It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. But, but, but… My far-flung friends are doing important work, and getting published for it, so it’s time to sing their praises.
Over at Glide Magazine, my dear friend Dan Couch (Portland, OR) writes about a song—Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair”—that meant a lot to us in high school, and means a lot (though in very different ways) to us now. His essay goes long on how we decide on our musical tastes, how they get decided for us, and the bands who explore that tension:
The song has yet another type of listener in mind — their own fans who might have a problem with Pavement’s entry into the mainstream. There’s a palpable disdain for both of these kinds of fans throughout, satirizing those who tell others what to do with their hair but still enjoy a “pretty nice hair cut” themselves or who shrug off deeper analysis because the “drummer’s hair” is so enchanting. In the last verse, Malkmus sings flatly the song’s most direct message, “songs are bought and so are you.” To music fans ready to cry “sell out!” due to Pavement’s greater exposure and for those ready to embrace them for the standard 15 minutes and no longer, “Cut Your Hair” is a cutting rejoinder — an anti-single that functions as an anthem of disavowal of their own fame and reminds fans of their own complicity in a music industry that fosters reactive, passive listening.
Also, there’s cute stuff about toddlers shouting indie-rock lyrics in the kitchen.
At Lent Mag, David “Gorjus” McCarty (Jackson, MS) goes deep on long nights in Alabama, classic rock, and finding magic on the radio dial:
The call-in hours on the radio were our favorites. If you really needed to hear something you could mash the buttons as fast as possible on a Conair phone or even spin the dial at your grandparents’ house, hoping that you’d get through. It was nearly always busy, nearly every time we called. We’d applaud when someone we knew got through on the line and requested something deep in the catalog (like anything by Pink Floyd other than “Money”), when we had a friend banned from calling I-95 for contantly requesting “One” by Metallica.
Edward Stephens (Athens, GA) has been having a field day at Bookslut over the past few months. In the April 2014 issue, he got in a feature, “The Human Skeptic: A Primer on Patrick White,” on the Australian Nobel Laureate:
Voss the man is a shambles, but Voss the book is a thrilling romance. Its setting is mid-nineteenth century Australia, a time when white Australians lived only in coastal settlements and the surrounding farmlands. The largest portion of the novel is an account of Voss’s great idea: an expedition to the terra incognita. Such journeys are the stuff of the best adventure stories, and Voss is traditional in this respect. The party endures exposure, illness, and fatigue; they ford a high river; they suffer through the dry season; they engage the natives in battle and diplomacy. Violence, cunning, and determination rule the day — only there’s a wryness in the delivery, a subversive note not unlike the knowing farce of Cormac McCarthy’s bloody westerns. Voss cherishes leadership, but he is not much of a leader. The expedition is at all times shedding its supplies, instruments, livestock, and even members — to death and mutiny alike — with reckless abandon, continuing the trend of withering begun by Voss’s missing teeth.
Get outta here. Go read ‘em.