One of the reasons we love sports is because it gives us something to argue about. It just wouldn’t have been as much fun growing up a Yankees fan in Queens if I hadn’t been growing up in a family of Mets fans. My brother Jerry and I would argue for hours about whose team was better. And now that the universe’s sick sense of humor has visited upon me a daughter who is a Mets fan, and an assistant who is – even worse – a Red Sox fan, I can continue to have those same arguments now.
As music fans, we naturally fall into the same sorts of behavior. Who was the best rock band, the Beatles or the Stones? Who was the better conductor, Toscanini or Furtwängler? Sinatra or Bennett? Miles Davis or Chet Baker? Callas or Tebaldi? Blur or Oasis? Jay Z or Fifty Cent? We started doing our Tuesday “Soundcheck Smackdown” segments for exactly this reason – because when you’re passionate about something, you argue about it - especially when someone isn’t quite as passionate about it as you are. You become a fan, and part of being a fan is the right and the privilege of defending your choice against all others. Our first Smackdown dealt with the classic Beatles argument – who wrote the best songs, John or Paul? (Soundcheck listeners, always a perverse bunch, seemed to agree that the correct answer was Ringo.)
Sean Mannings’ “Rock N Roll Cage Match” is therefore an entertaining book, because it gives us even more to argue about. I don’t know if Metallica vs Nirvana was ever really a rivalry, or U2 and REM, but hey, we can argue about that too.
What’s your favorite music rivalry? Name a favorite artist and tell us who their archenemy is and maybe we can steal a few of these for future Smackdowns…