Pop Music Critic Gene Stout
What inspired you?
I grew up loving movies, music, good books, anything creative. At one point,
I wanted to be a novelist like Ernest Hemmingway, J.D. Salinger or John
Steinbeck, whose books I read in junior high. I later combined a love of
fiction writing with my love of music. My grandparents gave me their record
collection around the same time, and I learned a lot about popular music by
listening to music recorded years before I was born. I learned that a great
song and great melody are universal in their appeal, regardless of the era.
Great songs knock me out, whether they’re by Elvis Presley or Fleet Foxes.
What keeps you from working?
Being tired, needing time to recharge. I recharge by doing physical tasks,
which allow me to take my mind off the intense, focused thought needed for
good writing. Writer’s block is a challenge for all writers. In the
newspaper business, we tell ourselves to “lower our standards” when the
perfect phrase doesn’t come to mind and we have to finish a story. But, of
course, when inspiration strikes and you can reach a higher standard of
writing, that’s always a blessing.
What is good, and what is bad?
A great do-it-yourself spirit in all creative fields. A member of Blink-182
once told me early in the band’s career that they didn’t really know how to
play their instruments. And yet they were selling hundreds of thousands of
albums! In time, they got better. But they were still able to connect with
millions of fans by just being themselves. And what is bad? An Internet
culture that deprives creative people, from writers to recording artists, a
fair income because the public has become accustomed to getting everything