September 17, 2023

"In the interview, David Marchese of The Times asked Mr. Wenner, 77, why the book included no women or people of color."

"Regarding women, Mr. Wenner said, 'Just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level,' and remarked that Joni Mitchell 'was not a philosopher of rock ’n’ roll.' His answer about artists of color was less direct. 'Of Black artists — you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right?' he said. 'I suppose when you use a word as broad as "masters," the fault is using that word. Maybe Marvin Gaye, or Curtis Mayfield? I mean, they just didn’t articulate at that level.'"

From "Jann Wenner Removed From Rock Hall Board After Times Interview/The Rolling Stone co-founder’s exit comes a day after The New York Times published an interview in which he made widely criticized comments" (NYT).

Wenner's book, called "The Masters," collects various Rolling Stone interviews, and every single one is with a white male. Good and obvious choices like Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and Bono. But, come on, how could Wenner not have known he'd be challenged for omitting all women and all black musicians?!

Why wasn't he prepared with a response — and by that I mean an articulate response?

ADDED: Maybe he wanted to insult women and black people. After all, he chose the title "Masters" — a term that is both masculine and not entirely disconnected from memories of slavery.

And hasn't Rolling Stone always touted rock music as exemplified by white male musicians? You're just going to lean into that? 

Finally, doesn't everyone know the racial baggage attached to the word "articulate"?

83 comments:

The Crack Emcee said...

Jann Wenner couldn't explain "Atomic Dog" in a million years.

Dave Begley said...

I’d take 10 Motown people over Bono and Bruce.

And didn’t he defend the fake UVA rape story?

What a loser.

Kate said...

"I'm sorry for my oversight but I was distracted by thoughts of the Roman Empire." -- Jann Wenner

Aught Severn said...

This post gives me an idea for my own version of that 'In this house we believe in...' virtue signal sign. In this case: "the master bedroom".

Because slavery!

Joe Smith said...

"Maybe Marvin Gaye, or Curtis Mayfield?"

"Let's get it on" "Sexual healing" "Superfly"

That is some Algonquin round table shit right there.

wild chicken said...

Golly I love Joni Mitchell but she came out of the folk scene and tried to transition to jazz. She's not a rocker.

A rocker should play, sing and write rock n roll. And be able to talk about their work.

Even Elvis, he was just a singer to me. Meh.

I see nothing wrong with Wenner liking music that is more in his own demographic.

Rather like Betty Friedan writing about hers, only to be criticized for omitting working class and women of color! Write what you know.

If you want to see real White Flight, check out the Americana/roots music scene.

Owen said...

“Articulate” was a bad choice of words. He should have talked about cleanliness and a perfect pants crease.

Joe Smith said...

'But, come on, how could Wenner not have known he'd be challenged for omitting all women and all black musicians?!"

Wenner is a homosexual. He's spent his entire life excluding women.

As for blacks, that's anybody's guess.

But Obama was 'clean' and 'articulate,' at least according to Joe...

gilbar said...

The "masters" of Rock and Roll.. But NO chuck berry? right! Sure!!!
Every word in the Rolling Stone is a lie.. Including AND and THE

mccullough said...

Wenner always has been a douche bag

gilbar said...

Someone name a WHITE hairstylist that contributed even half as much to Rock and Roll as Chuck?

Yancey Ward said...

Don't his critics have to offer up a comparison of the interviews excluded from the book to those Wenner selected?

I have read quite a few of the Rolling Stone conversations with artists over my lifetime, and few really stuck out to me- I just did a quick search on the Joni Mitchell one, and it comes up from 1991, so I definitely read it at the time because I had a subscription to Rolling Stone in 1991. Nothing in it rang a bell as I reread it just now, and I have a prodigious memory for things I have read. In short, it was completely uninteresting and provided no deep insight to Mitchell's musical career to me- I would not have selected that essay for any collection.

rehajm said...

and remarked that Joni Mitchell 'was not a philosopher of rock ’n’ roll.'

...but I mean Jesus, have you heard Joni Mitchell talk? C'mon...

I'm old enough to remember when America gave talent freedom to express themselves. Applying the DIE standard to artists is appalling...

Dustbunny said...

I never thought of Joni Mitchell as being rock and roll, she is more of a folk and jazz influenced singer/writer and for me, rather twee. Her stuff is pretty. Wenner was always an ego driven dick in thrall to self-confident, talented men. The guys that were creating the music of his time. He’s a jerk but I think I’d rather read the interviews he choose than those he left out. It’s his book and his choices but Althouse is right that he should have had better more articulate statements for the interview.

rehajm said...

Someone just gifted me a copy of the new book A Man and His Watch. I wonder what the author had to do to get that published...

Rich said...

People forget these days that the heart and soul of Rolling Stone magazine was its co-founder, jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason. Now there was a magnificent writer and rock fan. RIP Mr. Gleason. Wenner has always struck me as kind of a tool.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

Try explaining to the person from Mars the differences between Wenner, Biden, and Trump.

rhhardin said...

White men are the explainers.

rhhardin said...

Women and blacks are more into outrage.

Joe Smith said...

'Someone name a WHITE hairstylist that contributed even half as much to Rock and Roll as Chuck?'

I get your point. Chuck Berry had unworldly talent and 'was' rock and roll.

But Wenner was not speaking of just talent, he was speaking more of intellect in relation to that talent.

By all accounts, Berry was not an intellectual giant. As great a musician as he was, the man was downright creepy in ways you can't print in a family newspaper...

Joe Smith said...

'Someone just gifted me a copy of the new book A Man and His Watch. I wonder what the author had to do to get that published...'

I received it as a gift as well...I flipped through it and put is aside.

If you're a WIS (you are one only if you know what that means without looking it up) there are other references...

Dear corrupt left, go F yourselves said...

"I’d take 10 Motown people over Bono and Bruce."

Amen to that.

White Left Rich Fake-working class Bruce ... he is a c-sucker. over-rated, too.

Jupiter said...

"But, come on, how could Wenner not have known he'd be challenged for omitting all women and all black musicians?!"

Maybe his Giveafuckometer was on the fritz.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Dylan/Jagger/Lennon/Springsteen/Bono/Townshend told Wenner what he wanted to hear; that there was deep meaning to their music. Joni/Marvin/Stevie didn't fall for that bullshit and Wenner couldn't get a good interview. That's all it is.

Ice Nine said...

>gilbar said...
Someone name a WHITE hairstylist that contributed even half as much to Rock and Roll as Chuck (Berry)?<

I'm sure there has never been a single one of those on the planet that did. The smart money is betting that rock musicians always contribute much more to Rock and Roll than hairstylists do.

Anyway, Wenner (who has always been a douche, but that is incidental) clarified that his criteria for his interviewees was intellect and articulateness. Where do you think that Chuck falls on that scale? (Now there's another easy money bet.)

Roger Sweeny said...

I'm being completely serious, but isn't Wenner's being gay at least part of it? A significant strand of gay male culture is over-the-top masculinity. People like Jagger are right in that wheelhouse. Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield are at least adjacent. Joni Mitchell is way on the other side.

Quaestor said...

For me, this is a tempest in a teapot without tea or even a pot. But it does lead me to wonder would Wenner stand disgraced today if his Masters list included no white men?

Do opinions count or must racism and sexism intrude everywhere?

mikee said...

God forbid he dedicates a book to female rockers, and titles it, "The Mistresses" or some such.

Rehajm, I recommend the book "Longitude" by David Sobel if you want a great read about watches. https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/4806

wild chicken said...

"Applying the DIE standard to artists is appalling..."

It's ruined everyrhing. So boring and obligatory. And tbe omitted parties couldn't care less.

Darury said...

The "masters" of Rock and Roll.. But NO chuck berry? right! Sure!!! Every word in the Rolling Stone is a lie.. Including AND and THE

And no mention of his cousin Marvin either. But seriously, 65 years later and Johnny B. Good is still a great track and pretty much anyone would recognize it.

donald said...

I heard that Wild Chicken. It don’t get much whiter and male than a Drive By Truckers show.

Rabel said...

I read the interview and Wenner's refusal to bend the knee to political correctness was refreshing.

The fact that he was instrumental in the development of political correctness leaves me a little confused but I attribute that to Wenner being a rich, old guy who has come to not give a damn what you people think about him and he wasn't going to include some bimbo songbird in his book just to make you happy. Black guy? Never crossed his mind.

In his dotage, despite his history of leftist idiocy, Wenner has become a spiritual brother, in part, of rhhardin and about half of us here.

Preach it, Brother Jann.

rcocean said...

why should he have to include a woman? Who are we talking about Joni Mitchell (who's not well known), Janis Joplin and ???

Werner is just telling the truth - when it comes to women musicians. Most aren't very good, and there are so few good ones, the chances they are also articulate is pretty much zero. I don't care if you sing someone else's music and have a vagina. That's not interesting.

Black artists are quite a differnet story. You have so many Black Giants of Rock and Roll and Jazz, etc. its strange he didn't include even ONE.

It'd be interesting to know the gender breakdown on these kinds of books. I'd bet 76-80 percent are men. Althouse may be a "thinker" when it comes to music. Most women arent.

iowan2 said...

I've talked to Doctorates, recognized across the globe for their expertise. They could not explain how to cross the street leaving his own house.

Being accomplished and still being inarticulate is reality. I've dealt with farmers having no more than an 8th grade education, they were fascinating people. \
I guess the lesson, dont judge a book by its cover.

You may disagree with Sen. Kennedy from Louisiana, but you have to admitt, you could talk with him for hours. The man is interesting. Say, vs Sen lie-awatha. Smart, but dull as a butter knife.

Sally327 said...

It seems like Wenner is just one more confused old person who needs a minder. Maybe he should run for President. Or Congress.

jnseward said...

So he prefers white boys' rock and roll. Truth be told so do I, except for The Pretenders.

Duke Dan said...

So much for living your own truth. I guess that can’t be allowed if it is a certain kind of truth. And being a douche can be your truth.

loudogblog said...

It sounds like he fell in the trap of thinking that he was smarter than everyone else...when he wasn't.

re Pete said...

“Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”

Buckwheathikes said...

Watching these people get #CANCELLED by the very psychopaths they have put in power, using the means they themselves invented is immensely rewarding.

I'm sure UVA frats are having a party about now.

Narr said...

Does Wenner ask these guys about their thoughts on Ancient Rome?

I haven't glanced at Rolling Stone in decades, even when I'm bored waiting for a haircut or some car repair. Most writing and interviewing about rock and roll is more ephemeral even than most of the music is. IMHO.

Racial and gender balance isn't my concern, either.


phantommut said...

Generally against cancellation, but if anyone ever set themselves up to be cancelled it was this dude.

chuck said...

Jann Wenner couldn't explain "Atomic Dog" in a million years.

Oh, nice.

madAsHell said...

No Chuck Berry?!?!

"If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry,"
-John Lennon

Temujin said...

I think Kate won this post.

Rory said...

An artist may or may not be of analytical disposition. Even if he or she is, an interview with that artist will not reveal that disposition if the questions are not designed to engage his or her intellect.

Narr said...

Did Dava Sobel, author of "Longitude" (which I have not read) and "The Planets" and "Galileo's Daughter" (which I have, and enjoyed) transition? (mikee post above)

If you like that sort of thing, "Revolution in Time" by Landes is also good.

rehajm said...

Rehajm, I recommend the book "Longitude" by David Sobel if you want a great read about watches

A wonderful recommendation mikee, thank you. I shall pull it off my shelf…

Kevin said...

Jann Wenner has no right to his opinion.

n.n said...

No white people (i.e. albino) - a closet rainbowist?

No people of yellow, brown, red, black (e.g. Southern Indian), trans/homosexual, etc.

Rabid Diversity, Inequity, Exclusion (DIE).

Any Blackrock... black rocks?

Levi Starks said...

Being ejected from the hall of fame carries the benefit of immediate induction into the hall of infamy.

Jim at said...

So a person must now check all the right boxes when writing their own, fucking book?

Bonkti said...

Precedent demands that the editorial assistants at Little, Brown and Company-- and the broader Hachette Publishing Group-- all threaten to hold their breath until Wenner's book is withdrawn.

The Crack Emcee said...

jnseward said...

"So he prefers white boys' rock and roll. Truth be told so do I, except for The Pretenders."

Yeah, well, keep burning that candle. The truth is, the white boys who MAKE the music always know better, no matter what warping of the culture is racially necessary to make the Jann Wenner's of the world feel comfortable with it.

Aggie said...

All these modern people demanding salted earth are going to be mighty surprised when they try their hand at growing something.

chickelit said...

I just love all the Cultural Reign of Terror stuff going on. It’s fun to watch them eat their own until there won’t be anymore heads to chop.

n.n said...

NYT, why do you exercise liberal license to indulge Diversity: color judgements, class-based bigotry? DIE is not a viable solution to Blackrock... black rock, black hole... whore, political congruence ("="), etc.

robother said...

Bruce Springsteen, one of his 7 Masters? For that crime (of commission, not omission) alone, I would cast him out of the Rock n' Roll Hall o' Fame. But as others here have commented, poetic justice is served by Wenner's woke cancellation.

Readering said...

Wonder what sales will look like.

Ficta said...

I'm conflicted.
1. Jan Wenner doesn't need to obey lefty quotas in his own book, any more than Dylan did in his.
2. Jan Wenner is a dick. Now that he's off The Hall's board, maybe New Order will finally be inducted. He really is stuck in his era.
3. No Patti Smith? Really? She's pretty damn articulate. And one of the most Rock and Roll people on Earth.

madAsHell said...

Maybe his Giveafuckometer was on the fritz.

I've noticed that about homosexuals.

Buckwheathikes said...

Why should Jann Wenner, who is clearly an absolute Democrat Party Redneck Confederate Flag Waving School Door Blocking High-Tech Lynching Pettis Bridge Blocking German Shepherd/Firehose Shooting RACIST get to earn money from distributing his vile hate speech?

Little Brown MUST not publish this racist screed or the books should be burned at the stake. Are libraries going to be safe from arsonists if they put this George Wallace Segregation Now Segregation Forever Award Winning book on the shelves?

Buckwheathikes said...

Why should Jann Wenner, who is clearly an absolute Democrat Party Redneck Confederate Flag Waving School Door Blocking High-Tech Lynching Pettis Bridge Blocking German Shepherd/Firehose Shooting RACIST get to earn money from distributing his vile hate speech?

Little Brown MUST not publish this racist screed or the books should be burned at the stake. Are libraries going to be safe from arsonists if they put this George Wallace Segregation Now Segregation Forever Award Winning book on the shelves?

Buckwheathikes said...

Why should Jann Wenner, who is clearly an absolute Democrat Party Redneck Confederate Flag Waving School Door Blocking High-Tech Lynching Pettis Bridge Blocking German Shepherd/Firehose Shooting RACIST get to earn money from distributing his vile hate speech?

Little Brown MUST not publish this racist screed or the books should be burned at the stake. Are libraries going to be safe from arsonists if they put this George Wallace Segregation Now Segregation Forever Award Winning book on the shelves?

Dude1394 said...

What dummy not sorting everyone by race and sex.

Rory said...

For a great watch about a watch, try the Only Fools and Horses episode "Time on Our Hands."

Drago said...

If you want to really to have a laugh, look up the Joe Rogan and Wenner interview and then sit back and listen to this idiot Wenner come out for complete government control of speech in the nation because...and I kid you not...even though our government lies to us about everything, "human nature never changes, but governments can change."

As if the government is somehow not comprised of people.

Interested Bystander said...

Why does everything have to be about race & gender? I am sick of it.

The Crack Emcee said...

RIP Rock 'N Roll

Kirk Parker said...

"An artist may or may not be of analytical disposition..."

I loved the time when some interviewer asked Neil Young to engage in some philosophizing/analysis of one of his songs, and Young replied, "I pretty much said what I had to say when I wrote the song."

Joe Smith said...

"I've noticed that about homosexuals."

I've noticed that about really rich homosexuals.

Fixed it...

Lem the artificially intelligent said...

More on that tag: What's stupid today might be genius tomorrw.

Hint - Down the blogs memory lane.

The funny thing is I just used the slur? with my X a short time ago... like yesterday. The same day? 😂

It is on point to call it stupid sometimes. In my case I only have so much empathy/sympathy so I have to be more careful, selective how I spend it.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Here's an articulate one he missed...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YHgWWX5DN0

Oscar Peterson's TV show.

Jupiter said...

"Maybe he wanted to insult women and black people."

I would think a simple "Fuck you, women and black people!" would suffice. He didn't need to write a whole book about something else. Although I guess that works, huh?

Marc said...

"My whole career was one long Rosetta Tharpe impersonation"
-Chuck Berry

gspencer said...

Did Cortez (1485-1547) bring with him any left-handed Polish homosexuals when he paid his visit to what is today Mexico?

Why not?

Iman said...

One doesn’t like this book, one should not read it. Choose another book.

Or better yet, write your own book.

Jay Vogt said...

. . . Why wasn't he prepared with a response — and by that I mean an articulate response?

Ha.

Not really sure who he was trying to insult or not. However when you're 77 and you've already sold the company business, why would you care?

M Jordan said...

My theory is the intellectual wing of the Left has become so used to a pushback-free world they’re willing to let their true prejudices be shown. They’re fed up with the classes they feel they’ve bent over backwards to “help” who never learn from them. The Left may be cracking like a glacier calving into the sea. But I need a bit more evidence to say that with authority. Like one more case. Biden did something similar last week but, alas, he doesn’t qualify as intellectual in any sense of the word so I won’t include him in my sweeping generalization.

NKP said...

First of all, what is the definition of Rock and Roll? Whatever yours is, you have to wonder why half the people the the RnR Hall of Fame are eligible. Why not rename it "The Hall of Fame of Popular Music"?

Second, who cares? Rock and Roll, aka, "The Music", died decades ago. Just ask Don McLean.

One thing I do know: Bono and Springsteen were poseurs. I'd replace either of them with Deborah Harry, Carol King, Joni, Tina Turner, Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, the afore-mentioned Chuck B., Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Little Richard...

gadfly said...

Senator Joseph R. Biden's characterization of his fellow Democratic presidential contender Senator Barack Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" was so painfully clumsy that it nearly warranted pity.

Pitiful indeed, but it is typical of the sloppy talk that Joe Biden is known for when he attempts to be entertaining while improving his own position in their primary election contest. It got him the job as Veep.

What Joe didn't tell us is that Obama's name was changed to Barry Soetoro by his mother, who happens to be Caucasian, after Daddy abandoned him. Otherwise, our 44th president is articulate and bright and clean (likely showers every day) and he is a nice-looking guy.

And, of course, we can admire that when Obama's term of office ended, he packed up his stuff and left town without boxes of classified documents that were not his to take, nor did he attempt a putsch.

Rich said...

"Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level." What an unfortunate thing for Mr Wenner to say.

His comments reflect how shallow and lazy the editorial direction at Rolling Stone was throughout its history. If he wanted substantive stories about and interviews with women artists and artists of color, they were certainly there for the taking. All that was required was the will to get them.

Paul From Minneapolis said...

I unequivocally condemn Bruce Springsteen for agreeing to take part in this project as the only new interview. Mainly because it means the world is subjected to yet more deep thoughts from Bruce Springsteen.