Posts tagged #music criticism

Forthcoming: PopMatters Column and TCJ Article

Two bits of news, kids. My "Ties That Bind" column at PopMatters will return in March. I took a hiatus last summer in order to focus on some book-length projects: finishing my novel The Day and getting it out to agents, getting further ahead on my book about The 'Nam and my book of music criticism (described below). I'm excited that "Ties That Bind" will once again be a monthly column. Thanks to the PopMatters editors who graciously welcomed me back.

Also, I'll have a long essay at The Comics Journal sometime in March. It examines this concept of "profluent lingering" which I've written about before, but this time tackles poem comics, specifically two works by the extremely talented Bianca Stone. More on that when it's out.

Go Read Ellen Willis

I'm reacquainting myself with Ellen Willis, the preeminent, vital rock critic and feminist who died in 2006. I've read a smattering of her work here and there, but for the first time I'm reading Out of the Vinyl Deeps, which collected her writings before last year's The Essential Ellen Willis. She's too often overlooked (and has been by me), and her work not only puts the music of the late 1960s into new contexts, it's just brilliantly written. I'm not very familiar with her political writing, but the few short pieces and excerpts I've read are just as sharp as her writing about music. That the opening essay in Out of the Vinyl Deeps on Bob Dylan, published in Cheetah in 1967, was the first essay she ever penned--well, that is humbling.

She's the kind of writer who can craft one sentence that explains everything, that goes deep enough you just stop reading and start thinking. Here's one such sentence from the Dylan essay, again, written in 1967, post-crash, post "Like a Rolling Stone," but just as John Wesley Harding came out:

"Many people hate Bob Dylan because they hate being fooled."

True then, true now. Round and round you can go with that one.

This Tumblr page collects news items relevant to her writing and career, and is another ocean to swim.


Posted on February 3, 2015 and filed under Music Criticism.

Super Bowl Halftime Isn't For Old People?

Or so says USA Today in responding with its typical seventh-grade reading level to tonight's Katy Perry performance at the halftime show of the Super Bowl:

"Perry is the world’s most followed Twitter user (64.3 million and counting) and a popular, energetic female pop star who sings songs with catchy hooks. She’s someone in the prime of her career and adored by the NFL’s target demographic: young people. Katy Perry is what a Super Bowl halftime show should be. Rather than dragging out The Who or Tom Petty for a medley of songs that were on “Greatest Hits” albums before Katy Perry was born, get someone actually relevant today."

I'm all for Katy Perry at the Super Bowl, but damn this is insulting, no? Back in the box, old people!

Apparently the shelf-life of relevance, whatever the hell that really means, is getting shorter. Later in the article, its author wonders why Missy Elliott was included:

"Just when the Super Bowl halftime show threatened to be relevant to the current zeitgeist, Perry trots out a rapper whose last song to hit the charts was in 2008 and peaked at No. 95. Though Missy is a fine rapper, she’s probably unknown to a vast majority of the viewing audience, which is why it was so odd for Perry to hype her like she wanted fans to expect Elvis to enter the building."

I don't know, maybe it's because she's a huge fan of Elliott?

Anyway, I liked the Transformers lion/tiger and the dancing sharks. Spectacle wins again.


Posted on February 1, 2015 and filed under Music Criticism.