Roll over Beethoven and make room for … Lari Goss?
In an effort to display his ability to show over-the-top enthusiasm for what is doubtless a well-produced album, Daniel suggested that Lari Goss deserves to be placed along-side Mozart, Beethoven and Bach as a great composer. Having been on a classical music kick of late, I found this comparison somewhat ignorant. Not to belabor the point, but what the aforementioned composers were doing was far more disruptive and foundational to western music than anything Goss is doing. Actually, the jobs are entirely different, so comparing them or mentioning them side by side isn’t even fair. Surely there’s ways to praise a producer’s work without making over-the-top comparisons that don’t stand up to scrutiny - that are evidently ridiculous to someone with a rudimentary knowledge of music history.
Just so. It reminds me of that old game from childhood … one of these things is not like the other … one of these things does not belong.
I give Mount a lot of friendly grief among bloggers for his love of the list and his Norman-Vincent-Peale brand of rose-colored blogging, but there’s no real harm done by these aspects of his approach. On the other hand, the sort of ahistorical hyperbole that RDP justifiably calls out here really is problematic. Mount’s outrageous comparison participates in a larger trend in southern gospel fueled by how overlooked and under-appreciated and misunderstood southern gospel is among outsiders, secular and sacred alike. It takes vigilance not to let sg’s marginal status drift into latent grievance-based thinking that in turn leads to vastly overstating the music’s achievements.
Southern gospel’s powerful and abiding impact on its many fan is not diminished by its second-class citizenship in the history of American sacred music, and asserting untenable claims - like floating a Lari-Ludwig connection - really only reinforces the perception of the music as a backwater world of pseudo-artistry dominated by a certain unserious knowing-nothingness.
I don’t know Mount well, but the few interactions I’ve had with him left me with nothing if not a palpable sense of the earnestness of his thinking about the music. So while I won’t speak for RDP, I can say for myself that I wouldn’t want my comments here to be read as a disparagement of Daniel’s intentions. He’s among the music’s most tireless promoters online. But yeah … a deep breath or two and a few steps back before hitting the PUBLISH button really are in order when the rhetoric gets blown so discreditingly out of proportion.
Update: For the record, Daniel Mount responded to my post in an email this morning:
I had a good laugh over today’s post. It doesn’t bother me if someone disagrees with my views. But before you pass a final judgment on Lari Goss’s skills, get the original breathy, CCM-praise-band version here (get the whole song) and compare that to Goss’s orchestral masterpiece. I dare to predict you’ll change your mind.
I guess I must not have made myself clear above that there is simply no amount of evidence currently available (nor will there ever be, unless Goss is a very late bloomer) that would warrant the comparison Daniel made. Then again, at this point, it’s seems pretty clear Mount either doesn’t get why the great masters of classical music he summoned up for his original comparison are important in music history, or it doesn’t matter to him for the purposes of what he’s trying to achieve (nuclear powered superfandom?). I dunno. This seems like a pointless discussion to draw out much further, though comments remain open of course. If you think rearranging a mediocre CCM P&W number - or over-orchestrating a southern gospel album - is a legitimate basis on which to say someone belongs on a list of the most influential figures in western music and art culture, it’s probably a belief you hold for reasons that don’t submit to debate. Why it’s not enough for Lari Goss to just be really uncommonly good and often great at what he does remains unclear to me, but then this is blogging. So unclarity is a default position.Email this Post