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Stone Throwing

September 03, 1988

Robert Hilburn objecting to Rolling Stone's "100 Best Singles of the Last 25 Years" as arbitrary and unfair ("Rolling Stone Snubs Early Rock Stars," Aug. 27)? That's the most egregious hypocrisy I've seen since Jimmy Swaggart damned Jim Bakker for adultery.

In the first place, who coughs up list after list in the pages of The Times: the Top 10 "alternative" singles of the last six months, the records to spend $25 on each month, and endlessly more?

Given that Hilburn frequently spends nearly as much time describing the ground rules of his lists as talking about the music on them, he must know as well as anyone that a list without parameters is meaningless. So why decry what some other writers set up as their boundaries? Don't people typically seek nice round numbers?

Second, rock did indeed undergo an important metamorphosis somewhere around 25 years ago. Call it 1963 or 1964: right after the Kennedy assassination, with the coming of new energy from England and the awakening consciousness of the holdovers from the folkie movement, popular music became a much more vital part of young people's lives. So, though the choice of 25 years may be nothing more than a convenient hatrack, it is a reasonable cutoff nevertheless.

Finally, let's keep a perspective on what we're discussing. A magazine conducted a poll and printed the results. Period. Rolling Stone is not the keeper of the gates to Music Heaven, nor are its readers likely to purge their collections of records that didn't make the cut.

At the very least, Rolling Stone has provoked a lot of thought and reminiscences about several decades worth of great music.

BOB NICCUM

Buena Park

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