these sins make whatever degree of cultural rehabilitation the Eagles are receiving these days (Chuck Klosterman apparently thinks they’re OK now) misguided, and we should go on hating them because they’re still terrible.
A guy from Pitchfork hates the Eagles. Why I never.
Interesting: Delaney claims he doesn’t have the energy to hate Rush anymore, while Deusner suggests that such energy should never be permitted to flag, at least when it’s aimed at the Eagles. This is probably a good reason why we probably shouldn’t take life advice from Salon—and I say that as someone who’s read Salon daily since I first discovered the Internet.
Whatever defense of Rush I am mounting here has nothing to do with fandom—they’re just another band I have heard and played on the radio, and I have no feelings about them one way or the other—it’s merely speaking up against a premise that frosts me. If I asked some average rock fans to name their 50 most-hated bands, I submit that Rush might make a few lists—although the Eagles are far more likely to be at the top of a few. As for Deusner’s premise—that Eagles-hate should burn like eternal hellfire—I’m the one who doesn’t have the energy for that, and I’d say that even if they were just another band I have heard and played on the radio.
Hate a band if you like, boys. Or don’t. But if you’re going to make an argument, make one. Don’t just fling shit against the wall and call whatever sticks your point.
(Days after publishing the Rush and Eagles pieces, Salon published another, in which writer Prachi Gupta listed the 15 most hated bands of the last 30 years—every one of them far more execrable than either Rush or the Eagles. It wasn’t a good week for music at Salon, no it was not.)