May 17, 2010
Memories of 70's Hits
LYNN ANDERSON／Greatest Hits
1.If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away) #5Hit
2.Promises, Promises #4Hit
3.No Another Time #8Hit
4.Big Girls Don't Cry #12Hit
5.Flattery Will Get You Everywhere #11Hit
6.That's a No No #2Hit
7.I've Been Everywhere #16Hit
8.Rocky Top #17Hit
9.Stay There 'Til I Get There #7Hit
10.Rose Garden #1Hit
11.You're My Man #1Hit
12.How Can I Unlove You #1Hit
14.Listen to a Country Song #4Hit
15.Fool Me #4Hit
16.Keep Me in Mind #1Hit
17.Top of the World #2Hit
18.Sing About Love #3Hit
19.Talkin' to the Wall #7Hit
20.What a Man My Man Is #1Hit
21.He Turns It into Love Again #13Hit
22.Wrap Your Love All Around Your Man #12Hit
23.It Isn't Always Love #10Hit
24.Sea of Heartbreak #33Hit
「If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away)」はメロディがキュートなポップ・カントリー。リンのママ、リズ・アンダーソンの作品です。
「That's a No No」はグラミーを獲得したチャ－リー・プライドの
「Kiss An Angel Good Morning」をはじめ多くの名曲を手がけた
「I've Been Everywhere」は州の名前を早口で歌いまくる楽しい曲。
「You're My Man」はリンの当時のダンナ、グレン・サットンの
「.Sing About Love」や「He Turns It into Love Again」
「How Can I Unlove You」は「Rose Garden」の作者、ジョー・サウス
「Top of the World」はカーペンターズでおなじみのナンバー。
A summer of lust in a Tuscan castle
Martin Amis talked to us about his new novel. He’s not sure he’ll be talking about it in Britain.by Mike Doherty on Thursday, May 13, 2010
In a corner of Martin Amis’s living room in London, watched over by elegantly sombre paintings, stands a bright-orange pinball machine called Eye of the Tiger. “It’s a really good one,” says the renowned novelist. “I’m getting worse and worse at it. All that flow of youth is gone.”
At 60, Amis increasingly finds himself in a retrospective mood. He’s too irreverent to be an éminence grise, but he’s no longer the notorious enfant terrible of English letters. Lately, he’s been helping to nurture the talents of budding authors at the University of Manchester and Toronto’s Humber School for Writers, and in his new novel, The Pregnant Widow, his famously coruscating humour is more benign than ever before, leaving ample room for emotion.
And yet, in the British press, the sport of Amis-baiting, which reached an apex in 1995 (when Amis left his long-time agent and obtained a £500,000 advance for his novel The Information), continues apace. “It happens to me whether I’ve got a book coming out or not,” he notes wearily, his basso drawl barely rising above the sound of the cars passing outside. “And the more I speak in public and give interviews, then obviously the more grist there is.” This January, such grist was provided by a Sunday Times profile, where Amis suggested public euthanasia booths could help Britain deal with the upcoming “silver tsunami” of an aging population. Tabloids immediately stirred up a “feud” by quoting the reactions of anti-euthanasia pressure groups.
“I’m seriously thinking of not doing interviews in this country for the next book,” says Amis, “just to see if it’s any better.” He feels that the British press conceives of him and his late father, Lucky Jim author Kingsley, as “one entity,” and that they’ve had enough of the “Amis franchise”: “I’ve just been around too long. They’ve been telling me since I was 40 that my powers have gone.”
That said, British reviews of The Pregnant Widow have generally been positive. The novel looks back from a contemporary perspective on the sexual revolution of the hippie era. Protagonist Keith Nearing (the latest in a long line of comically treated “Keiths” in Amis’s fiction) spends the summer of 1970 reading canonical English novels in a Tuscan castle where he’s staying with his long-suffering girlfriend, Lily, and their friends. At one point, the 20-year-old university student undergoes a “sexual trauma” which is, we’re told, “the opposite of torture, yet . . . It ruined him for 25 years.”
With an abundance of playful literary allusions, Amis writes of what happens when emotion is dissociated from sex—a theme he first approached in 1984’s Money, his most acclaimed work. In fact, The Pregnant Widow is shot through with elements of his earlier fiction, from its leisurely country house setting (1975’s Dead Babies) to the presence of a duplicitous femme fatale (1989’s London Fields) to bittersweet meditations on mortality (The Information). The lustful, scheming, literature-obsessed Keith recalls the protagonist of his creator’s 1973 debut, The Rachel Papers, a novel which Amis now finds “laughably crude” and “technically clumsy.” In one’s “evolution as a writer,” he says, “the musicality and pyrotechnic prose”—defining elements of his earlier fiction—“sort of thin out. What gets very good is your craft, the sense of what goes where.”
The Pregnant Widow started out as an attempt to recast parts of Amis’s life, which he first chronicled in his memoir Experience (2000), as fiction. And while he eventually shrugged off the “shackles” of fact, a few of the novel’s characters are directly modelled on departed friends and family, including his sister, Sally, who died at age 46 in 2000. Her fictional alter ego’s addictive personality and promiscuity are peripheral to the book’s plot, but she occupies the novel’s emotional centre. Keith, meanwhile, shares Amis’s birthday and his below-average height, but the author stresses his book “isn’t autobiographical.”
Keith, Amis notes, “is a provincial, illegitimate orphan. What I had to attack in that character was any sense of entitlement.” And in doing so, he used the weapon that has served him best over the years, and that allows him to oppose the slings and arrows of the British press: comedy. “When I read these miserable, po-faced, prize-winning novelists,” says Amis, “I think, ‘You’re deluding yourself if you think you’re getting anything out of this.’ It’s a really crippled response to what being alive is, if you don’t find it funny. You’re on the wrong planet.”
May 16, 2010
Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.
Barbara Mandrell, Lynn Anderson, Ralph Emery, Patti Page, Steve Holy, Jeffrey Steele,
Donna Fargo, Jeff Cook of Alabama, Marty Raybon, Jett Williams and Many More to
‘Stop & Smell the Roses' in Public Ceremony at the ‘Garden of the Stars'
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - September 9, 2009-On September 29, 2009, Nashville, Tenn. will become the official home of the world's first public garden to honor entertainment icons with a display of namesake flowers. The Nashville Music Garden, located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Demonbreun in the Hall of Fame Park (across from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum) is a one-of-a-kind "Garden of the Stars" that pays tribute to the artists, songwriters, authors, television personalities, industry leaders, venues, organizations, and icons who have made a positive impact on Nashville's entertainment community.
The Nashville Music Garden is home to the Nashville Music Garden Collection, an assortment of over six dozen flowering plants whose names include Barbara Mandrell, Grand Ole Opry, Minnie Pearl, Pretty Woman, Purple Haze, Elvis, Ring of Fire, Tennessee Waltz, Alabama, Chantilly Lace, Dolly Parton, Kiss an Angel Good Morning, Hank Williams, Reba McEntire and Amy Grant, just to name a few.
“I feel truly blessed to be part of the Nashville Music Garden. The garden will both add to the beautification of Music City as well honor Nashville’s best!” explains Barbara Mandrell. An avid gardener herself, the Nashville Music Garden has been her passion project for over three years. “It is so wonderful to see all of this hard work come into bloom,” states Mandrell. “I am thrilled to be a part of the Nashville Music Garden. There are plenty of eye-sores in the world. Thank goodness for people who fight back with flowers. God bless ‘em!” says Pam Tillis, another celebrated artist of the garden.
The star-studded open-to-the-public dedication ceremony, which begins at 10:30 AM on Tuesday, September 29, will be emceed by long-standing country music television personality Ralph Emery. Recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Barbara Mandrell and Grammy award-winner Lynn Anderson will serve as celebrity hosts. Other celebrities confirmed to attend are Patti Page, Donna Fargo, Steve Holy, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jeff Cook of Alabama, Irlene Mandrell, Marty Raybon, Janice Wendell, Joe Moscheo of the Imperials (Elvis Presley), Gunnar Nelson, songwriters Jeffrey Steele, Shane Minor, Bart Allmand and Buzz Cason, and the families of songwriter Ben Peters, The Big Bopper, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, DeFord Bailey, Minnie Pearl and Jimi Hendrix with more to be announced in the coming weeks. Officials from the State of Tennessee and Mayor Karl Dean will also be in attendance.
The first 500 attendees will receive long-stemmed Rio Roses and biscuits from the Loveless Cafe. The event is FREE and open to the public. For more information, visit www.nashvillemusicgarden.com.
The Nashville Music Garden will serve as an impressive collection of roses and daylilies as well as a mixture of music and beauty. Nashvillians, and all Tennesseans, will find this garden a place of which to be proud. Furthermore, it is important to applaud the vision of the LifeWorks Foundation and its supporters in creating this outstanding place of environmental beauty,” explains Derrick Smith of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
“Essentially, what we’ve created is a place where people can literally take time from their busy day to ‘stop and smell the roses,’ and enjoy the beauty of something which transcends today’s headlines, poor economy, crazy work schedules, family obligations and other man-made forms of stress. By embracing nature and ‘stopping to smell the roses,’ we are reminded of our own humanity and we can also learn to celebrate music and Nashville’s entertainment community in a whole new way,” states Pat Bullard of LifeWorks Foundation.
The event is presented by LifeWorks Foundation in partnership with Metro Parks & Recreation and is sponsored by Hilton Nashville Downtown, Nashville Predators Foundation, BSA, Inc. Event Services, AVI-SPL, Rio Roses, Ilex…for Flowers, WSIX, Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee, Nashville Rose Society, Nashville Symphony, RFD-TV and Loveless Cafe, with additional support from MidSouth Roses, Christie’s Daylilies, Daylily World, Grayson Couture, American Rose Society, The Cocoa Tree, Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum and At Your Service Chauffeuring.
Aug 16, 2009
Jim Dickinson RIP Barry Hannah Reads Oxford Wayne the Dog Documentary Order of Appearance Barry Hannah novelist and Ole Miss ...
Johnny Depp books 'Hand of Dante'
Actor's Infinitum Nihil acquires rights to novelJohnny Depp's production company Infinitum Nihil has acquired screen rights to the Nick Tosches novel "In the Hand of Dante." The novel will be developed as a potential star vehicle for Depp.
Depp will produce with his Infinitum Nihil partner Christi Dembrowski. The company, which has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. and Graham King's GK Films, optioned the book with its own coin.
Book revolves around Dante's masterwork "The Divine Comedy," and tells parallel storylines involving Dante in 14th-century Italy as he tries to complete the work, and a contemporary storyline involving Tosches, who is asked to authenticate what might be Dante's original manuscript. Depp would play Tosches. The novel was published in 2002.
Depp, who is playing the Mad Hatter in the Tim Burton-directed "Alice in Wonderland," has a dance card that includes toplining another "Pirates of the Caribbean" film, "The Lone Ranger," and voicing the title character in the Gore Verbinski-directed animated film "Rango."
At the same time, his production company has become more ambitious, and is getting close to the starting line on its first movie.
Depp will star in March as gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in "The Rum Diary," an adaptation of the Thompson book that Infinitum Nihil is producing with GK Films, with King's company financing the picture. Bruce Robinson is directing his script. It's Depp's second turn in a Thompson tale; he starred in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."
Infinitum Nihil also is working with GK Films and WB on a film transfer of "Dark Shadows" that will have Depp playing Barnabas Collins; an adaptation of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" that will be directed by Chris Wedge; an adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts book "Shantaram" that was scripted by Eric Roth; and "The Bomb in My Garden," the Mahdi Obeidi/Kurt Pitzer book that has a script by Robert Edwards. Infinitum Nihil also is developing an adaptation of "Inamorata" that was scripted by the book's author, Joseph Gangemi.
With his first prison bid set to launch simultaneously with his first official album since Tha Carter III, it seemed an excellent time to ponder Lil Wayne. Only then, Wayne's year on Rikers Island was delayed so the rapper could, well, go to the dentist. Some speculated that Wayne has so much bling in his mouth he was removing it for safekeeping, while jayhovawitness at the Rap Radar site snapped, "Hell, I know niggas that go to jail just to get their teeth fixed." Soon another Rap Radar comedian took care of the new, rock-styled Rebirth: "Judge: Cancel the release of 'Rebirth' and we'll let you free. Wayne: OK." On February 16, however, Wayne was subjected to eight root canals along with repairs on several implants and scattered remaining original teeth, not to mention many hits of nitrous oxide or something stronger. And on March 8, Dwayne Carter did in fact go to jail, allaying suspicions that he and his new grill might ascend into heaven instead.
Even for admirers, there's a temptation to make light of Lil Wayne's legal problems. The code of the streets whence hip-hop supposedly springs defines prison as part of the life, and many rappers -- including Slick Rick, Shyne, Mystikal, and most recently and prominently T.I. -- have already been incarcerated. True, the others perpetrated crimes of violence where Lil Wayne went down on gun possession solely. But we Second Amendment relativists support gun laws, and seldom approve when rich guys walk even if they have undergone undue police scrutiny. And though we may not place much credence in the crime tales that once dominated Lil Wayne's repertoire, we sure don't believe he lives within the law. Prison? You could say he was asking for it.
But you also could say his disregard for the law is what we admire him for. Being a Lil Wayne fan renders you complicit not just in his musical and verbal compulsions but in the lifestyle of an unpackable, untrackable workaholic hedonist. Scarfing beats, slurping rhymes, verbalizing desires as boundless as language itself like they're a joke he's sharing with his crew as they all play an ESPN videogame, Lil Wayne puts so much id into his labors he could make any cop nervous -- in fact, any functioning adult. The ultimate locus of our complicity is our own infantile urges.
This complicity requires nothing like total commitment, which given Lil Wayne's uncatalogable catalogue would be a path of madness. It applies more to his high-mixtape mode, epitomized by the wild and woolly double-CD Da Drought 3, than to the formalizing double-platinum Tha Carter III, which perfected if not tamed that mode. And it requires no identification with the biographical Lil Wayne. M.I.A. and Kanye West I care about -- their thought processes are something like mine. Lil Wayne belongs to some other species -- and that is central to who he is, what he does, and how he presents himself. Maybe it's the dope. Or maybe it's just Lil Wayne.
Biographically, Dwayne Carter is a 27-year-old from New Orleans who's been rapping professionally since he was 12. Although thug money certainly got him started, there's no evidence he put in minute one "on the grind," to cite a title from 2000's Lights Out. Wayne owns luxury residences in New Orleans, Miami, and Atlanta, and has fathered four children by four different women, the last three born in 2008 or 2009. He chain-smokes blunts and has a taste for codeine-based cough syrup. He's a sports nut and an Animal Planet fan. But the really interesting stuff is his catalogue-that-isn't-a-catalogue.
In my iTunes folder subsist some 165 Lil Wayne songs, all of which went public after 2005's Tha Carter II, a farewell from Wayne the gangsta that launched Wayne the stoned free associater. Several times recently I've played these songs five or six hours straight without once fast-forwarding. Mostly the music percolated in the background as Wayne chuckled, chortled, croaked, cackled, heckled, jeckled, sidled, slurred, Auto-Tuned, and even enunciated over beats of varying irresistibility and originality. But every once in a while a moment previously unnoticed or fondly recalled would pop to the forefront: the mock-romantic Prince sample I'd never cared for, the triumphal Mike Jones sample I know in no other guise, the in-their-face seizure of the Beatles' "Help," some scat joke I'd missed, the endless threats to eat MCs, the murderous "Problem Solver" I first heard the day after my father died, the "Hip hop is mine now what you gonna do/I can jump on any nigga's song and make a part two." But except for Tha Carter III you can't buy any of this music, all of which has outlived its commercial function of seeding demand, and except for the late-2009 No Ceilings mixtape, you also can't download it gratis from any website I have the temerity to introduce to my hard drive. Friends less protective of their computers' immune systems report that they're easy to nab from peer-to-peer networks. Proceed at your own risk. I didn't send you.
These complications pertain because, as even casual observers are dimly aware, Lil Wayne acquired three luxury residences, three babymamas, double-platinum certification, untold blunts, and the attention of many police departments by recording every day and giving the results away. I owe my familiarity with this promotional material to the kindness of younger friends who violated their own best-practice guidelines by burning me CDs of it; the late-2009 No Ceilings I managed to download free with some help, after which I braved sendspace.com to obtain the earlier The Leak 6 from yet another younger friend. As a music critic I should get over this ineptitude. But I'm betting many readers here can identify -- for non-initiates, free-music-for-all is often a false rumor that's more trouble than it's worth. And nevertheless, in 2006 and 2007, Lil Wayne put out more great songs than you or I will ever hear -- songs enjoyable by anyone with no principled objection to impromptu, casually connected rhymes rife with obscenities, N-words, female dogs, garden tools, and general braggadocio.
Some of these were cameos, usually in the form of 16s he'd guest-drop for 100 grand a pop. Others were the kind of back-patting duets that mixtapes like his overrated Dedication 2 and recent The Leak 6 are larded with. But many more were pure Wayne, free downloads that included many supposed "previews" from the oft-delayed and so-worth-waiting-for Tha Carter III. Having secured four or five CDs worth all at once in early 2007, I found them hard to get my mind around. True, many jacked well-known dance and hip-hop beats that should have helped, but as someone who only dips into that world, rarely could I ID them, and even today I can't name half the tracks on Da Drought 3, which is among my favorite albums of the decade. Critics aren't supposed to cop to such ignorance, and there are certainly scholars who have mastered (almost) every detail. But to me it feels like the right approach to an oeuvre in which superfluity is of the essence.
Take Da Drought 3's "Walk It Out," which I'd never thought about before it came on as I completed the previous graf. Based on a stripper-ready DJ Unk track (I Googled that), it ends each of the 22 lines of its first half with a two-syllable short-u rhyme: stunner, stomach, rubbers, woman, dungeon, fun-ya (???), Bunyan, construction, seduction, discussion, trust ya, fuck ya, fuck ya (yup, twice), busta, touch ya, Usher, Russia, flush ya, crusher, gusher, production, abduction. You may think these aren't all rhymes, but Wayne disagrees, and puts their music where his mouf is. The content is mostly sexual insults and boasts targeting unnamed rappers, some wittier than others. But the beat is beguilingly unstable -- now elaborated, now deconstructed -- and the verbal mood outrageous and unlikely rather than crass or obscene, though the two options do cohabit. Always there's the sense that this is word play -- that Wayne has diddled the "street" "reality" of hip-hop convention until a convention is all it remains. Dope, sex, money, sucker MCs, and murder turned cannibalism -- all dope themes to hang rhymes off.
"The microphone wet cuh my words like seduction," Wayne spits, summing up my argument in eight juicy words, and then later giggles us humans a future: "I am just a Martian get prepared for abduction." This matter-of-fact view of his own unfixed species identification was perfected, sort of, on Tha Carter III's "Phone Home." The wordplay begins with the E.T.-referencing title, which reinforces the trademark childishness of Lil Wayne's nevertheless gravelly drawl and sets a storybook mood for the introductory "We are not the same I am a Martian." Second verse, the last word shifts to "alien," which is in turn sound-shifted toward famed alien Elian Gonzalez, who in early 2008 was in the news for having joined the Young Communist Union in his unphonable Cuban home. Whoever did or didn't get this, it's no accident that Wayne quickly juxtaposes the phrase "Gonzalez young college student" (actually high school, but then he wouldn't have two "oll" sounds). What it "means," of course, is itself. It's one of uncounted superfluous moments in a song about devouring MCs after the manner of the alien in that movie Alien, a song that concludes: "I can eat them for supper/Get in my spaceship and hover, hover."
Dwayne Carter is high a lot, and Lil Wayne hovers a lot. "I am sitting on the clouds/I got smoke coming from my seat/I can play basketball with the moon/I got the whole world at my feet," whispers the mixtape-only "I Feel Like Dying" after a chipmunk vibrato singsongs an eerie "Only once the drugs are done/That I feel like dying, I feel like dying." If I've ever been this high, which I doubt, it was 40 years ago. But I consider this voice-and-percussion lament Lil Wayne's greatest track -- playful, he keeps heh-hehing, yet also suicidal, as if the marijuana, cognac, codeine, wine, and Xanax he namechecks are a reason for living that will someday plunge him into a cold dark sea. You don't have to care about Dwayne Carter the person to notice this theme. Flying images recur almost as often as eating images, and often the escape they describe is from life, not into freedom. It's like his id has a flipside.
But flying is fly on No Ceilings, Wayne's best mixtape in years, which repeats the title in all 14 rhymes and cites the Notorious B.I.G.: "There is no ceilings, there's only the sky, and the sky is the limit, Christopher Wallace said that." Improving beats from Dirty South one-shots and serving beats from Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, and the Black Eyed Peas, this is a gift except when some dolt like Tyga or Jae Milz gets a verse -- the initiate's alternative to the Young Money crew album he co-executive-produced for the big label in December. But though the boasts are mostly prime and the rhymes fun enough, it's all pretty surface -- there's nothing as tricky as "Walk It Out," much less "I Feel Like Dying." And the occasional references to his forthcoming change of venue are strictly by the book. "If it costs to be the boss then I guess I gotta pay." Right.
Rebirth is much less fun, especially on two flabbergasting songs where Wayne gets back at girls who dissed him in high school. In fact, it could be the worst-reviewed album by a name artist since Metal Machine Music—inevitably, Tha Carter III's megasales soured some initiati, and the Auto-Tuned outpourings of Wayne's inner Kurt Cobain provide a great place to vent. But riding guitar that makes DJ Unk sound like a genius, Wayne -- who is in fact a longtime Cobain fan -- clearly sees "rock" as a conduit for "serious" feelings disrespected on the streets: romantic self-pity, yes, but also rat-race angst, existential rage, and, strikingly, suicidal fantasies straight up. Not just "I could die now, rebirth motherfucker/Hop up in my spaceship and leave earth motherfucker," which is strong enough, but "Let's jump out of a window/Let's jump off a building baby."
Maybe Wayne's bid will be all push-ups and sit-ups, as No Ceilings claims. Maybe it'll even be good for him. But for someone so long on id, it might also be more than he can take -- even more than he's willing to take. Suddenly I find myself caring about Lil Wayne the person.
By Robert Christgau
In which two bands with albums in my top 25 of the '00s achieve major-label distribution and Honorable Mention shortfall simultaneously. Sometimes this job can break your heart. In which two country coots even older than me, one gone and one hanging in there, release albums that should make anyone grateful to be alive. Sometimes this job can brace your heart.
Table of Contents
- Balkan Beat Box: 'Blue Eyed Black Boy'
- 'Beatles Beginnings'
- Johnny Cash: 'American VI: Ain't No Grave'
- Cornershop: 'Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast'
- Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip: 'The Logic of Chance'
- Merle Haggard: 'I Am What I Am'
- MC Esoteric: 'Saving Seamus Ryan'
- Quasi: 'American Gong'
- Surfer Blood: 'Astro Coast'
- Honorable Mentions: Drive-By Truckers, Broken Bells and More
- Choice Cuts: Gorillaz and More
- Dud of the Month: MGMT's "Congratulations"
- More Duds: Jakob Dylan and More
To can the first-person taboo and proceed to the main event: fuck yes I have a personal interest in the books that follow. Not just because all involve rock criticism and I am Der Dean (sorry, it just came out of my mouth on two A&M gin-and-tonics, 12-step here I come), but because in two of the three I am explicitly and persistently attacked. So, having been offered extra space by this journal's editor-in-chief--he wanted a a cover piece, me scowling in my Special Ed T-shirt: IF MELTZER DISSES THE DOLLS AGAIN I WILL FUCK UP HIS HARD DRIVE--I would be disingenuous not to address a couple of grating factual issues.
Listen up, Jim DeRogatis. When I threw that piece of pie (not my "dinner," the food line was long) at Ellen Willis, it wasn't because, as Willis with her Handy Dandy Theory Generator lets you suggest, I wanted to maintain the sexist status quo of "gender relations in rock-critic land." The motives I experienced were no more noble but a lot more personal, and to find out what they were (and then assay their crediblility) you need merely have asked. I know you're big on journalistic ethics, so write this one on your wrist: Check The Source. (It's real useful when you have an unidentified third party provide uncorroborated off-the-record poolside repartee by someone--not me, Neil Strauss, remember?--who makes you so jealous you could shit.) (Reached by telephone, DeRogatis denied that he was jealous of Strauss.)
As for Richard Meltzer, right now let me say this. Meltzer complains, bitterly, that "30-40 times" over "seven years," he asked me and the true inventor of rock criticism, Richard Goldstein, whether he could "FUCKING WRITE FOR THEM" (i.e., US, presumably HERE). I don't recall this, and neither does Goldstein, not least because neither of us was a Voice editor until 1974. We could put in a word for someone we loved, as I did for my dear friend Tom Smucker, an equally eccentric and valuable voice back then, and when Goldstein had his own mag briefly, Meltzer was in it. But we couldn't assign until we became editors. Whereupon we acted. Meltzer led the second music section I edited, 8/8/74 (Vince Aletti on the J5 got 8/1), one of his three appearances before 10/1.
I dunno--maybe Meltzer's from Triton and I'm from Uranus. 'Umble Queens boys though we both were, at some one-on-one level we never did relate. Which is why Meltzer has it 180 degrees wrong when he begrudgingly allows as how I liked him "personally . . . and to some degree professionally." Truth is, I considered Meltzer an antisocial jerk, and please read "Handsome Dick Throws the Party of the Century" before calling me a goody-goody. As a writer, however, I thought he was terrific. And it turns out he was only warming up.
In a famous phrase--it rhymes--James Wolcott once dubbed Lester Bangs, the subject of DeRogatis's Let It Blurt, and Meltzer, whose "rockwriting" has now been collected as A Whore Just Like the Rest, "the Noise Boys." And while Bangs's drinking buddy and Meltzer's drinking best friend Nick Tosches serves a sterner muse, his bedrock faith in "the saxophone whose message transcends knowing" places The Nick Tosches Reader in the territory even though it's less than half music writing. The three never blew the same horn; as DeRogatis quips, they were "individually dissimilar." But they were all partisans of rock at its noisiest--culture as ecstatic disruption. "Fuck the tradition, I want the Party," Bangs declared in 1971. "A touchstone of genuwine liberation," Meltzer recalled in 1986. Maybe even, as Tosches recollected in the forced tranquility of 1991, "a cold hard blue-veined cock right up under the tie-dyed skirts of benighted sensitivity." And the minute rock stopped delivering the requisite Skullbustium, the Noise Boys shouted their pain. As usual, Bangs was softer on this than the other two, enmeshed in a life-drama of musical betrayal and reconciliation until he goddamn died. But like Meltzer and Tosches he dreamed of escaping rockcrit and becoming a "real writer."
Tosches has succeeded royally. A master crime reporter whose manner yokes Homer, Hemingway, and some '60s tit magazine I'm not literate enough to ID, author of a comical, biblical Jerry Lee Lewis bio that trumps Albert Goldman coming and Peter Guralnick going, he is just shy of famous--his Dean Martin book on its way to the movies, an investigative assignment inflated into the current The Devil and Sonny Liston. Meltzer has failed brilliantly. A writer of barbwire hilarity and recondite formal daring whose Kantian yawp doubles back on itself three times a sentence as it blows all decent expository standards up the hemorrhoids of history, he's pure cult figure, so strapped for cash he's still compelled to concoct a dadaist preview squib for 75 of the San Diego Reader's niggardly Georges a week. As for Bangs, he should be so unlucky. When he died in 1982, he was still churning out record reviews as he dreamed of (and worked on) novels, memoirs, stream-of-consciousness screeds, and treatises exposing man's inhumanity to man. Although his legend as a substance-ingesting fabulous character exceeds Tosches's and Meltzer's combined, nothing in his work or story, including the craving for transcendence all three have known too well, suggests that he wouldn't rather be alive.
Instead he got his best-of early: Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, edited (solely) by Greil Marcus, published in what would have been Lester's 39th year, 1987, and not yet pecked to death by the many geese who've stuck their yellow noses in. And now he gets a biography as well. The legend is a lousy substitute for the words--my best hope for Let It Blurt is that it will spark a second anthology. Still, DeRogatis has gathered his facts with gusto. As someone who knew Lester, I found the account of his early years poignant and then some, and, whatever my quibbles, the rest of the narrative is readable, scrupulously researched, and fair enough--affectionate without romanticizing Lester's tragic, destructive . . . not "excesses," to hell with that, vices. Wonderful photos, too. But--well, here comes the first person again. Early on, DeRogatis quotes me as saying, "His critical ideas were not the strength; it was the language that was the strength," then stoutly ripostes, "I disagree." I braced myself, but the follow-through never came. The few ideas DeRogatis cites at all--boo irony, boo academia, the beauty of ugliness, rock's democratic imperative--are elementary. Even Bangs's style is barely explored; I wonder how many who weren't there will suss that he was one of the funniest writers on the planet. The book's few striking critical insights come from interviewees, particularly Meltzer. And be this journalistic principle or intellectual aptitude, it has as its consequence a response to Let It Blurt that assumes Lester's writing and raves on about his legend.
It was to refocus on his words that this piece was initially conceived. Just how good was Lester Bangs, and why? Marcus, that sobersides, famously claimed of Psychotic Reactions: "Perhaps what this book demands from a reader is a willingness to believe that the best writer in American could write almost nothing but record reviews." Note that this is not the same as claiming Bangs was the best writer in America--and that Marcus wouldn't mind if you got that idea. On the other hand, after Meltzer belittlingly compares Bangs to such "dregs of beat" as Ray Bremser and Ted Joans, he doubles back, grandly and slyly adding: "(He also of course found USE for Céline and Bukowski.)" No admirer of Bukowski or fan of Céline, I don't find that especially far-fetched. Then again, I do have a weakness for record reviews, and would be hard-pressed to gainsay some lit crit who found Bukowski and Céline more "relevant." But Bremser and Joans? In my dream world, even a lit crit could make that call. And although Tosches pumps Meltzer's big Bangs piece as the class of the field, I prefer his own little one, which fondly sums up the "hayseed"'s three obsessions--writing, music, and communication--and concludes: "he was a nice guy."
This basic observation doesn't partake of DeRogatis's "St. Lester," a straw myth no one believes in. It simply respects the openheartedness people fell for, in person and on the page. Meltzer is so set on reestablishing the self-abuse, hostility, egomania, and b.o. the nice guy and his legend made too much of that he short-changes the sweet stuff, and so there's something conflicted about his g'bye. Lester's writing--his self-mocking confessionals, left-field generalizations, free-form metaphors, effortless epithets, and boffo laugh lines, all flowing like a river of Romilar or a Coltrane solo--touched readers in a place his legend never reached. Between the two he became more notorious and beloved than Meltzer ever could be while ringing changes on a method of outrage Meltzer isn't crazy to think he got to first. But Meltzer has never come near Bangs's well nigh Dickensian flow--few have. And for a long time he didn't approach Bangs's heart either. It was his heart, heart that never compromised his tremendous intelligence and always fed off his humor and his endless love of music (here signifying merely "his subject," or "the world"), that made Bangs the wonder he was.
One rock and roll thing about Bangs was his gift for juicing commonplaces--hype! alienation! spontaneous bop prosody! (youth! sex! the big beat!)--with the freshness of his idiom and the intensity of his convictions. That's why I believe his language subsumes his ideas. But he was also a gusher of musical connection and description who in the right mood could hear just about anything anew. In the right mood, Meltzer can be an even better, very different critic-qua-critic. The Nick Tosches Reader, however, gives us something else--a great music reporter, with narrow tastes and an overview captured in its entirety by the title of his Bangla-Desh putdown: "The Heartbeats Never Did Benefits."
As a devotee of the journalistic collection as literary genre, yes I said yes I will Yes to the Michele Sindona prolegomenon, the Carly Simon interview, the Burroughs-Hoover tour de force, the meta-ironic send-up of Love Story, the awesome George Jones profile The New Yorker rejected in its infinite gentility. In toto, however, this 593-page monster is a bold-faced mishmash, full of dull stuff (much of it from men's magazines, although the stump-fucking fantasies 'tis rumored he penned for Penthouse Forum are absent) calculated to prove how much realer a writer he's become. In controlled doses I love the high-low particularities, heroic rhythms, and sardonic bite of his prose. But after 593 pages--plus the skillful 1988 literary thriller Cut Numbers and The Devil and Sonny Liston heaping contumely on Muhammad Ali and the pinkos who love him--I was plumb worn out. If you believe Philip Roth, Peter Matthiessen, and Hubert Selby, Jr. are our only great living writers, Der Dean isn't gonna stop you from making "There is no new thing under the sun" your fucking mantra. But what kind of careful craftsman repeats such a wheeze over and over? a writer who prides himself on going against the grain should recognize that anyone who devises a fresh way to say the world cannot change will eventually be rewarded by rich people who hope he's right. Tosches's novel-in-progress looks strong. I sincerely hope it goes against the grain. And if instead he gets mired in his "vision," he was still right to forsake rockwrite. The passion is not in him.
With Meltzer this is a far more complicated question. Although I helped select him the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' music critic of the year for 1995, that three-article submission was all I'd seen of his non-Voice journalism since he moved to L.A. in 1975; I didn't even know he'd published 1988's accurately entitled L.A. Is the Capital of Kansas. So I downed that 246-page collection after polishing off the 575-page A Whore Just Like the Rest, and as a fan of the genre enjoyed it fine--the hamburger reviews, the boxing piece, the sexcapades, and especially the tender "Silent Nite(s)" and the nothing-happened " . . . and Crazy for Loving You" toward the end. But A Whore Just Like the Rest is so superior to this alien-in-paradise miscellany as to render Meltzer's vituperative contempt for current music and its criticism something like a tragedy.
Now, since almost all the many things Meltzer says about me and mine are, not to call him a bad word, misunderstood or misremembered--Stranded, Greil's Aesthetics of Rock intro, my Little Richard T-shirt, my intimacy with his oeuvre, and his place at the Voice (where I'll give him half of Eric Dolphy)--maybe he's equally untrustworthy across the board. But though Meltzer does go on about Truth, he's not in the trust business. He's selling ideas by the bucketful, mockery of that there, jokes for jokes' sake, a word born every minute, a childish refusal to curb his orality, his own pud-pulling, panty-snagging genius. He wasn't a token of my tolerance, much less (so defensive!) "a vulgar exhibit" in my "proto-multiculture briefcase." He was an essential argument, the most extreme available, for what I'll retrospectively dub impolite discourse, a concept that encompasses all rock criticism then and (Anthony DeCurtis excepted, of course) much of it now--only marginally more unacceptable to literate bowwows than Tom Smucker or Ed Naha, but manifestly more brilliant and offensive, hence much harder to take. If you weren't threatened by noise, Meltzer wouldn't bother you. If you were, you would have to confront the likelihood that this Yale-dropout barbarian could beat you at Scrabble with one hand and finish off your Jack Daniel's with the other.
Egomaniac that he is, Meltzer doesn't want to be anyone else's argument, certainly not mine. Yet the disgracefully cheap Voice was the nearest thing to a money gig available to a guy whose behavior and oeuvre were epitomized by his great line in a Redd Foxx review: "(Tastes rather like beef Redd and the texture sure beats sushi!)." Subject of sentence: assholes. His writing wasn't and isn't unpublishable, but at its straightest it's extremely eccentric--not even dollar-a-word stuff, especially given the author's kneejerk contempt for all editors. Impressed by the literary bad boy Tosches nails as a "con man," Meltzer has never understood why he shouldn't achieve fame and fortune commensurate with William S. Burroughs's, and his inevitable failure to do so, while improving his politics the way poverty does, has further curdled his always sour media analysis. This analysis never made him any easier to assign, not because media-bashing is verboten (these days it's the tedious coin of the rockcrit realm), but because music critics are supposed to be interested in music and Meltzer started with the rock-is-dead shit in 1968. Young people scoff when I tell them this, but although he flirted with country and fell for punk and remains an avant-jazzbo, Meltzer repeats the date many times in A Whore Just Like the Rest--all but 18 pages of which were published 1969 or later.
Professional ressentiment fed this conceit--his topic, stolen by hustlers! But basically, the egomania involved was spiritual. Rock had been Meltzer's whole world--no one has ever heard the Beatles better--and when the illusion faded he blamed rock rather than contingency, mortality, life. As a result, A Whore Like All the Rest is rife with pans of meaningless music he may not even have heard, especially in the early '70s and again in those squibs, my favorite of which boldfaces the Cigar Store Indians (?) in an addendum to a list of 55 extinct soups: Olive and Watercress, Spaghetti and Mole, Fat-Free Pantyhose, Chicken with Starch, Dawg . . . Yet for all his utterly fucked, generationally banal inability to hear Sonic Youth, Youssou N'Dour, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Mouse on Mars, or Juliana Hatfield, the music criticism here has so much vitality--an offhand take on his friends the Blasters, an insulting dead-on description of Lester's voice, a rave about the Germs (who I hate), the Bud Powell fantasia mit dump memoir he gave the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, the aleatory "Ten Cage Reviews" (his last true music column at the Reader, which fired him before he got his award). There's more, too--Voice stuff he hates/resents, the two other AAN submissions, jazz writing I've only heard about.
Meltzer used to spew everything first-draft. But in the late '70s he started "composing" laboriously, and while his prose still has the old jismy dazzle, it's also clearer, denser, less shticky. It's not all equally good, though. Journalism is that way, and although Meltzer insists indignantly that he's not a journalist, all the '90s stuff here, including a left-of-rad rant on the '92 riots, first appeared in the Reader. Maybe he can generate novels, memoirs, stream-of-consciousness screeds, and treatises exposing man's inhumanity to man. But the great virtue of journalism is that it gets writers out of themselves. Nothing will stop Meltzer from writing about himself; nothing ever has. He's always performed great tricks with his egotism, and from somebody who's become a much nicer guy, personawise--vulnerable, compassionate, evincing considerable, how about that, heart--we wouldn't want it any other way. But since I'm convinced he and music still have something special going after all these years, I would like respectfully to suggest that somebody assign him, I don't know . . . some jazz reviews? He needs the money. A second collection is probably too much to expect in this media economy; this one's miracle enough. But you never know.
One more thing. Possessed of his own Handy Dandy Theory Generator, Meltzer suggests in the long, climactic "Vinyl Reckoning" that me and Marcus give everything we praise "COOTIES." We devalue it, scare the uncontaminated away. That wasn't my intention; I loved his book long before I got there. But if I've made his head itch, well, as we used to say at Junior High School 16: "SUF-FUR!"
Village Voice, July 4, 2000