It was a year ago that I unleashed my first Carl’s Rock Songbook entry upon the world. It’s time to look back and see what’s unfolded so far.
Maybe another day I’ll link all of these, but for now I’d call your attention to the SEARCH FIRST THINGS box over on the upper right-hand corner. Simply paste the title there, or enter in “Carl’s Rock Songbook”.
1. The Zombies, “Time of the Season”
2. The Zombies, “Changes”
3. The Zombies, “Friends of Mine”
4. The Poetic Wisdom Paradox, Amplified
5. U2, “New Years Day”
6. Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ in the Wind”
7. Duke Ellington, “Come Sunday,” and The Velvet Underground, “Sunday Morning”
8. Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”
9. Marilynne Robinson, “I Miss Civilization”
10. Rock and Roll Patriotism
11. Rock and Roll Patriotism Defended
12. The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “My Generation”
13. The Ramones, “Bliztkrieg Bop”
14. Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock n’ Roll Grad School
15. Rock’s Social Geography
16. Rock’s Leftism
17. What Rock Does Well
18. David Bowie, “The Prettiest Star”
19. A Muse for the Middle
20. 9-11: The Day the Rock Muse Died?
21. David Bowie, “Sunday”
22. Joe Pug, “I Do My Father’s Drugs”
23. The Beach Boys, “That’s Not Me”
24. Simon and Garfunkel, “I Am a Rock”
25. Simon and Garfunkel, “Sounds of Silence”
26. The Three Stages of Modernity
27. Are There Anti-Abortion Rock Songs?
28. Intermediate Modernity
29. Cary Grant Did Acid
30. The Byrds, “Why?”
31. The Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby”
32. The Zombies, “A Rose for Emily”
33. The Waterboys, “December”
34. The Kinks, “Waterloo Sunset”
35. Robert Pacilio, “Rock of Ages”
36. Crystal Castles, “Baptism”
37. XTC, “Life Begins at the Hop”
38. The Gravedigger V, “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”
39. What Martha Bayles Said
40. The Bangles, “I’m in Line”
41. The Cramps, “Goo-Goo Muck”
42. The Who, “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere”
43. Roll Over Beethoven?
Occasionally, a reader comment or a holiday (or the number seven!) will elicit a stand-alone Songbook post, but otherwise, I’ve been providing bundles of connected posts. Some of these bundles center around particular songs or artists, others are more thematic.
Songbook posts 1-4 provide the following: a reading of the three songs, especially “Time of the Season,” a sketched analysis of the entire Odessey and Oracle album, and a consideration of the sexual revolution’s relation to rock. #4 makes its own Plato-related point, but also provides a final judgment of “Time.”
Posts 5-9, with #7 excepted, are about rock and the historicist pacifist hope, with #9 connecting such “pacifism” with the mainstreaming of anger-expression. These are the most overtly political and bitingly conservative of the Songbook entries, and the ones that elicited the most comments.
Entries 10-13 introduce readers to my Martha Bayles-schooled stance that distinguishes rock from rock and roll, and which regards it as aesthetically inferior to it. (This is also developed in 37-39 and 41.)
14-19 all concern “rock intellectualizing,” but they contain some of my most important (and briefest!) statements yet about the overall rock phenomenon and its relation to democratic modernity.
20-22 use the tenth anniversary of 9/11 to consider the contemporary unease/ambivalence of rock’s leftism.
23-25, 31-32, and 34 analyze Loneliness and Individualism songs.
26, and 28-30, jumping off of “The Sounds of Silence,” presents my theory of the three stages of modernity exhibited in the 20th century.
36-43 is a yet-to-be completed series that overall, is trying to interweave two fairly subtle topics together. First, it is trying to articulate how contemporary rock seems to be in a pattern of Perpetual Repetition, but how that mode is different from the Retro Rock and Roll stance that arose in the late 70s/early 80s—this is very much a response to, or a working out of my own thinking in the light of, Simon Reynolds’ fine book Retromania. Second, it is trying to more thoroughly explain, and in the light of my Tocquevillian/Liberal Education sociology of middle class music/identity, why the transition from rock n’ roll to Rock occurred in the first place, and why it set a certain pattern of middle-class mixtery-music that was doomed from the beginning to fall into its now-obvious mode of Perpetual Repetition.
There is no question that 36-43 have been the longest and most involved posts of the Songbook, and that they have strayed from the more accessible Songbook pattern of grounding things in a discussion of a well-known song. I promise I will return to that pattern soon enough, once I get my main ideas in this area expressed.
The best posts are probably 34, 25, 6, and 1-3 taken as a package. Perhaps the funniest is 14, the most historically informative is 38, and as I’ve said elsewhere, 15 is key.
But what do you say? Or, do you have any suggestions, or requests?
P.S. I do think my Songbook deserves to eventually win for itself a significant place among the works seeking to interpret the overall rock phenomena, but for now it remains a peculiar feature of Postmodern Conservative, and unknown to those who would most benefit from it, the handful of sane pop-culture theorists, and the more general class of intellectually open rock hipsters. It’s too early to tell if it will get lost in the shuffle of disposable internet-commentary, or not.