The Dinosaur Jr. boys have been playing 1988's Bug in its entirety the last few days. Turns out, it’s not because the landmark LP holds a special place in frontman J Mascis’ heart. In fact, he recently revealed that it kind of makes him cringe in multiple interviews:
"It’s kind of like, it has bad connotations to me, I don’t really like it that much. It’s like my least favorite album. It just reminds me of a bad time, and then the band falling apart."
This is both a crazy revelation and a keen insight into the relationship of art and artist. Most folks these days seem to think musicians somehow plop out records into the ether, becoming abstract and detached entities with their own intrinsic value aside from who the artist is and how/why/when/where said artist created the art. It’s almost like people see the art gaining personhood upon being pushed out of the creative womb.
The reasons for this approach are various and sundry — and a discussion for a different day. The important part here, though, is that it’s wrong. Bam.
Granted, the way we relate to art might not be the same way the artist relates to the art. However, the point isn’t that we relate to the art as much as it is that we relate to the artist. The art is simply the medium for discourse. And that means it can’t be separated in any way, shape or form from the person squeezing it out.