Zappa (16): Frank, Lou, Celine, and Carl

“But here at home, the fans of both artists [Lou Reed and Frank Zappa] continue to bicker. Only a few years ago, the Canadian music critic, Carl Wilson, wrote me to say kind words about my book on Randy Newman. I wrote back to thank him and asked him if he read Dangerous Kitchen. ‘I don’t read books about Frank Zappa,’ was his quick reply. Being a critic sometimes demands a desire to examine not only why you love what you love, but also why you hate what you hate. (And Wilson, who took on the idea of taste in his sharp book on Celine Dion, obviously knows that.) But lovers of music on the wild side of the fence, perhaps like Carl Wilson, tend to get proprietary about what they love and why. It becomes a chic kind of security blanket against the expediency of the mainstream.”

– Kevin Courrier, The Wild Side: Lou Reed vs Frank Zappa

Enjoyed this piece (the Zappa-Nico anecdote is fascinating), a little ambivalent about the quote. I’ve actually been wanting to draw a connection for a while between Zappa and Reed (not like it hasn’t been done before, but I was thinking one with a critical bent), but also to draw a connection between critical Zappa-hate and critical Dion-hate, and Carl Wilson’s book certainly came to mind. Will try and pursue this thread at some point. (Been thinking of re-reading Wilson’s book for this very reason — coming out in an expanded edition, I see — but maybe I need to add Courrier’s Zappa book to the list as well.)

(The Zappa series here at rockcritics is never finished btw — I’m not sure it ever really got started — though there will likely be long phases of inactivity. Truth is, I’m planning to do some other similar series in parallel — starting a new one next week, maybe, with a group which couldn’t seem further away from Zappa, but who still fit into my idea of what makes an artist-critic dialogue worthy of thinking about. I dare you to guess who.)

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