Ed Driscoll

Interrogating Ahmet Ertegun

Having bashed modern pop culture six ways to Sunday tonight, it’s only fair to look at one of the men who made the pop culture of the 1950s through the ’80s great: Ahmet Ertegun, the man who founded Atlantic Records, and signed to his label at various times in their careers Bobby Darin, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and a million other musicians, many of whose CDs reside on my shelf and yours.

It’s telling though, that when asked, “Who are the great talents in music today?”, Ertegun immediate responce, that “There are still many great surviving talents”, unintentionally reinforces something Jonah Goldberg wrote last year: that so much of today’s pop culture is living off the good will of its past, rather than forging new bonds with its audience.

It’s even more telling that when asked a leading question by his interviewer in Slate, “How do you feel about the U.S.-led Iraq war?”, Ertegun doesn’t launch into a Michael Moore-like spasm involving Haliburton, Bushitler, and the like–and that he’s been known to talk things over with Donald Rumseld.

I have no idea what Ertegun’s politics are, or if such conversations are routine, but it’s tough to imagine a similiar exchange ocurring between Rumsfeld, and say, David Geffen.

(Via Frank Martin.)