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“Issuing Some Constructive Winter Furies to Jeff Passan’s Music Taste”

For anyone unfamiliar with Jeff Passan, he’s the highly agreeable and enthusiastic on-field voice of ESPN’s baseball broadcasts, and frequent contributor to Sportscenter on any and all things baseball-related. As has been the default in these pandemic times with many of these figures, including one girl who hoists a copy of Wowee Zowee [1] on vinyl in the background of her interviews, Passan can be seen in something resembling a home office, during Sportcenter interview bits. Free to decorate this office as he pleases, he’s adorned it with a bunch of trinkets and three vinyl albums: Jimi Hendrix’ Band of Gypsys, Rage against the Machine’s Evil Empire and Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.

Now, I happen to be a huge fan of Passan’s. I’m also a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix’, Rage against the Machine’s and Wu-Tang’s. Still, his selections really pi** me off. And I’ll try to sum up the reason why as best I can. As for reasons why it would matter that I’m pi**ed off about this, that might be trickier.

And I had planned on providing a grounding for my compunction by way of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, an undeniable classic and mandatory mainstay of any completist library. As it turns out, I think this was one of my books that got damaged in my apartment a couple years ago, so citing it appears to be at least a temporary impossibility. The general principle, anyway, is that, basically, truth is stranger than fiction, indeed, and Holmes can spot a lie by its simplicity, basically. 

That’s kind of like what Passan’s music taste is, to me — like a fabrication that’s obviously so by its staunch adherence to the general trends. All three of the albums he shows have certain things in common that make them really obvious picks — they’re all the critical favorite by the band [2] and they’re all very straight-male-leaning as well [3]. What Holmes says in a nutshell is something like for the greatest details and the greatest stories we must look to life itself, which renders a reality more creative and complex than any human mind could muster [4]. 

But actually, it’s a moot point, because just a second ago on TV I saw this Taco Bell commercial that was, like, sorta special, and which summed up my point perfectly, at that. The actor in the commercial looked into the camera with a poignant look, almost a tear in his eye, and beckoned the viewer to “Don’t eat like I eat… Just eat like you.” 

This kind of sums up my point about Jeff Passan. I don’t want him to listen to music like I listen to. I just want him to listen to music like him. And sure, this is a stupid thing to argue about, since music isn’t even his line of work in the first place. But let’s just say I’m going a little insane from winter and from baseball being gone for so long, and from last year featuring a meagre 60 games for every team, although it seems like they all played another 60 games in the playoffs. 

Props to that girl who had Pavement in her background and really that’s not the most cliched album by them to choose. But is indie maybe effeminate, these days? And I mean why would Jeff Passan be that angry, to want to put on all that virile, abrasive music all the time? What about like Big Head Todd and the Monsters, or something like that? “Please Don’t Tell Her” has got to be the greatest song of all time. I swear to God. And yes it’s heterosexual — about as heterosexual as you God da** get. 

And another reason why Passan’s selections pi** me off is that nobody seems willing to shout out to any Wu-Tang material other than 36 Chambers. But not only does Wu-Tang Forever have a bunch of awesome songs on it, like “Little Ghetto Boys”; “Visionz”; “Older Gods”; “Hellz Wind Staff” and many more, but The W, their third album as a complete collective, is an absolute classic and might even be better than their debut. I’ll let you listen to judge. Battle of Los Angeles would have I think made a more interesting Rage selection, with its impeccable production and crisp, taut approach to song construction, and I think it’s an absolute crime that they took The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Live at Winterland [5] off the market. It was a great leveling off of a bunch of Experience hit songs like “Hey Joe”; “Fire”; “Foxey Lady”; “Purple Haze” and more, where the overproduction was no longer an issue where the songs were allowed to breathe and lash freely in a raw, uncontrolled and organic rock and roll setting. 

And I mean what about stuff that’s just off the beaten path? Toad the Wet Sprocket? INXS? Sh**, Collective Soul? Oh, you doubt the brilliance of Collective Soul? Say hello to my little linking friend! 

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[1] This is Pavement’s third full-length album, released in 1996. 

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[2] The one exception might be Evil Empire, which is likely occluded by the band’s self-titled debut in general critical acclaim and cultural acceptance. 

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[3] On Homeboy Sandman’s brilliant new album from last year Don’t Feed the Monster he makes a brilliant point about how people these days are overly terrified of making a mistake, hence making for a very sterile environment, which I certainly see as something making Passan’s musical selections problematic.  

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[4] Can you guess which category I think the handsome, cinema-ready Edward Snowden captured by the evil Ruskies falls into? 

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[5] This British “group” should of course be differentiated as containing Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums from the “Jimi Hendrix” moniker for which the band was essentially a bunch of minority Americans that indeed went unofficially as the “band of gyspys” (sic). 

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