But we were serious about music. And no other publication in America spoke to my generation, and many succeeding generations, about popular music more authoritatively or entertainingly than The Village Voice.
News that The Voice may be on its way out will not elicit much in the way of sympathy from most conservatives. That’s to be expected. The unrelenting far left slant of its political coverage was both irritating and sometimes hysterically and unintentionally funny.
The Voice nurtured some of the best liberal writers of the latter half of the 20th century, fulfilling much the same function that Buckley’s The National Review accomplished for the right in that respect. It was loud, brash, unconventional, and gloriously subversive. But what interested my friends and me was that it took rock music as seriously as we did. We had endless discussions about the music, the musicians, and the themes and messages hidden and obvious. The music talked to us, spoke our language. There was, what long time music critic for The Voice Robert Christgau (fired in 2006) referred to a “texture” and subtext to the music that once revealed, allowed us to appreciate what it was we were listening to in a more subtle, and enjoyable way.
I eventually outgrew The Voice, just as I outgrew rock music and liberalism. And much to their chagrin, I’m sure, The Village Voice has become part of the establishment — just another alternative weekly spouting liberal inanities and parroting the nostrums of the far left. The last time I read it, about a decade ago, I remember thinking how boring it was. The columns I read were strident and humorless — a far cry from the vibrant, obnoxiously brilliant writing I recalled from my youth.
My father and mother watched as the old Mom and Pop grocery store died a slow death. My grandparents watched the end of wheelwrights and blacksmiths. Progress is sometimes measured in pain and suffering, and the eventual end of The Village Voice and the newspaper business in general shouldn’t be mourned any more than the corner grocery store, whose death led to the modern supermarket, or blacksmiths, whose disappearance was a harbinger of the coming transportation revolution and the internal combustion engine.
But perhaps somewhere, in some quiet place where reminisces of one’s youth is allowed, I’ll shed a single tear for the death of The Voice when it happens. At a time when few adults, or adult publications, understood what their children were thinking and feeling, The Voice and the music they wrote about, answered a need to express the inexpressible that I am grateful for to this day.