Ultimately it’s ugly snobbery that leads Andrew Grimes to poke fun at Peel fans (see here). Grimes writes Peel off as a fraud, claiming he preferred simple, innocent blues music to the ‘yowlings and boom-boomings’ he recommended as a joke on ‘gullible record collectors’. Grimes himself claims a higher ground. He’s into Bach, who’s never touched me (not that means anything). I think Morrissey sums the problem up: ‘The music that they constantly play, says nothing to me about my life’ could as easily been applied to Grimes as to the soon to be hanged DJ. And of course his career in The Smiths was kicked off by the late John Peel, as were a great many Manchester bands.
Some of us like music for today, while Grimes finds the sounds of 1700s speak to him and provide a sense of cultural superiority that fits with the aged reactionary tone of his column. Fortunately, snobbery is much less likely to flow the other way. While it may have led the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to an ill-advised attempt to bring the classics to the masses in the 1980s, pop happily samples from the classics (think euphoric dance). That’s not to say classical music can’t respond to contemporary life. If Grimes were to travel down the road to Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music, he’d find that some of the city’s most innovative musicians are classical composers. I’ve mentioned the work of one of those composers, Salford resident Ailis Ni Riain, over here. Sadly, with certain classical ‘fans’ preferring to believe in the myth of a centuries old golden age, its hard for people like Ailis to find an audience. I suspect Peel would have been sympathetic to her plight.
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