“Next is ‘culture training,’ in which trainees memorize colloquialisms and state capitals, study clips of Seinfeld and photos of Walmarts, and eat in cafeterias serving paneer burgers and pizza topped with lamb pepperoni. Trainers aim to impart something they call ‘international culture’—which is, of course, no culture at all, but a garbled hybrid of Indian and Western signifiers designed to be recognizable to everyone and familiar to no one. The result is a comically botched translation—a multibillion dollar game of telephone.”—“My Summer at an Indian Call Center.”
I feel like you seem pretty well-read when it comes to books about (pop/rock) music. I've been looking for some reading on the subject, so do you have any suggestions? I don't mean like 'How to Make It In the Pop Music Industry!' but more like biographies or just histories, etc. Whatever your favorite books on music are, I'm curious to know!
Fun question! These aren’t all about pop/rock, but all relate in some way to music, and is definitely just a start (and of course, only stuff I’ve read/can remember clearly).
From Continuum’s 33 1/3 series: the “Use Your Illusion,” “Zaireeka,” “Live at the Apollo,” “Nation of Millions,” “Armed Forces,” “Let’s Talk About Love,” “Pretty Hate Machine,” and “If You’re Feeling Sinister” entries.
“When the cycle concluded, Jay opened the floor to a conversation, as he has during recent events of this kind, asking only that reporters put down their notepads and close their iPhones (Some of us didn’t). What ensued was a kind of half-professional, half-freewheeling chat. The journalists that knew Jay better were freer in their discourse, while the novices asked earnest, interview-y questions. Jay-Z, who has a lot of experience being the calmest, cleverest person in the room, had fun jabbing at everyone—at one point I interrupted one of his responses before he’d finished and he playfully chided me, letting off his trademark cackle-chuckle. These are the times when you don’t mind being mocked.”—“Anatomy of a Listening Event: Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne.”
The band’s robust three-decade relationship with its fans hit bottom on July 2, 1995, at the former Deer Creek Music Center outside Indianapolis. As the group played ‘Let It Grow,’ a wave of gatecrashers kicked and ripped their way through a high wooden fence, assisted by many audience members inside. Appalled band members looked on from the stage as police in riot gear mustered outside.
A concert scheduled at Deer Creek for the following night was canceled, the first time any Dead show ever had to be scratched due to fan behavior. At the urging of the band’s management, Mr. McNally sat down in his Indianapolis hotel room and wrote a missive to the Dead Heads.
'We're all supposed to be about higher consciousness, not drunken stupidity,' he wrote in a 400-word letter peppered with expletives. All six band members signed the letter, including Mr. Garcia, who died a month later.
“When I was in high school, you’d have to be a megalomaniac or the most popular kid around to think of yourself as having a fan base. But people 25 and under are just being realistic when they think of themselves that way, says media researcher Danah Boyd, who calls the phenomenon ‘invisible audiences.’ Since their early adolescence, they’ve learned to modulate their voice to address a set of listeners that may shrink or expand at any time: talking to one friend via instant message (who could cut-and-paste the transcript), addressing an e-mail distribution list (archived and accessible years later), arguing with someone on a posting board (anonymous, semi-anonymous, then linked to by a snarky blog). It’s a form of communication that requires a person to be constantly aware that anything you say can and will be used against you, but somehow not to mind.”—
boyd (all lower case) is right about “invisible audiences,” though her coinage is really just a new way of saying “public,” which we’ve been theorizing for decades now as some assemblage of strangers united through some form of address (cf. Benedict Anderson, Michael Warner). The big change with social media, as boyd notes in her research, is that we can modulate our utterances to fit parts of our audiences that we know very well, by name/reputation/friendship, etc., if not limiting what we say strictly to them. This is something that Anderson and Warner were writing too early to take note of, but which has, in my opinion, fundamentally altered the idea of imagined communities, publics, quasi-public utterances, etc. And which of course is the main attribute that feeds into the generation gap this piece highlights—those of a certain age assuming that everything is seen by everyone and we don’t know who and they are likely dangerous, Dateline…Nancy Grace…
Either way, super great piece, highly worth your time.
'I always enjoyed the idea that krautrock was considered highbrow, yet New Age textures signaled something more cheesy and lowbrow,' said Lopatin. 'But there's also a superficial dissolution of the ego in both New Age music and Western mysticism that I find amusing.' Animal Collective's Brian 'Geologist' Weitz agrees: 'I think the reason there is a stigma attached to a lot of New Age music is because of the personalities associated with it and the naive optimism to their aesthetic.'
New Age music preached spirituality, environmentalism, self-evolution and the like, yet when musicians and the major record labels saw the successes that an auteur like Halpern had with his cottage industry, big money soon followed. ‘New Age music was one of the very first completely amateur-driven genres,’ said Mcgowan. ‘Yet it became commercialized around the same time as Ronald Reagan’s remaking of America in 1984, where something that started as a countercultural hippie movement was completely co-opted.’ New Age became big business, leading to subsequent Halpern releases with oddly utilitarian titles like ‘Music for Your PC’ and ‘Attracting Prosperity,’ not to mention the international success of Enya, who has sold more than 75 million records worldwide.
One time we were talking when Oprah had—I guess she got sued by the beef industry at one point, because she said something disparaging about beef. They sued her, and she won the lawsuit, and said, coming out of the courtroom, ‘Freedom not only rules, it rocks.’
We just could not believe how weird that sounded. So we started joking about rocking and ruling. Then we came up with ‘Rock, Rot & Rule’ and were just doing it on the phone to each other, and we were like, ‘Let’s do that on the radio and see what happens!’ A couple people who we told we were going to do it were like, ‘That doesn’t sound like a good idea. That sounds like it’s not going to go well.’
”—It went well. I had no idea the origin was so weirdly unrelated, though! Read this interview with Tom Scharpling, whose Best Show phone calls with Jon Wurster are some of the most hilarious long-form comedy you’ll ever hear. If you’re cool.
Her first day at The Plain Dealer was March 24, 1952, three days after the world’s first rock concert — Alan Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball at the old Cleveland Arena.
Scott started out at as a society writer. She soon worked both ends of the demographic spectrum, writing columns for teens and senior citizens.
When the Beatles performed Sept. 15, 1964, at Public Hall, Scott was there, reporter’s notebook in hand. “I never before saw thousands of 14-year-old girls, all screaming and yelling,” she recalled later. “I realized this was a phenomenon… . The whole world changed.”
So did Scott’s job. She became The Plain Dealer’s rock writer and scored an interview with McCartney when the Fab Four returned to headline Municipal Stadium in 1966.
Scott went on to cover the Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, David Bowie and other future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers early in their careers.
Scott often told the story about the time she tagged along when Jimi Hendrix bought a blue Corvette at a Shaker Heights dealership.
Or the time Jim Morrison told her he wanted to start his own religion. The Lizard King invited Scott backstage for a beer before a 1967 show by the Doors. “The first sound Cleveland heard from Morrison onstage was a burp,” Scott wrote.
Or the time she was interviewing Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and he parked himself behind a piano in the lounge of the old Stouffer Tower City Plaza Hotel. They sang “California Girls” together.
Ever since we first heard of Bloomington, Indiana’s Dreamers of the Ghetto last fall, we’ve dreamed (no pun intended, really) of working with them. Our dreams are coming true as we’ll release the anticipated debut album this fall, and it is well worth the wait! If you’re not yet familiar, you should acquaint yourself with their tumblr page, as it’s highly informative and entertaining. Look for the debut album, ‘Enemy/Lover,’ coming soon!
Congrats to a very worthy band. One of the best Bloomington’s ever produced.
The first thing to do is toss out that $25 million loss, says Rodney Fort, a sports economist at the University of Michigan. That’s not a real loss. That’s house money. The Nets didn’t have to write any checks for $25 million. What that $25 million represents is the amount by which Nets owners reduced their tax obligation under something called a roster depreciation allowance, or RDA.
Bear with me now. The RDA dates back to 1959, and was maybe Bill Veeck’s biggest hustle in a long lifetime of hustles. Veeck argued to the IRS that professional athletes, once they’ve been paid for, “waste away” like livestock. Therefore a sports team’s roster, like a farmer’s cattle or an office copy machine or a new Volvo, is a depreciable asset.
The underlying logic is specious at best. As Fort points out, a team’s roster at any given moment isn’t actually depreciating. While some players are fading with age, others are developing and improving. But the Nets don’t have to pay more taxes when a player becomes more valuable. And in any case, the cost of depreciation is borne by the athletes themselves, when they pass their primes and lose their personal earning power.
Nevertheless, the IRS not only agreed with Veeck but allowed any owner claiming the write-off to deduct roster expenses twice — first under “player salaries,” in the case of the Nets’ documents, and then under “loss on players’ contracts” — and an enormous tax shelter sprang up within the balance sheets of franchises everywhere. This can’t be emphasized enough: Every year, taxpayers hand the plutocrats who own sports franchises a fat pile of money for no other reason than that one of those plutocrats, many years ago, convinced the IRS that his franchise is basically a herd of cattle. Fort calls it “special-interest legislation.” “It’s not illegal,” he says. “It’s just weird.”
The real problem is the dickishness of our mainstream political analysis, especially from the ‘savviest’ practitioners. Back during my days as media critic, I argued in Breaking the News and a related Atlantic cover story that the laziest and ultimately most destructive form of political coverage came when journalists seemed to imagine that they were theater critics or figure-skating judges. The what of public affairs didn’t interest them. All they cared about was the how.
In this case, the ‘what’ of Obama’s press conference — the unbelievable recklessness of mainly House Republicans in inviting the largest self-inflicted economic wound in American history — deserves every bit of frustration Obama showed, and lots more.
“For Hornsby, it was a chance to play one-on-one against the best basketball player he’d ever face, a certain future pro. He’d played high school ball, the only white on a team of blacks, and he stayed in shape by playing hoops on the road. As a piano player, however, Hornsby had to guard against any injury to his hands. So he’d come up with his ‘Piano Hands Rules.’ Each player would get one shot each time they got the ball, and any rebound would be an automatic change of possession.”—“Allen Iverson and Bruce Hornsby: 1993" (via)
“Indeed, for major labels, releasing rap albums has become a process frighteningly similar in outline to signing major legislation—months of dead space, a brief flurry of activity and heady promises, then, finally, inexplicable stalls, dashed hopes, and disillusionment. Repeat. There are several well-established coping strategies; for instance, mixtapes made of the latest scraps from the album’s cutting room floor, a cost-eating and humiliating exercise for all involved and the album-release equivalent of showing up with an expensive present the day after you missed your kid’s birthday. Other viable options include: ranting about your predicament on Twitter and wallowing in the sympathy of your followers; or working with any and every producer the label sends your way, in hopes that a Bruno Mars hook will finally bring mercy from the gods.”—“The Top Ten Failed First Singles Off The Game’s The R.E.D. Album.”
“Digital downloads – not to say Wikipedia entries, music blogs and even sites like UbuWeb – encourage a superficial engagement with culture. The quality and depth of interaction between an individual and a piece of art is no longer paramount. It’s all about how much you’re packing. The internet is a great, dull leveller, throwing out Cecil Taylor bootlegs and scans of rare mimeo zines as indiscriminately as virals for underarm deodorant. The idea of the quest, the concept of an encounter with art that happens in the context of your own life, is rapidly being replaced by an endless series of simulacra.”—It’s 2011, and we’re still seeing these cranky old technological determinist arguments trotted out. Get over yourselves, dudes.
Local record company Diamond Studios has responded to a growing demand for music tapes by opening a cassette plant in the capital, Harare.
It produces thousands of tapes each month and delivers them to music shops in Zimbabwe’s towns and rural areas, as well as to Mozambique and Botswana.
Diamond Studios executive Phathisani Sibanda says cassettes can be profitable both for music labels and artists, helping in the fight against music piracy.
'When we started with the CD stuff, the CD was pirated a lot,' he says. 'At the end of the day the artist got nothing from sales, royalties — nothing for the artist, nothing for the studios. So we decided to opt for the cassettes, [it's] hard to dupe them.'
“The warrior smiles at Charlie. He’s nineteen, only five years older than she is, and has lived away from his village since he was ten. But he’s sung for enough American tourists to recognize that in her world, Charlie is a child. Thirty-five years from now, in 2008, this warrior will be caught in the tribal violence between the Kikuyu and the Luo and will die in a fire. He’ll have had four wives and sixty-three grandchildren by then, one of whom, a boy named Joe, will inherit his lalema: the iron hunting dagger in a leather scabbard now hanging at his side. Joe will go to college at Columbia and study engineering, becoming an expert in visual robotic technology that detects the slightest hint of irregular movement (the legacy of a childhood spent scanning the grass for lions). He’ll marry an American named Lulu and remain in New York, where he’ll invent a scanning device that becomes standard issue for crowd security. He and Lulu will buy a loft in Tribeca, where his grandfather’s hunting dagger will be displayed inside a cube of Plexiglas, directly under a skylight.”—Jennifer Egan, “A Visit from the Goon Squad” (61-2).
As a moral philosopher, Nozick was free to stretch liberty further than even an Austrian economist. That is, he was able to separate out a normative claim (that liberty is the fundamental value of values, and should be maximized) from an empirical claim (that the most efficient method for allocating goods and services is a market economy). Free to pursue liberty as a matter of pure principle, Nozick let nothing stand in his way. Should we tax the rich to feed the poor? Absolutely not, as ‘taxation of earnings is on par with forced labor.’ (Or more precisely: ‘Taking the earnings of n hours of labor is like taking n hours from the person.’) Well, isn’t at least some redistribution necessary on the basis of need? ‘Need a gardener allocate his services to those lawns which need him most?’
To the entire left, Nozick, in effect, said: Your social justice comes at an unacceptable cost, namely, to my personal liberty. Most distressingly, to this end Nozick enlisted the humanist’s most cherished belief: the inviolability of each human being as an end unto himself—what Nozick, drawing on Immanuel Kant, calls ‘the separateness of persons.’ For Nozick, the principle of the separateness of persons is close to sacred. It affirms, as he writes, ‘the underlying Kantian principle that individuals are ends and not merely means; they may not be sacrificed or used for the achieving of other ends without their consent. Individuals are inviolable.’
”—The introduction to Stephen Metcalf’s thorough dismantling of Nozickian libertarianism over at Slate.
I created a monster. So someone, for some reason, requested a “10cc mix”. Unfortunately, the last 10cc album I’ve listened to is 1980’s Look Hear, which is probably further into their career than a lot of other people got, but doesn’t totally cover their whole discography up to 1983 whe they stop, so I figured I’d stick to the era when Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were still in the band. That gives me their first four albums to work with. There’s plenty of good stuff after those dudes leave in 1976 but this seemed like a good way of making this mix manageable and sincere.
The focus here was just on the songs I really like, so it’s not comprehensive at all and focuses on their ironic soft-rock ballads rather than their slightly-less-ironic-than-Zappa rockers. And quite a few hits are missing but you can go cop a “greatest hits” collection if you want that, but as the Bruce McCulloch once said, “greatest hits album are for housewives and little girls.” Oh yeah, of course, “I’m Not In Love” is included here because it is probably the best song ever made. It’s also used really well in the movie Deuce Bigalow. Anyways, enjoy.
Frere-Jones is much too smart a writer to drop any out-and-out misogyny in a piece for the New Yorker, but his implication is clear: ‘moms’ are culture-ignorant and prefer their music ‘unperturbing.’ This is funny, because just two days ago, Bon Iver released Bon Iver, Bon Iver, a critically-lauded album predicted to debut near the top of the Billboard Top 200. The main musical reference points for this album? Bruce Hornsby and Bonnie Raitt, the latter of whom the band covered on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Both artists had appeal to all ages and both genders, but if you’d asked us the definition of ‘mom music’ in 1986, Hornsby wouldn’t be a bad answer, and in 1991 we might have mentioned Raitt’s 13-times-platinum Luck of the Draw.
So undiscerning moms are a generation ahead of the curve, or else it takes twenty-odd years for the stigma of ‘mom music’ to wear off. Either way, Frere-Jones’s claim, even if it is accurate—which, considering the sheer number of physical and digital albums Adele has sold, is extremely unlikely—doesn’t in itself excuse outright dismissal. His rejection of Adele, in other words, has less to do with her music and more to do with what she connotes to him: a middlebrow sensibility, which he codes as female. We should expect better from our pop critics.
“Like a good guitar player, Clemons moved from melodic leads to rhythm parts with amazing fluidity. You can hear as much on ‘Sherry Darling’, a vibrant album cut from 1980’s The River. In the intro, Clemons’ sax is less a fanfare than the life of the party, leading the band in a conga line. When his turn comes to solo, he communicates a back-patting sympathy for Springsteen’s beleaguered narrator, stuck in a hot car with his girl’s loudmouth mom. Clemons was a master of concision, with a talent for conveying complex drama in a few short measures. He knew how a simple, sustained note could have an overwhelming power: His lengthy solo in ‘Jungleland’ may not be the most representative showcase for his technical flair, but its simple runs and warm, comforting tones, both reinforce Springsteen’s lyrics and take the song— and the audience— to another place altogether.”—Love Stephen Deusner’s take on Clarence Clemons’ legacy.
None of the liberating power Willis felt in pop music could function without pleasure. In this way, she was ahead of the back-and-forth that would come between the neo-Adorno undergroundist critics who were suspicious of pop pleasure and the (now dominant) faction of poptimists who insist that’s where it all begins.
But she was always asking herself what pleasure meant: I like that beat, but what do I like it for? It’s not just whether and how it works, but what it works, what it’s propelling. She was alert to the possibilities of masochism, of submitting to the force or insinuation of music without questioning what becomes of the self in the process. She also delighted in finding pleasure that was hard to find – that punk, for example, had a positive life-force to offer within what had seemed nihilistic, anti-pleasure to her at first. But when music had no pleasure in it, she was impatient with any other argument it might have to offer.
Car companies know that if buyers don’t get a satisfying thud when they close the door, it dents their confidence in the entire vehicle.
To produce the ideal clunk, car doors are designed to minimise the amount of high frequencies produced (we associate them with fragility and weakness) and emphasise low, bass-heavy frequencies that suggest solidity.
The effect is achieved in a range of different ways – car companies have piled up hundreds of patents on the subject – but usually involves some form of dampener fitted in the door cavity. Locking mechanisms are also tailored to produce the right sort of click and the way seals make contact is precisely controlled.