Over at The Morning News my colleague Dan Nester has an essay about the infamous Rock Critical List. I highly recommend it, as it explores how dismally screwed-up the world of writing about music has become in some circles. It made me recall that, at bottom, music writing really is irrelevant to the process of making good, innovative music. I have to admit, though, that I was somewhat relieved that some of my current favorite music writers didn’t appear in the screed. Nick Tosches and Robert Palmer escaped mention, though Lester Bangs got a little mud on him, but Lester probably wouldn’t much care. I think Tosches and Palmer do their best work as cultural critics and researchers, unearthing the wider historical contexts for certain performers and genres to tell a fuller story. It is a perspective that avoids the insularity and self-aggrandizing insiderism so much periodical music writing. Also in the piece, the blogosphere takes an overly-generalized slap for being a hotbed of amateur music writing that’s supposedly diluting the whole enterprise. No doubt most can name a few sites and blogs that can stand counter to that whitewash, so there’s always hope in the morass. Like most writing, music writing succeeds when it honestly explores and seeks to understand its subject. Something to shoot for, anyway.