Amit Varma brings up a topic dear to my heart: the imminent extinction of the rock snob. I used to be a rock snob, but not anymore. I realized could live in the warmth of my bootlegs of Beatles' bootlegs for only so long.
The basic premise of the New Republic article (that Amit has linked to) is this: Internet and the iPod are killing the rock snob.
The writer must have written this in jest. Isn't it the ultimate elitism to complain that commoners now have access to great music? As soon as an obscure piece of music is exposed to the masses, it loses its special powers. Remember when the Beatles' Anthology was released? Oh, how I cried that night (quick, rock snobs! Where's that lyric from? Hint: This band's drummer's first name was Keith, last name Moon. Ugh.)
But can a mere MP3 player make rock snobs - those impressive founts of rock knowledge - obsolete? Not so fast, Mr. Crowley. It still takes a rock snob to fill up an MP3 player or iTunes with that rare outtake, that forgotten live recording or that acoustic version sung with wrong words. Most middle-of-the-road listeners do not really care for them. At least not till it appears on a Volkswagen or Apple commercial. (Grrr.. those fucktards!)
Michael Crowley complains of being able to summon any rare track online, but if it is already available online, how much of a rarity can it be? As the sheer quantity of recorded music grows older and bigger, there is a stronger case for the obsessive-compulsive collectors who can spot that gem.
Short story long, rock snobs don't die, they are just re-released in a new format.These Secretive Guardians of Musical Eclectica who once scrounged vinyl stores were scrounging Napster in '99 (ah, that all-too-brief summer) and they are now scrounging blogs, flash memory sticks and hard drives.
Sidenote: Any rock snobs in Bombay who can tell me if the vinyl sellers in Fort (near the Bata store) are still around? (To be honest, their catalog was hardly rare stuff, but still, it was on vinyl.)