Saturday, August 23, 2014

Music Criticism

We live in a brave new world, dear friend, when it comes to music criticism.  I refer, of course, to Greil Marcus' new book ...

Click here to buy it.  I receive nothing.

Thank you.
You're welcome.

Just to take a quick shot at Amazon:  I don't care for a hardcover discount of nine bucks ($19, down from a list of $28, free two-day delivery for someone such as myself) while they are pricing the Kindle version at almost $15 bucks.  Are they trying to piss everybody off?

Anyway, there's a great review of this book in the Weekend Wall Street Journal.  Makes me want to go out and buy the thing, but reading the review at Carmen's over a plate of eggs, chorizo hash, home fries and an English muffin was pretty damned fine all by itself.  And you wouldn't believe the ten songs.

"Shake Some Action," "Transmission," "In the Still of the Nite," "All I Could Do Was Cry," "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," "Money (That's What I Want)," "Money Changes Everything," "This Magic Moment," "Guitar Drag," and "To Know Him Is To Love Him." 

Not exactly what you'd expect.  Me?  I would have included Bob Dylan's electric version of Like a Rolling Stone from his 1966 electric concert at Albert Hall.  The one where, faced with hecklers, he turns to The Band and says "Play it fucking loud."  But then again, I'm not Greil Marcus.  By a long shot.

The point of the thing is this:  I just turned on Rdio and listened to both Etta James' and Beyonce's version of All I Could Do Was Cry, both of which are touched on in the book.  So I can envision a world in which I sit at my desk and, using some combination of Grooveshark, Spotify, Rdio (all of which are free) and whatever, read a chapter of the book and listen to pretty much every song Marcus mentions as he mentions it.  Which is what I mean about living in a brave new world.  You couldn't do this shit five years ago.

Beyonce does a pretty nice job with it, just for the record.

I can't wait for her to break up with J-Zee so I can email her my telephone number, despite this bit from the review ...

Mr. Marcus can be perceptive about music and show business. Writing about Etta James's "All I Could Do Was Cry," he skewers BeyoncĂ©, and the whole "Showtime at the Apollo" aesthetic, with a sharp thrust—"the melismatics that turn every song into a mirror into which the singer gazes at her own beauty." 

Ouch.

In support of my thesis, I also listened to Buddy Holly do two versions of Crying, Waiting, Hoping; Shake Some Action by the Flamin' Groovies; This Magic Moment by the Drifters; Money Changes Everything by the Smiths and Cyndi Lauper; and, of course, Joy Division doing Transmission.

Note on the WSJ:  I don't know if you can read the link if you're not a subscriber.  Sorry if I got you worked up for nothing, but it should be noted that they have an unbelievable introductory offer for both electronic and hard copy.

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