Friday, September 24, 2004

Busy busy busy all of the time

Beard is almost finished...

In the meantime, I've been a busy boy...

Aberdeen student guide - The Herald

Stirling Student guide - The Herald

Juana Molina

Damo Suzuki

The Daily Record's sub-editors have been at my reviews, but they've chopped sentences rather than bucher the prose, so that's alright. Woo-hoo! Me in Scotland's best-selling paper.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

John Kerry and The Electras

What's that wild new sound? That's right folks, it's that happening beat combo John Kerry and The Electras!

Idiot Wind

A superb review ofChristopher Ricks' preposterous attempt to place Dylan amongst the poets and professors.
Ricks's writing is hilarious and baffling in its overheated desire to intellectualise Dylan. The academic allusions are piled on thicker than the gold paint in Liberace's mansion.
A selection: "Or there's the rhyme in [the song] Mozambique of "Mozambique" with "cheek to cheek" (along with "cheek" cheekily rhyming with "cheek" there, a perfect fit). There's always something strange about place names, or persons' names, rhyming, for they don't seem to be words exactly, or at any rate are very different kinds of word from your usual word."
Yeah, like Dylan coined the phrase, "cheek to cheek"!
Compare Ricks' bletherings to Lester Bangs' brilliant excoration of the same song:
"...there are many forms of inverted, benevolent prejudice known to the liberal mentality, and I find a song like 'Mozambique" rather curious...Ah yes, a beautiful, simple people aren't they, Mr Christian? Unfettered by the corrupting complexities of civilisation, no? So primatively pure and natch'l, juck fuckin' and a'dancin' barefoot there on the beach."
Proving just how witty and erudite he is, Ricks even riffs on TS Eliot: "O o o that Dylanesque rag. So elegent. So intelligent. So Dyligent. Never negligent". Dyligent - see what he did there? Bonkers!
From the reviews and excerpts I've read, the book's glaring problem is that it fails to recognise Dylan's genius in the context of Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, hep-cat Lord Buckley, or even John Lennon. And, making the fundamental error of lit crit readings of pop, he fails to explore the words as rock lyrics. One of the great joys of Dylan is his phrasing -the venomous spits, the sarcastic drawls, the stoned cheekiness - and its relationship with the music. Ricks ignores this - it would too easily get in the way of his flights of fancy.
The reviewer, James Wolcott, rightly argues that the book has enjoyed adoration because it flatters the narcissism of the baby boomers.
There's no doubting the brilliance of Dylan's best lyrics, but I find his singular elevation to the level of poet highly iffy. Never minding the likes of Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith or Joni Mitchell, you'd never see a similar book on, say, Gil Scott Heron, Chuck D, Captain Beefheart or Hank Williams. Yet Williams' lyrics cut to the truth in a way Dylan only mastered on Blood On The Tracks. "The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky/ and as I wonder where you are, I'm so lonesome I could cry." Williams' simple poetry relates a beautiful and touching image of loneliness and longing. And it's in iambic pentameter. The "Hillbilly Shakespeare" epithet might not be so glib afterall.