A friend and I were joking on the subway platform the other morning that the Robert Plant & Alison Krauss album was probably market-tested and produced with a group of NPR yuppies having a dinner party in the studio to determine just the right mix. It's just that kind of album, a tastefully antiqued Crate & Barrel-quality production for the living room environment, featuring two tried-and-true legends of the upwardly mobile demographic. (I imagined producer T-Bone Burnett having one of those "smooth" knobs on the mixing board, like in episode #9 of Yacht Rock.) Fittingly, the best song on the album, "Killing the Blues," was used in a Target commercial, which I first heard during the Super Bowl. And yet, as difficult as it is to give myself over to the publicity and marketing cycle of a popular phenomenon aimed directly at me, I can't help myself: I am the target and the Plant-Krauss arrow has struck dead center. I love everything about the record, especially the Target tune. The slow, languid atmospherics and porcelain harmonies, the Al Gore earth tones Whole Foods production quality, the way it turns my living room into a soft, cottony, candle-lit hideaway far from the madness of workaday life. It's a really good album.
This might not seem like a big revelation, but for one whose musical world view was built on the defunct late-20th-Century indie-DIY-hippie-punk model of anti-capitalist "authenticity" and "integrity," it's been hard to accept my slow-but-sure devolution into the Dad Rock category. It's like waking up one day and realizing you've qualified for Medicare. I suppose the tipping point -- and I even hate that phrase, coming as it does from the Crate & Barrel intellectual of our time, Malcolm Gladwell -- was my acceptance of the simulacrum rock of Fleet Foxes and all the other Millennial-generation folk-rock precision re-creators. But whatever. You can't stop the future. So here I am, Professional NPR Yuppie Dad Rocker rocking my Plant-Krauss download from iTunes and just flowing into the 21st Century like a streaming video. I'm letting go. I celebrate myself. Hear my white wine glass clink!
"Killing the Blues" - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
(Editor's Note: I found the above photo by Googling "intimate dinner party")