Geeta Dayal, Simon Reynolds, and Carl Wilson discuss the new Bowie album on the CBC. (Can’t access this now, will have to listen later. And in other important news, I’m going to break down and give the Bowie album a listen as well.)
Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category
Posted by s woods on March 13, 2013
Posted by s woods on March 1, 2013
Toying with the idea of creating a podcast about The Aesthetics of Rock — a tribute, I suppose you could say, but really, more of an exploration. I have a few ideas in mind, but the likelihood of me pursuing such a thing would increase tenfold if I can find a couple or a few other people to share some of their thoughts with me on the subject (and no, none of this is being done in collusion with the book’s author; for now, I’m primarily interested in talking to readers of the book). I’m leaving this vague on purpose, but If the idea sparks your interest, or you have any questions about what I have in mind, email me. (I suppose you could use the comments box as well, though I may prefer to answer inquiries privately. I’m not saying for sure that this thing will even happen. Though I’d like it to, obviously.)
Posted by s woods on February 21, 2013
Back in January 2010, Alfred Soto and I embarked on a multi-part, many-hours discussion of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music. Well, three years and two Bryan Ferry projects later, we’re back at it, this time joined by fellow music writer (and Roxy/Ferry enthusiast) Ned Raggett. The three of us spend most of the following 85-minute podcast (spliced into three sections) chatting about The Jazz Age, the newly released CD containing Roxy and Ferry covers, performed not by Bryan Ferry (who appears to be but a spectral presence overlooking the entire thing) but rather, by an entity called The Bryan Ferry Orchestra. As well, we take a couple brief detours into Ferry’s 2010 solo album, Olympia. Unremarkably, we lack not for banter.
Thanks, Alfred and Ned–I’m sure we’ll meet again.
Continue after the jump for supplemental reading and listening materials.
Posted by s woods on January 30, 2013
There’s no rhyme or reason, really, to what I’m posting here these days (was there ever?), so forgive me if it seems odd to post a six-year-old podcast I’ve yet to listen to regarding a book I’ve only started reading (and am all of 15 pages into), but… I do intend to follow through on both of these. It’s an interview with Yuval Taylor, co-author (with Hugh Barker) of Faking It: The Quest For Authenticity In Popular Music. The interviewer is Jesse Thorn at “The Sound of Young America.” (I can’t not note this unfortunate description on the site, however: “We discuss [and hear music from] artists including Leadbelly, Nirvana, Neil Young, Woodie Guthrie, the Rolling Stones, Jimmie Rodgers, Donna Summer, Billy Joel and even Jennifer Lopez.” Even Jennifer Lopez? Oh, the horror!)
Posted by s woods on January 6, 2012
Something I’ve said more than once over the years is that the three biggest influences on me among writers are Pauline Kael, Bill James, and Greil Marcus. I consider myself lucky to have had some contact with two of them. I interviewed Marcus back when I first started writing, and he later contributed a few comments to my old fanzine; the past couple of years I’ve submitted the occasional question to the “Hey Bill” section of James’s website, and he’s responded to most of them. Something I often regret, though, is that I never sent any of my writing to Pauline Kael. I’ve primarily written about music the past 25 years, but I wish I’d sent her a piece I wrote about the best uses of pop music in Scorsese’s films—an idea that I bet has been done to death now, but which I think was fairly novel when I wrote it up for Scott’s Popped website in the late ‘90s—or a couple of pieces I did for Cinemascope around the same time, which would have been a couple of years before Kael’s death. I have no idea whether I would have had any success in getting anything to her, whether she would have liked any of it if I had, or even whether she would have bothered reading it in the first place. I’m guessing she was bombarded with stuff on a constant basis and from all directions—from the now infamous Wes Anderson solicitation to see Rushmore, to fan letters and invitations and everything in between.
Letter from Kael arrives in the mail: “Thank you for the Scorsese article, Phil. I don’t know what you’ve got here, young man…”
Wasn’t meant to be. Some consolation arrived this past year by way of A Life in the Dark, Brian Kellow’s biography of Pauline Kael. If you check in regularly with rockcritics.com, you’ll know that Scott recently posted a number of links to reviews of Kellow’s book (sometimes reviewed in tandem with The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael, the third career overview of Kael’s reviews). I’m tempted to say that it’s amazing the amount of interest—often rawly contentious—that Kellow’s book has generated, but I suspect that anyone who has ever strongly felt the pull of Kael’s writing would not be surprised. People have been arguing about Kael since the mid-‘60s; the arguments didn’t stop with her retirement in 1991, and they didn’t stop with her death in 2001. There are a couple of ILX threads devoted to Kael where I’ve been posting the last couple of years, and while (to the best of my knowledge) no one on there ever personally knew Kael, some of the back and forth can get very barbed on occasion. That’s Kael. That readers can still feel so strongly about her in 2011—and I can’t think of another writer I’ve ever argued about so much; a couple of music writers are close—is, to me, the truest barometer you’ll find of just how strong that pull was. (Or, if you aren’t a fan, of how strong your aversion is. Kael’s detractors have always been fierce. But as I say in the accompanying interview, “the circle of people I travel in”—Jesus, where do I come up with this stuff?—is almost exclusively made up of fans.)
Between the message board, Kellow’s book, reviews of the book, and James Wolcott’s Lucking Out (in which Kael figures prominently) on top of all that, I’m a little Kaeled out at the moment, but before I hand it over to Brian, let me say that I think A Life in the Dark is excellent. Its portrayal of Kael did not in any way conflict with my sense of her as a reader (I feel like I have to stress that; some reviews written by friends of Kael’s—some, not by any means all—disagree), and my recognition of her influence on me has deepened. A lot of Kael’s own words make their way into A Life in the Dark via review excerpts, and I liked that: as I wrote on the message board, these excerpts—and the almost month-by-month timeline of the films that caught Kael’s attention—construct a parallel story, the story of American film from the late ‘60s through to the late ‘80s (but American films in the ‘70s especially, which has always been my own frame of reference), that is inseparable from Kael’s. Does Kellow always agree with Kael’s verdict on specific films? No—he’ll sometimes say so. Did I? No. Do I always agree with Kellow’s occasional disagreements with Kael? No. Does any of that detract from the book for me? No. The main thing was that it always felt like I was reading someone who’d been as permanently shaped by the likes of Reeling and Deeper Into Movies as I’ve been, ever since first discovering Kael at some point near the end of high school. There’s an oft-quoted line of Kael’s (a friend has it on the masthead of his blog) from her introduction to For Keeps, one of those earlier career overviews: “I’m frequently asked why I don’t write my memoirs. I think I have.” True—I wouldn’t try to argue that Kael’s body of work did not leave behind a complete world. But I’m still very glad that A Life in the Dark exists.
“One of the most powerful truths to be gleaned from examining Pauline’s life is that it was, throughout its span, a triumph of instinct over an astonishing intellect. Her highly emotional responses to art were what enabled her to make so indelible a mark as a critic. On the surface, it might seem that any critic does the same thing, but it’s doubtful that any critic ever had so little barrier between herself and her subject. She connected with film the way a great actor is supposed to connect with his text, and she took her readers to places they never could have imagined a mere movie review could transport them.”
– A Life in the Dark, Brian Kellow
Listen to Phil’s interview with Brian Kellow:
or… Download [mp3]
Posted by s woods on September 21, 2011
Hard rock critics Phillip Freeman and Jeanne Fury engage in a Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam debate, only to have Vernon Reid (of Living Color, once upon a time a sometime music critic himself) jump into the conversation as well.
Posted by s woods on August 7, 2011
Final quotes and discussion points from EddyFest 2011 (Weingarten/Kogan)
- CE: “What’s weird about Accidental — and it seems like a lot of people like Accidental more than Stairway now — this is a tangent, but — Accidental, a lot of those lists, it’s proto-ILM [a.k.a. I Love Music]. To me it kind of decreases its value over time, it’s just like, ‘oh, I was just doing ILM threads.’ CW: Yeah, where as now you’d have, like, 50 people to help you make it even more thorough.
- “Now the information is on your fingertips, so like, who gives a shit? Back then, it was actually just fun to figure that stuff out… Back in those days, you actually had to listen to music.”
- CE confesses to using Wiki: “You can’t not use it… Everybody’s knowledge becomes everybody else’s knowledge. Which means there’s no secret knowledge, there’s fewer and fewer surprises.”
- CE re: the Cloud: “You know what? I don’t want fucking everything at my fingertips. It was better when it wasn’t at my fingertips… I would rather find something by accident, or hear something accidental over the radio, than be, you know, looking for it and be able to find it in 30 seconds. It takes all the fun out of it. Not all the fun, but it takes a lot of the fun out of it.”
- CW: “We’ve kind of lost the folklore aspect of music” (to illustrate the point, notes the “Eat Me easter egg” in the Licensed to Ill album art, which he was told about well after the fact).
- CW: “What do you do to keep that element of surprise in your listening?” CE: “What do I do? Outside of what I have to do for money, I don’t listen to music on the internet — I just don’t. I live in Austin, there are eight pretty good record stores here, maybe, most of them have dollar bins, there’s a record convention twice a year that has dollar bins, there are garage sales, there are thrift stores… in the car I have my radio on and hear stuff by accident.”
- “I want to walk into a used record store, go to a dollar bin, and see “Shoot the Pump” by J. Walter Negro that Christgau wrote about in his “Additional Consumer News” to the Consumer Guide in 1982, that I’d never seen, and I’m like, holy shit — this is that record. And pay a dollar for it. And it’ll be the best record I’ve heard in the last five years, which it is…. You can still do it, you just have to not fall for everything they’re trying to sell you, I guess. Just because someone creates a need for me, doesn’t mean I have that need.”
- CW: “So, let’s say I were to adopt the accidental method of hearing music. How would I know what chillwave sounds like? CE: Why would you want to? CW: That’s a very good point! But I feel that part of our job is knowing what the discourse is about, and knowing, you know, the things that are defining the sound of now. CE: It’s part of your job if you’re writing about chillwave, for one thing. It’s not part of my job to know…. [discussion then detours into another terrible-sounding genre he'd be better off not kowing much about] what power violence sounds like .. Until I’m assigned a power violence article, I could give a shit what power violence sounds like.”
- CE acknowledges that his perspective in part stems from being “one of the very, very few people in this world lucky enough to get free promos in the mail pretty much every working day for the last quarter century.”
- Good points by CE on why it’s not necessarily important to know what chillwave is, or which chillwave artists matter, if you’re reviewing a chillwave record… “the point is, I’m writing about that record… I don’t even have to pretend chillwave exists!” (CW: “I wish I could pretend it didn’t exist!”)
- CW ends interview by “[lobbing] a softball” — “Have you talked to any of the Beastie Boys since?” CE ponders writing a 25-years-ago-today essay — “hey, maybe I should!” [Heard it here first.]
- How Pere Ubu & Nazareth Brought Frank and Chuck Together at Last: CE asks FK “how we first met”; FK notes it was due to correspondence FK started with CE after reading “Howls From the Heartland: The Untamed Midwest” in the VV (said piece of which is reprinted in RARAF); FK took exception at time to CE saying Pere Ubu “[thought] of themselves as a heavy metal band, and I said, ‘okay, I’m gonna write this guy a letter and set him right!’”
- We Are All Cinderella Now: Randy Montana and the State of Contemporary Country: FK’s favourite RM song, after one listen, is “It’s Gone” in part because the riff reminds him of “Gypsy Road” by “Schoolly-D’s favourite band, Cinderella.” CE responds: “I hear Cinderella in so much modern country that I probably stopped hearing Cinderella.” … FK “really likes” the guitars on the RM album, and notes that “country has kept the guitar as a viable contemporary instrument, and I wouldn’t say that they’re breaking ground, but… if, in let’s say 1969, Jorma Kaukonen or someone like that had done some of those intervals that the guitars were doing on this album, I would’ve said, ‘Wow! That’s damn amazing and innovative.’” … CE and FK affirm mutual belief that (in CE’s words) “this is a really horrible year for country.” … Short riff by CE on hair metal’s affinity with cowboys and with southern rock… CE: “I kind of think that what made country so exciting in the last ten years, it seems like it was “a historic blip, and I just feel like it had to run out.” … FK: “Why Country Sucks: That could be a fanzine!”
- CE and FK on K-Pop: FK notes of one K-Pop outfit (SW not sure who’s being discussed here) that they have “incredible dance routines” (due to performing the song on different TV shows, night after night) — “they make things into an event very well.” … CE would enjoy more K-Pop if he wasn’t chasing down YouTubes and was instead actually listening to LPs of the stuff (“I have to really go out of my way to see stuff… you have to be very active to pick up on that stuff”) … CE’s 3-year old daughter does, however, love E.Via’s “Pick Up U.”
- Just in Case You Were Thinking of Buying the New Night Ranger Album: FK asks CE “what have you been listening to in the last day?” A seemingly startled CE provides capsule review of new NR, which he just listened to in his car: “I really liked the music, I liked the singing, I liked the melodies, I liked the arrangements, but I kind of think the songwriting sucks from beginning to end. So I don’t even think I’m going to end up keeping the record.”
- CE’s Other Recent Listening… includes: New John Waite and Nazareth albums (FK hasn’t heard either). CE: “In the new book, I write about how I kind of left metal to the metalheads, and I don’t really pay attention to it much anymore. But Rhapsody wanted metal to be my specialty, and I basically have contracted to a certain number of hours a month for them.” Via which he has also listened to and enjoyed The Gentleman’s Pistols (from England… “seventies hard rock stuff”) and Cauldron (from Toronto… “early ’80s metal… between really early Def Leppard and really early Metallica, when they were both wearing blue jeans”)… “What’s weird is that I’m actually listening to rock this year.”
- With the Clok Tik-Tokking on Pop: CE: “I say I hate country now, but I hate pop music even more; I kind of don’t give a shit about pop music now, and I feel really bad about that, you know, I feel like I must be missing something, but I don’t know where it is. I mean, I guess it’s in Korea! [laughs]… I can say this is a horrible year for country, but it’s not like it seems like a better year for r&b or pop to me.” FK thinks it’s better than 2009, which was the real disappointing recent pop year for him, and that, following exciting things like “Boom Boom Pow” and “Disturbia” pop “got into a really lame rut, really fast.” CE: “Last year I got excited by Ke$ha, eventually, and the year before I got excited by Gaga, eventually, and… the Far East Movement stuff last year…” CE also notes that he’s “the disco sucks guy now — but maybe this time, ‘disco sucks’ is right, maybe this time disco really does suck…. And I want to love Pitbull.” FK notes there’s “a ceiling” on how good Pitbull will ever be; CE thinks there may be a ceiling on how good any of it will be, including Ke$ha and Lady Gaga.… FK: “Ke$ha’s interesting. My guess is that there’s actually nowhere for her to go, that she’s actually… if she repeats the stuff, she’s ‘repeating the stuff,’ but if she — how much can you do about, like, I threw up in the closet? How many times can you do that? And be the, you know, the kind of hood rat in kind of glitter rags who mingles with the rich and throws up on them? I thought it was a great idea, I think Tom Ewing said this… she sort of found a way to make auto-tune register as feedback…” CE: “Right, she was using it as noise, or whatever…” FK: “But it’s like, so much of it — it’s like ’60s stuff. ’65 through ’68 was astonishing. But so much of that depended on the sounds being new. And the idea of affronting a lot of people, and you can’t sustain that because it all gets accepted, and in some ways it’s now, sort of, the standard part of the palette, so that Randy Montana’s band can do stuff that would’ve affronted people 40 years ago. And now it’s just kind of, you know, these are the colours we’re using, and…” CE: “But Frank, I kind of think you care more about music affronting people than I do. I don’t care if Randy Montana is affronting people.” FK: “No, I don’t either, what I’m saying is that, the music that depends on affronting people is gonna have a time limit, because it just can’t keep working…” CE brings Eminem, Axl Rose, Johnny Rotten, the Beastie Boys, and Courtney Love into it: “They don’t really last that long.” FK: “Punks don’t grow, they stop.” [Lots more good bits in this part, about old people making pop music, self-destruction in pop, etc., but SW's wrist is sore, not from typing but from constantly stopping and starting and rewinding the mp3.]
- CE: “I’m getting tired here, Frank!”
- The Revival of Everything Rock vs. Collage Rock: CE notes that collage = not just Teena Marie but “Wango Tango” by Ted Nugent (and Charley Patton)…. FK draws distinction between ‘collage’ and ‘everything,’ CE calls it a misreading, claims that “maybe everything now” is “everything rock”… “everything rock is no big deal anymore”… CE “really, really, really doesn’t give a shit about Bruno Mars” … CE: “If something like ‘Pump up the Volume’ came on now, I’d probably like it more than anything on the radio, it just seems like it might be more interesting.” Also notes that rock no longer being afraid of dance music or hip-hop didn’t make rock better… CE even down on disco-metal fusion: “It probably ended up happening, and it probably sucked.”
Posted by s woods on August 5, 2011
More quotes and discussion points from EddyFest 2011. Part two: Hurt/Phillips/Bozelka.
- CE confirms with EH that EH wrote for CE at the VV before CE got shitcanned from the VV.
- “I say at the end of the book that almost everything, or definitely more than half, of what I’ve written for the Voice since I’ve left there has been about country, and what that might signify about me being a 50-year old white guy, you know? Just latching on to this music in general. But, yeah… honestly, they’re rock artists, they’re rock artists by the old Bob Seger sense of the term, or the Tom Petty sense of the term. And, in a way, that’s kind of what my country ended up being.” [The "they" being referred to is Montgomery Gentry, K.T. Oslin, and another name mentioned by EH whose name I couldn't pick up.]
- “It’s not like I don’t get mad at Toby Keith or Montgomery Gentry [regarding their politics], but getting mad is… part of the way to get me off is by making me mad sometimes, you know what I mean? In some ways, those two artists especially, it makes me see how complicated they are. I don’t necessarily like them because I disagree with them, but in some ways, part of what makes them interesting is — it’s not disconnected from our disagreements.”
- “What people tend to not pick up on is, I have some Joe Carducci in me, I like the sound of a rock band, a rehearsed rock band, working as a unit, making small unit music, where the instrumentalists are working off each other… Historically, I think, for the most part — even though I’ve always liked songs by the Bay City Rollers and the Sweet that had studio musicians on some of them, that were basically producer records — or Def Leppard, whatever – theoretically, the best way you should be able to make recorded rock music is with a band that is playing it night in and night out, and not just putting in a good day’s work in the studio. But in practise, it doesn’t always work that way. And Montogomery Gentry rocked harder than rock bands did.” [According to CE and EH earlier on, MG are more or less a duo backed by studio pros.]
- “I don’t really understand what happened to commercial rock. I want to say that it got somehow codified, in the wake of grunge, where it became this kind of dreary… The joy was somehow drained out of it, and it became this dreary music… I don’t know why [rock] ended up this way, it’s something I haven’t figured out. But it did.”
- “I want to write interesting things, about stuff. And sometimes — I never write anything I don’t think, or don’t believe, but at the same time, sometimes a more interesting piece might be where I might be… Look, let’s say there’s 20 subjects out there, and let’s say 19 of them, the things that I think are what everybody else, you know, is writing. Well, probably, those won’t make for especially interesting pieces, compared to the one that, um, you know, I might think differently than what a lot of other people are saying.”
- “I don’t have opinions because it’ll piss people off, I have opinions because they’re my opinions, and sometimes my most interesting opinions might happen to piss people off. Period. Okay? That’s the best way I can explain it. Which probably doesn’t explain it at all, but that’s the best way I can…”
- “I try to judge music — I mean, I think I really do, I try and I succeed by judging music by what it does, not by what it’s trying to do. Which I think is one thing that’s confused a lot of people over the years. When I write a review it’s not, ‘they were aiming to do this; did they succeed?’ That’s not what you do in a review. What you do in a review is ‘They did this, it was good or bad because — you know what I mean? They might do something that’s not what they’re trying to do, and they might be really good at something they’re not trying to do. So, maybe they made a really good heavy metal record when they were trying to make a country record — I don’t know, you know.”
- “There’s probably good music critics who are never assholes, but… in my writing, I’m an asshole sometimes, or I used to be, when I was younger and stupid. I’m not anymore. I’m nice now!”
- “If somebody would’ve assigned me a really long Grizzly Bear piece, I guess I probably would have — I probably would have had to force the asshole out of me, you know?”
- AP: “Should anyone become a rock writer now?” CE: “I think it might make more sense than becoming an astronaut. Well, but actually, the space program will become privatized and stuff. But… no, to do it for a career would be ridiculous. It was ridiculous when I did it; it was not the best career choice I could’ve made, and I can’t imagine why it would be a better career choice now. But, on the other hand, you know what, there are people who create content — I’m gonna use these words, and they’re dirty words — there are people who create “content,” you know, and who become part of music discovery startups, and I don’t necessarily consider it part of rock criticism, I actually do a lot of it myself for Rhapsody, but — I shouldn’t say it shouldn’t be a career, because there are people who are ambitious in different ways than I was, who will make good careers out of it. But it seems farther and farther from what I think of as rock criticism.”
[KEVIN JOHN BOZELKA]
- CE informs KJB that he’s “having a beer.”
- KJB asks SW if he can swear. Affirmative.
- CE asks KJB if Daydream Nation is his favourite album of all-time, as so identified in the introduction to the “Predicting the Future” chapter; KJB confirms that it is not but that “it is in my Top 10.”
- CE: “I don’t even know what my favourite album of all-time is; I’m kind of glad no one has asked me that question because I have no idea what I would say.”
- “Lately, in Austin, with all the dollar albums, I’ve kind of been using myself for a consumer guide, which means I’ll go back, and go, ‘Oh, that’s one of the albums in Stairway to Hell that I got rid of 20 years ago! But I must’ve liked it.”
- “…singles don’t exist. They’ve taken over the world, despite not existing.”
- CE: “Am I the first post-boomer?” KJB: “Maybe, maybe…”
- KJB (referencing CE’s essay “Arriverderci, Bay-BEE: Nocera and Fun Fun,” 1988): “There is a sense that you were trying to create your own voice and trying to say something to the boomers, whether self-consciously or not, that there IS something there.” CE: “Oh, hell yeah! I mean, a lot of that early heavy metal writing was just like — you know, heavy metal was this music that pissed all over the hippie generation.”
- “I was a new waver, but I saw something in this heavy metal, this ’70s AOR that I grew up on. But I wasn’t being ironic. Was I being ironic?… Basically, I grew up hating Led Zeppelin and Styx and Kansas and stuff like that, and my very first piece I wrote for money was, ‘this band is good because they sound like Jethro Tull and Kansas and Styx. But also it was trying to come to terms with — you know, maybe my high school classmates weren’t so wrong to begin with. Maybe there is something cool, maybe there is something to be said about this stuff. And it was me trying to figure that out. But I didn’t listen to music in high school; I didn’t listen to music until new wave happened.”
- “If [Rock and Roll Always Forgets] had come out two years later, I did a piece for eMusic last year about midwestern prog of the ’70s: Styx, Kansas, and REO Speedwagon – Prog on the Prairie. And a lot of that is, like, I insult Kansas a couple times, there’s no way Kansas could be any good. You know what? They were! They were pretty good, those first couple of albums. And I guess I understand — in some ways I understand ’70s hard rock more than I did when I wrote Stairway to Hell, that might surprise a lot of people too. But, um, do I consider it my music? Like, do I think I’m part of it? I don’t know about that. It was something I latched on to… I think I was smart to latch on to it, I think it got me a toe-hold in the world of rock criticism.”
Part three forthcoming…
Posted by s woods on August 4, 2011
Some discussion points, cool one-offs, and funny/enlightening quotes from part one (Dellio/Raggett/Soto) of EddyFest 2011, in order of appearance. This is a supplement to the podcast, not by any means a full-on summary, and it was compiled in fast-forward mode (in other words, it’s pretty much a given that several key discussion points are passed over; it’s really just a transcript of comments easily translatable into digestible bullet points).
- CE on writing up ambient music for Spin‘s “Essentials” series: “Oh wait, nobody’s ever done ambient — I have a Brian Eno album! And so, I did ambient. And, and… there’s a train going by, I’m actually outside right now, by the way.” (Nice, unintentional segue there!)
- CE, in discussing intros to the sections in the book (“I didn’t want them to be perfunctory”) reveals that a couple sections were nixed, including one on world music (“because they could tell that I really didn’t care about world music”) as well as a “one-hit wonders” chapter.
- re: CE’s essay on the Ultimate Band List (“Walking Into Spiderwebs,” 1998) PD references Andrew Keen’s arguments in The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture, re: online grammar standards (or lack thereof), and CE notes that he didn’t realize when writing the UBL piece just how much abbreviations, lack of punctuation, and generally lousy grammar usage online “would come to bug me.” [From CE's essay: "There's a sense of involvemement here, an excitement, a commitment to how people really talk. In the fleeting space of cyber, nobody cares much for punctuation or spelling. Grammatical errors and run-on phrases make UBL writing gyrate like some hyperactive new dance step."] [SW, thinking to himself at this point: "WTF, Chuck?"]
- re: CE’s Ramones feature from Rolling Stone ["Punk's First Family Grow Old Together," 1990]: “I’m not any kind of devil’s advocate for Rolling Stone, but I think people might understate a little bit what, at certain times in their history, you could get away with there.”
- Is the future of pop in albums or singles? “I care more about albums now than I do singles. That sounds like a contradiction, as someone who’s always writing about singles, but I’m much more confident now if I were to make a Top 10 albums list than a Top 10 singles list. And this year, or the last year-and-a-half, I just don’t really care about the radio that much now. I kind of think it’s pretty bad. It’s also less and less clear to me what a single is, you know?”
- Critical point by CE: “I really like the John Waite album this year. Maybe that’s the John Waite Rule in practise.” [For elucidation of the "John Waite Rule," you need to refer to issue #1 or #2 of PD's Radio On, which this author currently has packed away somewhere in a box, but recalls it as being a kinded spirit of sorts to GM's "Pia Zadora Rule."]
- NR echoes PD off the top by noting he was struck in particular by the section introductions in RARAF. CE: “That’s generally the newest writing in the book, and of course I’m already questioning what I wrote in a lot of those introductions. So you can imagine how much I’m questioning the pieces that are 30 years old.”
[Meanwhile, back in the control room, SW mildly freaking out, thinking everyone's going to ask CE questions about his terrific introductions!]
- CE claims he still questions his career choice — “and I’m 50.”
- “If you look at even the very first piece in the book, the ‘Over and Out’ piece [an excerpt from CE's 1983 Pazz & Jop ballot, not to mention his burst on to the public stage of rock criticism], I think I really did want some kind of saviour of music or something, which seems bizarre because it’s really not how I look at music, in general. And I think I saw Metallica as these guys who would come in to save the day, or at least save heavy metal.”
- “I tend not to read biographies of rock stars. I can probably count on one hand how many I’ve read in my life, and count on zero fingers the number I’ve read in the last few years — I’m just not that interested. But, I’m also a journalist, so I think I’m capable of finding the story… A lot of the features in that book tell a story about a life, not just music, and I do try to link the two.”
- “I care less about artist’s personal lives probably now than I did 20 years ago. Do I? I think that might be true.” [Followed by some good thoughts on Rihanna and CE's annoyance about how invested pop fans are today in the personal lives of pop stars.]
- “Well, for what it’s worth, surprise surprise, I’m suddenly down on country music this year. I think it’s the dullest year since, probably the millennium, at least. It’s starting to get pretty boring to me.”
- AS notes that he is “very honoured to be calling from the hometown of Will to Power and Miami Sound Machine.” CE returns the honour.
- CE: “I think the thing with that review [Mellencamp's Lonesome Jubilee] — and I was 26 then — it was a warning. It’s like, he’s going to lose it, and I was right, I was totally right. But I heard it on that record.”
- On losing interest in Prince, CE notes: “I just thought he stopped writing catchy songs and turned into a jam band. [Someone whose name SW couldn't make out] made me a tape once of the best Prince songs of the ’90s, and I’m like — there’s nothing that’s holding my attention here. This guy used to write great hooks.”
- “You know what, I heard [Living Color's] ‘Cult of Personality’ on the radio a couple weeks ago, and it wasn’t bad, it was better than any rock you hear on the radio NOW. Maybe… history gives you a better context.”
- re: rock criticism, ca. 2011: “Sure there’s a lot of things I could complain about, but for some reason, it doesn’t bug — I think it’s worse but it doesn’t bug me as much, maybe because I’m kind of resigned to it. I don’t submit really long Pazz & Jop ballots anymore. I guess at some point I decided it was out of my hands, or to put it another way, it’s not my responsibility, you know what I mean?”
- “I have that long essay in the book about how 1986 is the worst year ever for radio ["Dead Air"]… it’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous! It’s a good essay, and it’s really long, and it’s so amazing that Doug Simmons let me ramble on for 4,000 words about how 1986 is the worst year for pop ever, but it’s just like — you know what? I miss 1986.” [SW, for the record, believed in 1986 that CE was wrong about current pop, but in 2011 believes that he was mostly correct. Except about Nu Shooz, of course, which is thankfully rebutted by CE himself.]
Notes for parts two and three to come…
Posted by s woods on August 4, 2011
Though I’m only about halfway through it, this is a pretty damn interesting podcast (scroll down to June 23). (I need to learn more about Bill Simmons, too; I don’t follow sports even remotely these days, but I’m sensing he’s a rock critics’ sort of sports guy?)
Posted by s woods on August 2, 2011
In which eight rock critics, all Chuck Eddy fans, ask Chuck Eddy questions about (among other things) his new anthology, Rock and Roll Always Forgets: A Quarter Century of Music Criticism (on Duke University Press, in stores soon). A rockcritics.com exclusive, recorded on Sunday, July 31, now available here as a three-part podcast, with each episode running a little over an hour. Enjoy! (And thanks to all contributors, especially Chuck.)
Posted by s woods on July 11, 2011
I’ve mentioned a few times here already Kevin Avery’s wonderful book, Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Half a personal biography of Nelson, half a compilation of select Nelson reviews and essays, it’s one of the finest books I’ve ever read about a writer — and, needless to say, about rock criticism. Though Avery’s book is not actually in stores until October, you can pre-order it through Amazon and elsewhere. Be sure to visit Avery’s blog for further details about Everything is an Afterthought, as well as the book he is publishing almost simultaneously, Conversations With Clint: Paul Nelson’s Lost Interviews With Clint Eastwood, 1979-1983.
On June 22, I chatted on the phone with Kevin Avery and Steven Ward (whose “What ever happened to rock critic Paul Nelson?” was the first interview ever published in rockcritics.com, back in 2000). The result is a two-part podcast, nearly 100 minutes in length, entirely devoted to Avery’s book and to Paul Nelson’s life. Hope you enjoy.
Posted by s woods on July 5, 2011
Nona Willis Aronowitz is a political and cultural writer based in New York, and an Associate Editor at Good Magazine, where she blogs regularly. She is also the editor of one of the rock critical events of the season, Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music. Willis-Aronowitz, in case you hadn’t figured it out, is also the daughter of Ellen Willis. Vinyl Deeps (which I have mentioned frequently on this site already) compiles her mother’s classic New Yorker “Rock Etc.” columns from the ’60s and ’70s, along with her other published works of rock criticism, from venues like Cheetah and the Village Voice. It is a major and long overdue collection of music criticism by one of the premier rock critics and feminists of the last 40 years.
I recently spoke with Nona Willis Aronowitz about the publication of the book, and about her mother’s life as a rock critic.
Posted by s woods on June 16, 2011
So Long 1970: Rockcritics alumnus, Aaron Aradillas, interviews critic David Browne about his recent book, Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970. A Blog Talk Radio podcast.
Posted by s woods on May 31, 2011
Posted by s woods on May 31, 2011
Nona Willis Aronowitz discusses her mother’s work and legacy on WNYC’s Soundcheck.
Posted by s woods on May 30, 2011
I’m only about halfway through this podcast, but if you’re a fan of a) the Pet Shop Boys, b) Smash Hits magazine (Creem for New Pop Brit teens?), c) the years 1980-1983 or so, it’s a fairly useful discussion that fills in a lot of blanks about all three of those things. Particularly about Neil Tennant’s stint as a music journalist, which is a bigger deal than I was aware. Or maybe it’s treated like a big deal because, you know, he’s Neil Tennant. Anyway, some interesting stories here.
Via Word magazine… Click here.
Posted by s woods on January 22, 2010
Now the party’s over...
Alfred Soto and I wrap up our Roxy/Ferry behemoth with some final comments, including Alfred’s review of David Buckley’s The Thrill of it All and Much Ado About Bowie
MP3s of all seventeen episodes available here (as well as our personal Top 10s + a number of Roxy-related links).
Many thanks to Alfred for indulging me in this concept and for all this insightful and interesting comments along the way. Serious Roxy withdrawal to commence.