What ever happened to the Blank generation?
"What I wrote I published myself
. After all, who would want to miss out completely on the happy social intercourse of late night cut-and-paste sessions? Real cuts, real paste and no computers back then."
the mento museum
one sly mongoose
Song Aversion determined as emblematic of people's characters dept.
"I hate a song that makes you think that you're not any good. I hate a song that makes you think you're just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody, no good for nothing. Because you're too old or too young, or too fat or too thin, or too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or songs that poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or your hard travelin'.
"I'm out to fight these kinds of songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I'm out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world, and if it's hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter how hard it's run you down and rolled over you, no matter what color you are, what size, how you are built; I'm out to sing the songs that will make you take pride in yourself. And take pride in your work."
Who said that? Guess, then go to charles deemer's reflections of a working writer
song selection determined as emblematic of people's characters dept.
More details drifting out on music being in harmony with personality
The question that may never be answered: Just how many of the 3,500 subjects interviewed described themselves as being "intelligent", especially when reflected by their choice in music?
(Via scribble, scribble, scribble
Orwell asserted six axioms for writing
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
He also wrote, “Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase…into the dustbin where it belongs.” That’s a fight worth fighting.
* * * * * * * * * * *
This just in dept.
A reader miffed with a writer's music review (if it were mine, I'd say so) enclosed a link as a possible home-study aid together with the definition for "explication". As the techniques of literary criticism can lend themselves to music criticism, this is one to explore:
(Just exchange the phrase "close reading
" for "close listening", and hopefully there will be some "deep writing". Some critical jargon does not translate straight across; the concept of "texture" is used a bit differently in music criticism. Still, a valid reminder of how to go about things sometimes.)
The Heat Is On sub-section
Canada's music zine Exclaim! bravely explores The Outer Reaches of the Blogosphere
wherein their Martin Turenne decides these "Online Diaries Are Vain, Silly and Essential" for the ongoing health of music journalism, and name checks some famous music critic blogs in the process)
* (blink!) *(blink!) * (blink!)*(blink!) * (blink!)* (blink!)*(blink!) *(blink!) *(blink!) *
This next news makes me especially happy! Live, from the blogosphere, it's:
Simultaneously, in the confusing atmosphere of the cyberether, our beloved rockcritics goes into a daily version, (poise your finger on your mouse and prepare to click into your favorites bookmarks). Scott Woods promises to provide "music criticism news gossip patter backslapping backstabbing lists filler zzzzz"
and likewise namechecks famous music critics in his June 27 inaugural post.
Summer non-fiction reading advisos from the Guardian
Do You, Mr Jones? edited by Neil Corcoran (Pimlico, £10)
"Something is happening here / But you don't know what it is, / Do you, Mister Jones?" sang Bob Dylan in 1965. Braving the charge of proving him still correct, a gaggle of academics and poets has contributed critical essays to this volume. One earnest piece contains the pseudoanalytic claim: "The majority of the songs on Time Out of Mind confirm the picture of an alienated observer locked into his own obsessive pattern of social withdrawal"; another begins with the alarming statement: "I have characterised Dylan's many references to the railroads in his songs according to the schema of Wolfgang Schivelbusch, the cultural historian of train travel..." While the academics pretend the songs are just texts, the poets think of sound and effect. Lavinia Greenlaw discusses the useful laziness of Dylan's phrasing; Simon Armitage recounts his gradual conversion but wonders why Joni Mitchell isn't "on the syllabus" too. Best is Paul Muldoon, who just writes a poem. SP
More summer season must reads:
black music and ivory towers
(Yes, you'll have to register, but it's worth it to read this review on a new book by Mark Anthony Neal).
Science and modern living dept
Coming live from your brain, your musical tastes.
music mirrors your mind
Yes, healthology today informs that you've all been unwitting subjects in somebody's
six-part psychological study on what tastes in music reflect about the personality.
Part seven of the subject study: Why it seems some people's taste in music is located only in their mouths.
More dedication to a single song (with a website of research):
That bad man, Stackolee
Kenan Hebert borrows a page from Michaelangelo Matos and learns to glue himself in a chair for 45-minutes to listen and write about music, with his essay on the compiled music on an old cassette, C-90
If enough writers devote 45-minutes to writing about music, no telling where they'll end up taking us.
There might be more articles like this Letter from New Orleans #13 from Rob Wagner
detailing his fascination with the mystique of a single song, St. James Infirmary.
Writing books about music dept.
When trying to draw the big picture, many times a book is called for, which allows others to talk about music while writing about the book.
Good look at where Hip-hop came from and where it's going: Hip-hop intellectuals
And The Atlantic Monthly sounds off on rock and roll
Learn about Okinawa pop music from Riccin
Nice series on different approaches to creativity in music
(great learning tool courtesy of the Regents of the University of California)
Support your local and international music dept
From the Voice of America: Did you know that June is National Accordion Awareness Month
Think accordions are dorky instruments? Heard Clifton Chenier?
Environmental hazards dept
From Joyce Carol Oates: "Writer's block is the temporary paralysis caused by the conviction, on an unconscious level, that what the writer is attempting is in some way fraudulent or mistaken or self-destructive."
Slightly pricked and bleeding, the sturdy sort at Rocktober
posted a link to it anyway:
College Radio DJ Thinks He Has Cult Following
New music magazine sub-section
(no, not that Skyscraper). This one's a dreamchild from Denver.
(I wrote a rant in '99)
I feel like a poetry slam, or just singing a song with that new Afro-Celt group, fresh out of Poland, the Aronaberries:
“Nobody Else Is Doing Anything, So Why Should I?”
Forget everything you’ve heard about the beebees or the mindless bougeoisie
Let’s get way, way down now and do the yuppie drivel bop
We’ll take my Audi TT
And talk of Testarosas
As we blaze down the freeway
Like we saw in motion pictures
I’m a telegenic girl
With my photogenic guy
When we get to the hop
I know just what to do
I jump out of the car
Without using the door
I’ll toss my keys
Towards the striped vest
“It’s the mock two-door.”
He snatched the keys right from the air.
Quick eye-hand man
And palm extended prompted me for more
The “valet” can catch a keyring but not on or up
We might laugh about him later
Over our imported water
Seven bucks an hour in a million dollar place
Seven bucks a pop for twizzled Perrier
It’s like fast cars through Harlem
Like Scotty’s cruise to Chinatown
A steady stream of one-upping
Bunny-hopping yuppie thing
Repeating quick one-liners that he heard
From a deejay or a veejay
Dreamed up by some background clown
Before it filtered down
They’d have fallen over to tell me
If I had bothered to ask
The raducchio’s fresh from harvest
Speeded by DirectXpress
From “El Socorro’s Numero Diez y Uno Mucho Exploito-Organic Farm”
Where the Yap without a green card
Clips eye-appealing frou frou at the crack of dew-filled dawn
Six bucks an hour in a million dollar place
Eleven bucks a pop for the exotic mixed greens plate
We can laugh about her later
Over our “import” arugala
I mean, Gaggia me with a spoon!
I want me a Yuppie clown juice
That’s right! “One Raspberry Lager here.”
What’s the latest foodstuff, just listen to the music
I recognized a Son and then a cha-cha-cha
“And one cubano, please”
Listen! I know that lead-in, sounds like Boringa!
There’s some kind of norteno wheezing through the perforations in the mini-speakers now
Listen now, they’re gonna start to sing-a
(Boringa, Boringa, Boringa ...
We’re just another Tex-Flex Band ...
Absorbing all the words and rhythms...
That we sponge up throughout the land ...
We squeeze “puta mujeres” into our lyrics ...
Because we think you’ll understand ...)
“The big bass guy purpled his hair
With beets when he played in a punk-rock band”
“Take a look over at the bar
They’re doing Torino slams”
“Whoa, babes, soak it to me!”
“I’m complex, I’ve done much more than you
And if you knew me at all, you’d know I’m more interesting, too
Hello, Heinrich Boll would clue you
We’re just the sum of what we do
These are called experiences, it’s a collectivity kind of thing.”
And I e.s.p. the clues
He needs a cigar to match the dots on his tie
Maybe I’ll get him a handsewn shirt, triple-stitching on the cuffs,
A pale cream silk yellow like they did in Portobello
We can say what we want to whoever we please
We’re tongue fu warriors and we can lick them with a tease
“You look great since you started working out”
(“Oh, that’s actually his wife’s money”)
“I really love your shoes”
Take a deep mental breath and get ready to go real renaissance on them
Spell it out for them in those big blank alphabet blocks
It's their fast-talking compressed syllable sound byte world spinning fast, then fast some more
Fast, fast, fast, fast, fast and I mean fast!
Full to the brim with fast-talking, quick-clipping, busy-paced guys and dolls
Who can’t waste their and don’t have time for “this”
(“That pancake foundation when applied with a puttyknife really disguises the crowsfeet”)
“You have such bright little eyes”
(“He uses such bad language when he’s coding, it’s like he forces constant downgrades”)
“Oh, that’s such bad art you do, it’s potentially harmful to the viewer”
I’ll be your chunky monkey to your cherry garcia, babe
You my sweet Wussy-Boy and I’ll be a Wussy-Boy’s girl
Together, we can rule the world
I’m a photogenic girl
And you’re my telegenic guy
Nobody’s smarter than anyone else now
And each person just more important than the next
Let’s esteem our desires above the rest
I’ll run interference for you
And we’ll survive any test
We’ll have insulation with the highest R-factor rating
We’ll have intercoms on the security gates
We’ll have guards in humbers patroling the estate
We’ll have answering machines to screen our calls
We’ll have flat tv screens hung on our walls
We’ll have satellite dish with the sound turned down
We’ll have furnishings in Italian shades of light vogue brun
We’ll have a lap pool and a water feature so far above the ground
We’ll have to drown ourselves in realistic sense-surround sound
We’ll have to wonder should we bother to even educate the young
We’ll have to ponder how the Cassini will eventually go wrong
We’ll have to laugh when some gangsters finally get the bomb
We’ll never rent new movies, each one’s worse than the last
We’ll play our new DVD DEVO, an old song, “Big Mess”
(“Big mess, we’re a big mess, we’re in a big mess, it’s a really big mess...”)
More trouble in paradise dept.
A belated visit to TOT
and I was all brought up to date (at least as of the June 6 hub-bub) on more of the perils of writing a negative review.
This piece on Grumpy Old Men
caused a reaction from the publicist who called the writer's editor, who reacted by contacting the writer, who had to defend his actions.
Though mostly weird and some normal
, he can hurl a few well aimed observations with the best of them:
"The problem here is not that the review was circulated (and continues to be circulated). The problem, clearly, is that a negative review is being circulated, while all the Big-Name Rock Rags are weighing in with their blowjob reviews and fawning features. The problem is that the unanimity sought, at great label expense, has been disrupted. I am not "on message," and that's a problem.
"This is what has been pissing me off more and more about writing about music for a living. This belief on the part of publicists that writers are all supposed to line up to suck their clients' cocks. If that's what they want, they can write the fucking reviews themselves. I can now add the Elektra Records publicity department, Metallica's division of it in particular, to the list of publicists who hate me. They can get in line behind John Scofield's people, Diana Krall's people, and Tom Waits's people. And they can all go suck a tailpipe.
"I don't write for Entertainment Weekly or Spin or Vanity Fair. I write for magazines and newspapers that are not uniformly besotted with celebrities -- magazines and newspapers that allow me to state my honest opinion in print. Those opinions are often positive, but sometimes they're negative. But that's not the point. The point is, I resent being held to the standards of Vanity Fair and Entertainment Weekly and Spin. I resent being expected to suck up to big-name acts. And I don't see the situation getting better. It seems like it's getting worse. I may be frozen out entirely soon, or reduced to writing only about minor, no-name figures where the consequences of a bad review (in terms of publicist wrath) are minimal.
"At that point, I don't know what I'll do. Maybe I'll turn to fiction full-time. Whatever. All I know is, I'm gonna keep writing reviews that state what I actually think about bands. And if their publicists don't like it, they can jump under the fucking subway for all I care."
Makin' a list, and checkin' it twice dept.
Today, Peter Carlson of the Washington Post
makes a list of (what else) lists when taking a glance at a new publishing habit called Lists, From Naughty to Nice
wherein he tells us to forget the short story, the essay, the poem, celebrity profile, or even the eye candy pieces.
"Let the record show that the reigning genre in contemporary American magazines is . . . The List."
He invites you to go to any newsstand and check out the magazine covers if you don't believe him. But he's especially snarky about music lists (ooh, me, too, Peter; I'm just not so out about it). He sneers at Blender
's (ooh, etc.) recent lists:
"33 Things You Should Know About Busta Rhymes" and "33 Things You Should Know about Missy Elliot" and "33 Things You Should Know About Metallica" (Blender, various recent months). Instead of writing profiles, the folks at Blender, the Maxim-spawned music mag, just collect 33 random facts about a celebrity. Hey, guys, if you can't write maybe you should leave journalism and seek honest work."
he berates Spin
twice for their 'Ultimate List Issue' (Spin, April 2003). Which he calls "A list-lover's dream: 100 lists about sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. My favorites included "Seven Rock Stars With Bad Teeth" and "Six Things Found in Elvis' Stomach When He Died." After 100 lists, you'd think Spin's editors would have sated their appetite. Nope. This month's cover story: "75 Sleazy Moments in Rock."
Wanna read more on Peter Carlson's list of lists
(You'll have to register first).
OK, it's a perceived trend and it's likely a true observation -- the publishing industry does seem to be list crazy, and that includes lists about music.
do these music magazines do it?
I don't care why those other magazines do it -- the point is, I can do it and so can you.
Here's my list without benefit of a signifying title so all context is stripped. Tell me what this list represents to you (and give it a snappy eye-catching title that actually describes the list, not something clever like "Three Chords and a Half-Truth"):
1. 1977 David Bowie - "Heroes"
2. 1977 Greg Kihn - "Madison Avenue"
3. 1977 Garland Jeffreys - "Wild in the Streets"
4. 1978 Devo - "Satisfaction"
5. 1978 Warren Zevon - "Werewolves of London"
6. 1979 Talking Heads - "Life During Wartime"
7. 1980 Blondie - "Call Me"
8. 1980 Grace Jones - "Love Is the Drug" (reinvents Roxy Music's 1975 hit)
9. 1980 Ultravox - "Sleepwalk"
10. 1981 Joan Jett - "Crimson & Clover"
11. 1982 Devo - "Big Mess"
12. 1982 Philip Glass - "Koyaanisqatsi"
13. 1983 Kool & the Gang - "Tonight"
14. 1984 The Cars - "You Might Think"
15. 1984 David Bowie - "Cat People"
16. 1984 Pretenders - "My City Was Gone"
17. 1985? Frankie Goes to Hollywood - "Relax"
18. 1986 Prince - "Kiss"
19. 1987 Prince - "U Got the Look"
20. 1989 Great White - "Once Bitten Twice Shy" (Ian Hunter's 1975 hard rock hit)
21. 1989 B-52's - "Love Shack"
22. 1989 Lou Reed - "Busload of Faith"
23. 1996 DJ Shadow - "What Does Your Soul Look Like? (Pts. 1 & 4)"
24. 1999 Madonna - "Beautiful Stranger"
25. 2001 Charlie Musselwhite - "Charlie's Old Highway 51 Blues"
26. 2001 Nicolai Dunger - "Dr. Zhivago's Train"
Hone your chops dept
From Poynter: Interviewing: the ignored skill
(via the fine folks at musicjournalist
Born to lose dept:
This splendid investigative piece tracing the career of a hatecore artist
should get wider coverage and win something from AAN this year.
music from other places dept
"Even if the words are just a simple love song or whatever, it's politically loaded, which is not the case for foreign listeners. Heaps of people overseas are really fascinated by the sound and the feeling of this music. And it doesn't matter if those people, or Pakeha at home, don't understand the words. Music is music - it transcends those things.
"... To me that's fantastic. People from all over the world are hearing our stories. Sure, they have to read the translations to understand them, but the important thing is these are special stories that couldn't be told by people from everywhere else."
how music ignored locally can become a hit globally
more critics on critics dept.
Mavis Beckles has an opnion on everything: "Criticise, but don’t pull down"
"YOU WOULD REMEMBER me telling you last week that I was going to continue talking ’bout the many things happening in Barbados that does really make you feel like screaming or lambasting somebody? The things that does mek ya sick. Anyway, you know just what I mean. The many things that does make ya blood boil.
"Now c’dear, I ain’t saying that ya shouldn’t criticise, but my Lord, man, that ain’t criticism. That is castigation. That is destroying. That is killing off, that is dissing, that is dehumanizing, man. ... Criticise, but don’t demoralise, people.
"Ting, them things ain’t right, and the next time I clap my two eye pon that Harold Hite, I gine lay a very serious complaint ’bout the kinda people he got writing fuh he paper."
critics on critics dept
You Are There: 'it's not where you're from it's where you're at'
Hip-hop spreads around the world ...
a new buzzword "glocalization" gains favor in print.
There's more to hip-hop than just that that
as you'll read in "Rapping All Over the World
(wherein the reviewer also takes a few interesting side trips around the hip-hop planet: warning that an extensive examination can sometimes kill the subject while generally assuming a benign attitude toward cultural studies).
critics on critics dept
You should have been there
Laura Thompson reviews The Sound and the Fury: Forty Years of Classic Rock Journalism
ed by Barney Hoskyns
There is something oddly touching about this book. So much youthful passion burns within its prose: it reeks of the heady sweat of pop concerts, of joints smoked while listening to guitar solos in delicious, tortured solitude, of beer spilled beneath frenetic feet.
It is a labour of love produced by the writer and editor Barney Hoskyns, who has collected 30 articles spanning 40 years in rock music. They cover subjects such as The Beatles' conquest of America, the birth of punk and the death of Kurt Cobain, as well as interviews with Madonna, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan and others. The authors include Will Self, Greil Marcus, Charles Shaar Murray and the punk goddess Caroline Coon.
Diverse though this collection may seem, almost every article shares the same compulsion. With one or two exceptions, such as Nick Hornby's knowing little essay on Abba, they are all written by fans. However much the writers may strain after cynicism or maturity or irony, they don't fool me: inside they are dancing with the same inexpressible joy felt by Shaar Murray when he watched Eric Clapton live at The Rainbow in 1973: "God damn, you should have been there."
Fans take themselves seriously - Shaar Murray does not expect you to laugh at him when he writes that Clapton "really was sump'n else". Above all, fans like to collect. The Sound and the Fury is a book for those who want to possess, in some tangible form, a sense of their elusive past. It reminded me of the ineffably moving stack of Rugby World magazines that my brother used to keep in his bedroom. In that sense, the writing in the book is not really the point: which is perhaps just as well, since its subterranean passions tend to be more powerful than the prose that they produce.
For rock journalism - like its subjects - does not necessarily age with dignity. An essay by the Rolling Stone writer Michael Lydon about the 1967 Monterey festival contains this, for example, about Jimi Hendrix: "The act became… an orgy of noise so wound up that I felt that the dynamo that powered it would fail and fission into its primordial atomic state." Impossible to doubt Lydon's aching sincerity, his desperate urge to convey barely describable emotions. Equally impossible not to feel that the intervening years have rendered the writing banal (except, of course, to fans).
Nor is rock journalism necessarily better when it is retrospective, analytical. The Sound and the Fury contains an essay about Altamont written by David Dalton in 1999 - 30 years after the event. Altamont was the black antithesis to Monterey: the festival at which a young man was knifed to death by Hell's Angels while the Rolling Stones played Sympathy for the Devil. Dalton attended Altamont, and he does evoke some of the horror of the night: "The chaos and terror are so pervasive that few people actually notice the murder; it's just another bone-crushing skirmish among a hundred others." His "mature'' overview, however, reads as if it were still written under the influence of illegal substances. "As we all drifted away from Altamont that night, everyone who was there knew it was the end of that kind of event for ever... We had used up all the unreasonable cosmic-radical anticipations for another hundred years…"
The passions aroused by rock music are deep, exquisite and lasting. Yet at the same time, they are ephemeral, protean, defiant of analysis. No pop artist of the past 40 years is more intelligent and self-aware than Bob Dylan, but the nature of his genius is still too fragile to sustain the weight of words that has been heaped upon it. Hence the problem of writing and reading about rock music; except in the intensely present tense, or perhaps in a realm beyond journalism, where this book does not go.
For all its armour-plated literacy, Will Self's 1995 Observer interview with Morrissey brought back helpless thoughts of the precious private communion that I once had with The Smiths, who were the sound of my youth as surely as Jimi Hendrix was the sound of Michael Lydon's. Twenty years on, the feelings aroused by that sound are exactly the same. It is just that everything else has changed. Perhaps, in the end, it is that sad, beautiful, inevitable dislocation which makes rock music so hard to write about.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2003. Terms & Conditions
dissecting the critic's prose
There is something oddly touching about this book. So much youthful passion burns within its prose ...
It is a labour of love
Diverse though this collection may seem, almost every article shares the same compulsion.
they are all written by fans.
However much the writers may strain after cynicism or maturity or irony, they don't fool me:
inside they are dancing with the same inexpressible joy
Fans take themselves seriously
Above all, fans like to collect.
for those who want to possess, in some tangible form, a sense of their elusive past.
For rock journalism - like its subjects - does not necessarily age with dignity
the intervening years have rendered the writing banal (except, of course, to fans).
Nor is rock journalism necessarily better when it is retrospective, analytical
The passions aroused by rock music are deep, exquisite and lasting.
Yet at the same time, they are ephemeral, protean, defiant of analysis.
Hence the problem of writing and reading about rock music; except in the intensely present tense, or perhaps in a realm beyond journalism, where this book does not go.
the sound of my youth
Twenty years on, the feelings aroused by that sound are exactly the same
It is just that everything else has changed.
Perhaps, in the end, it is that sad, beautiful, inevitable dislocation which makes rock music so hard to write about.
From Charles Sawyer's "Blues with a Feeling"
Never Be The Same Again
"Ask a serious music lover what started him/her on a life filled with the particular sounds that move, soothe, excite, incite him/her, and you are likely to hear about an exact moment in life when a new kind of music reached his/her ears for the first time. It might be the sound of a cello playing Bach's Suites For Cello; it might be the mellow sound of a saxophone played by Lester Young or Johnny Hodges, or the keening sound of a sitar, the wail of Bulgarian Baba, or the gentle sighing of a Dobro guitar. Whatever the particular sound the experience is always one of hearing a voice so distinctive and compelling it seems to be meant exclusively for the listener. You feel that this voice is speaking just to you in a language of the soul. Once you hear that voice speaking to you, you are never the same again.
"I remember such a moment with stark clarity. It was a Sunday evening in the winter of 1965/1966. I was driving on the Connecticut Turnpike, returning to Yale University where I was in graduate school. A song with a sound unlike any I had ever heard came on my car radio and put me in a kind of trance. The song was "Born In Chicago," and the sound was an amplified harmonica. The next day I went to the record store and bought the album, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band."
(Charles Sawyer provides his thoughts on the Butterfield Band. Yes, the Butterfield Band were giants in their day and everyone knew it. If you feel an urge, then be submerged in Blues with a Feeling.)
"But filling up iPods, hard drives, or jewel case racks full of new CDs before you've had time to fully enjoy and soak-in your current batch only robs you of the experience. Enjoy what you have now. Play your CDs or small batch of mp3s as often as you can. Repeat until they become a bookmark of now - this sliver of time in your life. Years from now, you'll have a cache of vivid memories wrapped around every note, lyric, and album cover."
A fascinating series of reminiscences on how it is less is more
. (Many insightful comments stacking up there in response on why too much music might be a bad thing.)
(via The Minor Fall, the Major Lift
"One day as I was listening to it, I heard a symphony orchestra perform Mozart's 'Serenade K. 525' ('Eine Kleine Nachtmusik'). I ran excitedly through the rooming house and begged all of our neighbors to come and hear this wonderful music."
Music this beautiful is something to share