The Commerce Journal

May 31, 2012

Court is in session: the great newsroom debates

By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — James Bright and I have been friends since college, where we both worked (and eventually ran) the school newspaper, The East Texan. Now, we both work in the same office in the Herald-Banner. In both newsrooms, we developed a bit of a reputation.

See, James and I have these debates. They’re not really arguments, they don’t get very heated, and no one loses their temper. We just see things differently, and we’re both very well educated when it comes to politics, journalism, sports and music. And we have varying perspectives on both. When we get into it, everyone in the newsroom groans, because these debates usually last for a good 10-20 minutes. What they’re missing, however, is that James and I are engaging in a battle of wits.

See, we have different perspectives. James’ family is from New York, and I’m a seventh generation Texan. James is well above six feet tall, and I stand at about 5 foot 7. James is ethnically Jewish and Eastern European, I’m Christian and German. James is a Yankee fan, I’m a Rangers fan. He hates The Beatles, I love them.

Needless to say, we get into some interesting debates. One of our most recent ones revolves around the British hard rock band Led Zeppelin.

I think Zeppelin is overrated. Now don’t get me wrong- I like Zeppelin. I think that they were one of the most unique and influential bands of the 70s, and I respect them for breaking up after their drummer, John Bonham, died. There are a ton of Zeppelin songs that rock- Dazed and Confused, Kashmir, Whole Lotta Love, Stairway to Heaven, Black Dog, Rock n’ Roll, etc. The list could go on and on.

However, I find that Zeppelin’s albums are inconsistent at best. They stack fantastic songs next to simply terrible ones. Most of the time, Jimmy Page’s intricate guitar work melds well with Robert Plant’s otherworldly wail. But when it doesn’t, the results are barely listenable.

Take, for example, IV. The album starts out with two great tracks, and the fourth track is one of the greatest songs of  all-time (Stairway to Heaven). But right in between these great songs is The Battle of Evermore, which is musical equivalent of having to sit there while someone breaks an egg over your head the yolk drips down your back.

Great bands have great albums, and a major part of having great albums is stringing listenable tracks together throughout the entire album. The only Zeppelin album that is listenable all the way through is their best of, Mothership.

Considering their incredible radio exposure and position in the trinity of great 70s bands (with the Who and Pink Floyd), I think their inconsistency makes them overrated.

James, on the other hand, actually kind of likes The Battle of Evermore. I chalk that up to him being a Yankee.

We also debated about whether Alexander the Great was Roman or Macedonian. I won that one too.