Come On

What makes ‘Come On, Eileen’ great? In the first place, plenty of people don’t think it is great, and even people who think it’s great can agree that it’s painfully overplayed. Whether you like it or not, it would probably sound better if you hadn’t heard it seventy krillion times. It’s overplayed for a reason,…

Some Things Are Important

The other day, Toots and the Maytals’ classic ‘Pomp and Pride’ (that image on the video doesn’t look like Toots Hibbert to me — hmmm, someone needs to learn that not all Black men look alike) popped into my memory-worm register, and I’ve been thinking about it and singing along since then. Nothing so surprising…

O Felix Serpens

Daniel posted his Mountain Goats talk, so I’ll join in with mine (as distinct from the longer article on tMG from several years ago): O Felix Serpens Genesis 3 in Recent Songs of John Darnielle A K M Adam St Stephen’s House Oxford University Whereas in many popular interpretations, the Bible figures as an oracular…

On A Lighter Note

I commend to your attention the Hebridean Celtic Festival BBC webcast of live performances by Admiral Fallow (if you don’t know of them yet, pay special attention so that you can out-hipster your hipster friends) and the Proclaimers, among others. (As far as I can make out, there’s no embedding, alas.) Just two days left…

Well, Alright

This morning I opened an email from someone who professed admiration for and interest in my blog — which is a good start, although that’s often the sign of a request for a link exchange, ‘maybe this would be of interest to your readers’ (as though that were more than a bedraggled few), and a…

What Makes It Good: The Beat

As Mattie Z. said in the comments to my previous post, ‘rock is all about the beat’. Can’t argue with that — both the authority of one of my oldest longest vintage music-arguing-friends and the compulsion of the beat brook no contradiction.   Instead of arguing aye or nay, let’s make some distinctions. First, there’s…

What Makes It Good

About a year ago, maybe more, our friend Rich pressed me to articulate the grounds for my music snobbery. ‘If,’ he reasoned, ‘you are going to sneer at my taste, you at least owe me an account of why your taste is better.’ [Editorial note for the sake of Truth: Rich did not say that,…

Predigital

Reading this piece from Language Log brought back memories of my semesters studying/practicing electronic music as an undergraduate. The studio had an ARP 2600, two two-track tape machines, and was coated in a film of splicing tape. That was the assignment I was trying to slide under my professor’s door (late) when the 17 April…

One Way In, No Way Out

For other fans of the Mountain Goats only: One of the members of tMG forums started a blog with review-essays about Mountain Goats albums. At first it seemed as though that would be an ample category definition, since John “New Father” Darnielle has released about 3,158 albums, EPs, supplementary collector’s item cassettes, and one-off fundraiser…

Kinesthetic Preaching

(You will not be surprised to note that I am simultaneously working on tomorrow’s sermon and listening to my iTunes DJ playlist.)   People frequently comment on the physicality of my sermons, the extent to which I preach with my full body. That comes in great part from having been taught to preach by the…

Mind Flowers

The great Amy Morrison (that link isn’t working right now, but it might start again so I’m including it anyway), two decades ago, in the context of an Honours Seminar at Eckerd College, reminded me of the classic Schoolhouse Rock quatrain, As your body grows bigger Your mind grows flowered It’s great to learn Cause…

Great Moments in Popular Music 2

I have some of the ambivalence about Graceland that many politically-concerned listeners have expressed. I admire Paul Simon’s New York craftsmanship in composing infectious, compelling pop melodies, arrangements, and lyrics; his work isn’t always to my taste, but it’s always well done. And I don’t begrudge him the brilliant contribution that his African colleagues made…