This is an odds n’ ends post. I’m going to do ONE more post on rock films, soon enough, and then give that series a rest for a while. High-time for the songbook to get back to SONGS.
This week I came across a two interesting tidbits. First, my good friend, philosophic advisor, and loyal pomocon commenter Paul Seaton sent me this odd interview with Robert Fripp. It’s…relaxing. Unlike most rockers, he says wise things. Indeed, he dresses, talks, and sounds very little like a rock star. I think Paul sent it to me for the part where he says “the musician interested in working in contemporary terms is best off working in rock music.” That I agree with, especially in terms of zeitgeist-reflective lyrical content, even if I’m not sure what he can mean when he says rock is more flexible than classical or jazz.
My Songbook has been a bit hard on rock as a musical form, after all, suggesting certain weaknesses compared to classical and jazz, and arguing that its future is one of cycling ’round the cultural cul-de-sac, and so it’s good to hear another view, an older one to be sure, from Fripp.
On a similar note, it’s only fair for me to mention from time to time how bad pop music can really be. The next Songbook entry I’ll be praising the sort of disco Whit Stillman loves, and thus extolling certain pop qualities over rock ones. But my other discovery this week was a very funny list, penned by one Laura Jane (writes for a music blog Knox Road) of the “Ten Most Beloved Songs I Hate.” Especially recommended for those of you who are sane enough to insulate yourself from the usual pop fare–righteous Laura will make you understand just how awful the likes of Flo-rida, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Ellie Goulding are. (She also has harmless fun with the country group Little Big Town.) She will force you to face the fact that these song are by certain metrics currently the most popular ones, but with plenty of laughs along the way.
Here’s a taste:
Oh cool! I’m so happy I get to write about Carly Rae Jepsen some more. Carly “Raw” Jepsen.
I wish I could go back in time and play this song to White Album-era John Lennon. I wonder if it would blow his mind because it was so unlike anything he’d ever heard before, or if he’d be able to recognize that it was a regression. I want to nestle my head into the crook of White Album-era John Lennon’s neck and cry about how terrible music ended up being.
That’s from part one–here’s a bit from part two:
I thought Ellie Goulding was going to be better than this. I’m not sure why I thought that- maybe because she played at the Royal Wedding? That happened, right? I’m pretty sure that happened. I thought she was going to be more like Adele. Why isn’t Adele one of the Top Ten most downloaded songs on iTunes? I have a lot of nice things to say about Adele.
This song is validating my decision to exist in a safe-space-bubble of Beatles & Bolan & Bowie. How could a person ever choose this over “Let It Bleed” or “The Village Green Preservation Society?” A lyric she just sang sounded like “This donkey’s too hot to eat,” and I hoped it was, but then I looked up the lyrics and it turns out it’s “The dark is too hard to beat”- I doubt that’s true. I doubt Ellie Goulding is suffering from clinical depression; I’m sure she’s rich and boring and happy.
I usually don’t go for this sort of writing, but Laura Jane sure pulls it off here.
P.S. Kate, you might find Laura’s reaction to Flo-rida (in pt. 2) interesting, as a specimen of how a presumably liberal hip-30-something woman finds our porny culture backing her into a more socially conservative stance.