Entries by tag: writing

Bands That I've Been In
As some of you know, I've performed in a number of rock bands, though my first group was a folk trio. We were high-schoolers playing a student dance, doing rousing sea chanteys and battle anthems in a headlong, banjo-picking style. We excited the crowd. (I was in elementary school, age 11 or 12, when I first came up with the idea; can't say I had much of a clue yet what would excite an eventual high-school crowd.)

In early 1967, just when I'd turned 13, John Lennon quit the Beatles to form a band with me. I had two intense, emotional melodies that became hit songs. We toured the country, playing smaller halls, despite Lennon's fame. The small venues fit the sparer, more emotional music I had in mind. The two melodies did in fact exist; I remember one of them still, though I'm not sure it's all that intense and emotional anymore. Neither of the melodies ever got any words or became real songs. The only actual song of mine up to that point was a funny one called "Out on the Autostrada" that I’d composed at age 10 on a trip from Rome to Sicily. Its lyrics, in their entirety, were "Out on the Autostrada/We put some ham in their chowder," auto pronounced "ow-toe" in the Italian way, chowder pronounced "chow-duh" in the Boston way.

I don't distinctly remember the bands I put together right after the Lennon one. I'm sure there were many. I do remember that at age 16 I briefly had a band with Grace Slick. Grace was a goddess to me at the time, though a very scary one. Lots of male rock stars were up on my wall. She was the only woman among them. I was in awe of her and completely infatuated but very intimidated too. "Either go away or go all the way in" really unnerved me. She was beautiful, but I don't know how much I was attracted to her. I almost never have sex fantasies about stars, anyway. I prefer people I know. I had a masturbation daydream about Grace, once, that eventually succeeded, but it was work. I kept picturing her hard unblinking stare; I didn't know if she'd relent to actually liking me. Maybe if I were to meet the real Grace — loud, emotional ex-drunk that she's supposed to be — my fantasy life with her would improve.

After the Grace band, I was the starCollapse )

The Performer
The performer speaks easily, giving interviews in English, but careful, too. Not spilling her guts, or spilling the beans, either, should she have any in her big backpocket. She watches a dance rehearsal clip, along with the interviewer, confesses that she hates that it shows her without makeup. She continues speaking, a level tone, describes the effect of YouTube, "Even though music has no language and has the power to break any walls," she says, "YouTube and the Internet have definitely made it easier for people to check our music out and look at our videos." You notice that she's speaking not only in complete sentences, but that she's forming them fully, subordinate clauses and all. "More than I can do, on my feet," you say to yourself. The interview continues, the thoughts steady, though rarely rising above platitudes. She explains that for the fans these days it's not just about listening to and feeling the songs, but about expressing themselves just as the performers do. So the group makes sure that among the dance moves, there are some that are easy enough for the fans to copy.

You yourself track her on YouTube, see her on the reality show, in her own language talking faster but more pensively, posing and answering questions in soliloquy, you watching the subtitles, she wondering if in five years, when the contract is up, would she re-sign. What if the energy isn't there? Her words are fast but the thought comes slow. She doesn't know. Would she have the spirit to start over?

Then the real thing, onstageCollapse )

Sum ppl need 2 remember who got the loo roll at 2am last week b4 they criticise
In the midst of our convo about the cartoonish Girl's Day video, I thought of this, my all-time favorite Freaky Trigger thread:

Teen News*

The thread thoroughly refutes Tom's contention that he's never managed to make his writing feel like pop.

*In the Freaky Trigger post, the first two links are real, the rest Kat's inventions.

Lester Plays Vegas (April 30)
On one level I suppose all of this is very funny, but if you look past the surface violence and simple abusiveness to the person at the center it's not funny at all. The reason it's not is the aforementioned ambivalence. Jungle war with bike gangs is one thing, but it gets a little more complicated when those of us who love being around that war (at least vicariously) have to stop to consider why and what we're loving. Because one of the things we're loving is self-hate, and another may well be a human being committing suicide. Here's a quote from a review of Iggy's new live show in the British rock weekly Sounds: "Iggy's a dancer and more, a hyper-active packet of muscle and sinew straight out of Michelangelo's wet dreams... who leaps and claws at air, audience and mike stand in an unsurpassable display that spells one thing—MEAT." Ignoring the florid prose, I'd like to ask the guy who wrote that how he would like to be thought of as a piece of meat, how he thinks the meat feels. Or if he thinks it feels at all. Yeah, Iggy's got a fantastic body; it's so fantastic he's crying in every nerve to explode out of it into some unimaginable freedom. It's as if someone writhing in torment has made that writing into a kind of poetry, and we watch in awe of such beautiful writhing, so impressed that we perhaps forget what inspired it in the first place.
--Lester Bangs, "Iggy Pop: Blowtorch In Bondage," Village Voice, 28 March 1977

I remember, not well, someone having written, probably in the early '70s, maybe a letter to the editor, maybe it was to Creem, and someone wrote maybe a brief reply to the letter, maybe unsigned, maybe it was Lester who wrote the reply. The writer was lamenting the absence of Buddy Holly. If Buddy had lived, he'd be doing great things, said the letter, said the writer. And the reply was No! If Buddy had lived he'd being playing Vegas just like any other oldie living off his past, his work no longer mattering except as a walking corpse of a reminder that it once had mattered.

So Lester. He never totally got his shit together, not just chemically but intellectually. But he didn't give up. If he asked a question, the question didn't disappear, didn't get a glib answer from him and then evaporate or hang around like a vague fart, a mist of buzzwords answered by another mist of buzzwords. The questions gnawed at him, repeated, didn't leave him alone.

If he'd lived, I think it would have made a difference. I don't know what his follow-through would have been — he could get lost in an enthusiasm of words and anguish — but I know there would have been one. Maybe it'd just end up as Lester's filibuster. But the questions would ride him, would at least fight to stay addressed. And this is where Lester is different from all my colleagues. I complain from time to time that rock critics, music critics, people in my rockwrite/musicwrite/wrong world, don't know how to sustain an intellectual conversation. My complaints don't help anybody, since whatever the message is in my own writing, the idea that there's a joy in discovery, in unearthing the unknown, that you interact with what's in front of you, with the everyday, and see a new world each time you look, each time you act, but only by thinking, testing, challenging, re-wording and re-phrasing — this message doesn't get across, doesn't get felt, I guess. There's a basic unshakable dysfunction and incompetence in my world, which amounts to dishonesty, a pretense of thought without actual thinking.

Don't know that Lester really knew how either, but given that the conversation, the questions, wouldn't leave him, I imagine he'd have given it a shot.

Ken Emerson Always Magic In The Air
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Some mumbling in the bleachers to the effect that Pitchfork's list of their 60 favorite music books won't direct you to the work by T.W. Adorno you'll most need, or to the bio of Jimmy Durante you'll most want (the only one I've read is Schnozzola by Gene Fowler, which I found quite entertaining, though fundamentally anecdotal). But youff must be served! In any event, many books on the list I've yet to read myself, and some are by people I've never heard of, so it surely serves a purpose.

Tom's been posting cover pics of some of his own faves that didn't make the list, and Tal tossed in a gem of his own; I'm joining in, will add several over the next days or months, favorite authors as yet unpictured.

Ken Emerson was my first rock critic hero, before Nelson, before Meltzer, before Christgau. Wrote about the Dead, about the Yardbirds, about the Stones, about Bowie, but also about one shots, nobodies, and ex-somebodies I'd never heard of. "Without the Zombies, rock would be no different, just poorer." Emerson uncovered the artistry of entertainers and craftsmen who didn't officially matter in the counterculture '60s: pros in cubicles and scruffy kids imitating the previous big thing. So he brought me a world that was way more populated than I'd realized.

Hats old and newCollapse )

More good musicwrite, 2010
Like me,* Tom Ewing asked people to list the best thing they wrote all year, and his list has only a couple of overlaps with mine.


*If you missed my request the first time, I encourage you to add your choice in the comments here or back at the original post. I was asking for your one best or favorite from your own writing about music this year and the best or your favorite of someone else's. Add links, if possible.

Good musicwrite, 2010
In the comments (or if in Tumblr, reblog), please name the single best or your single favorite thing you wrote about music (etc.) this year.

Also, please name the single best or your single favorite thing that someone else wrote about music this year.

(I haven't yet figured out how I'll answer this, so you'll have to go to the comments to see my answer too.)

If possible, provide links.

Guitars don't kill music; musicians kill music
Just posted this on the ilX Rolling Music Writers' Thread in response to some unthought-through statements from Matos and Weingarten:

I doubt that someone who hasn't "earned" the right to use the first person has earned the right to bore us with adjectives and genre designations either. Someone who falls asleep at my use of the first person isn't interested in my ideas anyway, whether I'm in the first person or not. To go back to my analogy [upthread], the phrase "guitar band" is a red flag for me these days, indicating that I'm likely to dislike what I hear. But the problem isn't with guitars themselves; guitars don't kill music, musicians kill music, and if you had the same guys playing keyboards or xylophones they'd probably be just as dreary. "Electric guitar" meant electric excitement in '66, it means drudgery now. But there's plenty of electric guitar excitement in music today - great stuttering Keith Richards-style guitar chords at the start of Martina McBride's "Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong," for instance - it just doesn't usually come packaged with "guitar band" on the label.

red flagCollapse )

(no subject)
From Luc's blog:

Picking up a copy of Thomas Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller or George Ade's Fables in Slang or Chester Himes's Blind Man With a Pistol and leafing through it for five minutes helps restore my writing style when it has gone stale.

So, what works for you when your writing goes stale? (Basically, I've tried everything, and nothing works for me when my writing goes stale; I just have to write through it and try not to let my own staleness shut me down. Reading other writers in their freshness just makes me feel that I'm worse in comparison. I do read Otis Ferguson to try to restore myself to good humor, however.)

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