Patrick Carney

An Open Letter to Patrick Carney of the Black Keys

Patrick CarneyHey, Patrick. It’s Dave. No, we’ve never met, but we’ve got a lot in common. We’re both kind of tall and incredibly nearsighted, and have a habit of saying all kinds of stupid shit. But I’ve got about 10 years on you (although some around here would have you believe it’s more than that), and I like to think I’ve learned a little bit from experience, and would like to pass some of that on to you. Are you ready?

Please shut up.

We Have The Same Optician

We Have The Same Optician

Yeah, it was kind of dumb for TMZ to ask you about Justin Bieber after your big haul at the Grammys last week, but that’s what they do. And you didn’t do yourself any favors with your answer. A simple, “No comment” would have sufficed, as it should be any time a reporter asks you to comment on something you don’t like. Granted, your answer was kind of innocuous, and hardly the most obnoxious thing you’ve ever said, but come on, what are you trying to prove?

Why go after Bieber? As with Nickelback, another act you’ve unnecessarily slammed, it’s too easy a target. Yeah, he sucks and he’s managed to stay famous for a little longer than most teen stars, but as a student of pop history you should know by now that there’s always been a place – and a need – for his kind on the charts, and that his fame isn’t going to last. Besides, your audiences don’t intersect, so his success hasn’t come at your – or any other “real” rock band’s – expense. So let him have his fun before he inevitably joins the long list of Teen Idols Past.

And what’s with tweeting back at Bieber’s fans? Anybody with a smidgen of knowledge in public relations knows that when you lower yourself to your audience, you lose. Again, what are you trying to prove, that a 32-year old man can outwit a bunch of pre-pubescent girls? Mission accomplished. Mazel Tov.

Look, the reason teen idols lose their audience so quickly is because their audience grows out of that stage with a vengeance. Hell, I remember my older sisters plastering pictures of Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett all over their bedroom walls in the mid-70s, and a year or two later their names were never spoken again. But they didn’t stop listening to music, they just gravitated towards something else.

So, to bring this to the present day, when today’s teenage girls eventually grow out of their Bieber phase, what are they going to want to listen to?


The only problem is that, by being a first-class douchenozzle to them, you’re guaranteeing that they’re not even going to want to check you out. To put that in terms a raging capitalist like yourself can understand, you’re robbing yourself of potential future market share. And you can’t keep being the rock god that you’ve so desperately wanted to be without maintaining a female audience.


Chris Robinson, Keeping It Real

When I heard about your feud, the first thing that popped into my mind was this picture of the Black Crowes on the cover of the August 1991 issue of Q magazine. Take a look at the shirt Chris Robinson is wearing.

“New Kids Suck.”

I’m sure Robinson, like you, thought that he was striking a blow for true-blue rock n’ rollers with such a bold declaration against wimpy teenybopper poseurs. But fast-forward 22 years, and both the Black Crowes and New Kids on the Block are basically doing the same thing, milking their nostalgia for all that they can.

One of the things I genuinely admire about you guys is that you’re unapologetic about your desire to be the biggest band around. For the past 20 years or so, rock n’ roll has needed guys who, first and foremost, want to be rich rock stars. It’s been way too long since we’ve had a new, true swaggering rock god, and you and your partner have made no bones about your desire to join the ranks.

Patrick Carney As A Young Boy

Patrick Carney As A Young Boy

And you’ve managed to make it happen even though you look like the best friend from The Wonder Years all grown up. Why? Because you worked your asses off, playing anywhere that would have you. You deserve complete and full credit for that. Oh, and also by whoring out your songs for more than 300 commercials, movies, and video games.

Now, I get that’s how the game’s played these days and, truth be told, I’m fine with that, although there was a time when I wasn’t. But my point is that you’re hardly the model of artistic integrity. Bruce Springsteen, you ain’t. So by saying Bieber’s “rich, right? Grammys are for, like, music, not for money. . . . He’s making a lot of money. He should be happy,” you come across as kind of a hypocrite. Especially if you’re taking potshots at one piece of dimwitted pop culture ephemera one day and being photographed with another the next.

Besides, it’s not even like your music is so special and innovative. I mean, I’ve got a couple of your albums and I like them enough. But when you boil it down, your songs are just some old, familiar blues riffs with a radio-friendly sheen on them. It’s fine, but it’s ultimately disposable. So while you may want to be this generation’s Rolling Stones, the reality is that you’re this generation’s Foghat.

In other words, your feuds are as recycled as your riffs.

You’re in for the slow ride, Patrick. Take it easy.

  • Ted

    If The Black Keys are this generation’s Foghat, what does that make Green Day? They recycle riffs a LOT more than The Black Keys.

  • dslifton

    Good question. You need to find a second-tier punk band, not the Ramones or the Clash, but a band that formed in their wake and were clearly followers. I was thinking the Jam, but that would be an insult to Weller.

  • Race Baker

    People need to start speaking out against these pop stars and the bs industry who use them as pure product with no artistic integrity. If you don’t say anything and keep your “cool”, you’re part of the problem. There is a war on, in case you didn’t know and the good guys have been losing for awhile now. Lines need to be drawn, and truth needs to be told.
    And dude… the Black Keys wipe the floor with anything “Springsteen” ever did. Boring, overrated gut wrencher. There’s only a certain type of personality that appreciates “Springsteen” and it isn’t the good kind. I know that makes no sense to you and you’re snickering to yourself right now, but that’s because you seemingly have no taste anyway.
    And what riffs aren’t ripped off? Zeppelin sure as hell wasn’t coming up with anything new. Ask Willie Dixon or Muddy Waters. I prefer Black Oak Arkansas to Foghat any way. ;) Just be glad there are bands still playing rock that isn’t complete auto-tune radio fodder. You’re much to cynical to understand that someone has to carry the torch.
    Go back to listening to Pavement and being pretentious.

  • JonCummings

    A note for your future commenting pleasure, Mr./Ms. Baker: It’s fine with everybody if you are a big fan of the Keys’ music, and if you don’t care for Springsteen. But you’ll likely find it best not to base your arguments on sweeping generalizations about “taste” and “pretentiousness.” “You seemingly have no taste anyway” is a conversation ender, not a starter, and it’s bad form to impose your own blanket judgments on “taste” at a site like Popdose, where folks take their (good, bad and indifferent) music seriously (if sometimes snarkily). Indeed, while you’re well within your rights to reject Mr. Lifton’s premise, or his comparison of the Keys to Springsteen, your knee-jerk dismissiveness is exactly the kind of closed-minded attitude that Mr. Lifton was arguing against … so thanks for proving his point.

    More than anyone else, professional musicians ought to be smart about the varieties of music fandom — and about the fact that many of the kids who prop up a career like Bieber’s today are going to become the indie-rock fans of tomorrow and the classic-rock fans of next week. Fans in each of those categories often are dismissive of fans in the others, out of loyalty to their fave acts, competitiveness, a misplaced sense of superiority, or whatever. That’s human nature, for some reason. But a fellow artist should know better, particularly when he’s going off half-cocked at fans who someday will be in his own demographic.

    As for you, you’re giving Black Keys fans a bad name. Chill out.

  • Jack Feerick

    “There is a war on, in case you didn’t know and the good guys have been
    losing for awhile now. Lines need to be drawn, and truth needs to be

    [insert the stock Barney Miller speech about keeping one’s perspective]

  • Jonny TFL

    Rule of Rock (RR) #68: Don’t Listen to Anything the Drummer Says. See, generally, Lars Ulrich, Don Henley, Marky Ramone, etc. etc. You’re welcome.

  • The Tide Turns

    Black Keys are the worst band I’ve heard in decades.

  • Stephanie

    I hear what you’re talking about. I hate when musicians get involved in anything else other than music. But his fans aren’t going anywhere. When the screaming girls get older I promise they won’t turn off the Black Keys because of one comment 15 years ago. Justin Bieber has MANY people that can’t stand the fuck out of him. He’s a toolshed for sure. It was pretty smart to gain exposure by taking down one of the most famous teens. And perfect comment.

    “Your songs are just some old, familiar blues riffs with a radio-friendly sheen on them.” Boy go get you some more albums. El Camino was for the radio and a headlining tour, but I think you’d like Magic Potion.


    zep didn’t come w anything knew ,,,,right they pushed blues rock ford fool