Saturday, April 29, 2006

In New York City, there is now an installation piece based, in part, on one of my favorite scenes in literature, the long, long bathroom scene between Zooey and Bessie in Salinger's Franny and Zooey. Or at least it was one of my favorite scenes. I haven't read it in a while, and since Salinger often winds up as a passing fancy for adolescents of a certain disposition... perhaps a Seminal Novels of My Misspent Youth entry is warranted someday.

Read about the installation here.

Bonus trivia: For my screenwriting class in college, I wrote a 30-page adaptation of that scene. It was fun.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Less than a year ago, I wrote about a Philly production of a Randy Newman musical. Now here's a story about a Philly production of a Kinks musical. I'm really looking forward to next year's Philly production of a Pulp musical.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

As promised, here are some photos from the Art Brut show at the First Unitarian Church, April 7, 2006. Due to my deficiency in the height department, I had to do some fairly severe cropping to get the back/tops of fellow concertgoers' heads out of these shots. These are the first photos to appear on this blog, and they may be the last! Well, they will be until I get a digital camera. Still, the show was awesome. Art Brut -- Top, as they say, of the Pops!

For years, I thought Elvis Costello’s “Poor Napoleon” was a near-perfect song, except for one incredibly bad line – “Just like that place where they take your spine/and turn it into soap flakes.” Then, last night we watched Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas. I realized that “Poor Napoleon” – full of heightened drama and murmured threats – was perhaps Costello’s ultimate film-noir song, even more than “Watching the Detectives.” That line was just Costello’s version of the kind of thing that would come out of hardened, wised-up gangster's mouth, or his girlfriend’s.

Thank you, Robert Mitchum. Thank you.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I’ve gotten the “Anglophile” tag thrown at me more than once, and most of the time, I’m happy to slap that “Hello My Name Is…” right on my Oxford shirt pocket. That said, most of the time I just don’t get the U.K. music scene. How do you explain the enormous overhype-on-steroids treatment of the semi-promising Arctic Monkeys? Then, how do you wrap your head around the very next Next Big Thing -- “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley (from the U.S., natch) -- which actually turns out to be a fantastic song?

A side note: You can buy this song from ITunes U.K., but not U.S. I thought the online music emporium to end them all would render geography moot.

And on the subject of British music: Coming soon to this blog, some pictures from Art Brut’s Philly show from April 7, once I get some, uh, technical issues sorted out.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I used to have a little feature on this blog about Perfect Pop. For some reason, I don't feel like restarting that engine, but I want to give a little shout of approval to Paul Westerberg's "Eyes Like Sparks."

Just stay where you are
Baby stay away from me
With your eyes like sparks
And my heart like gasoline

That's the whole song -- that verse repeated over and over under a loping Keith Richards groove, with a single guitar solo in the middle. It's all over in little over two minutes. I love how it achieves all of the below so concisely:

1) It's a song about being hypnotized that is itself hypnotizing. Each time Westerberg repeats his verse, it goes from admonishion to self-admonishion until you feel him finally realize the futility of his plaint.

2) Maybe you like those words in cold, hard computer text and maybe you don't. But its own repetitions and odd-but-right simile sound great out of PW's voice, under the rough guide of the music.

3) It pares down the theme of so many of his (and other people's) songs into something koan-like, and you get a sense of the mysterious combination of craft and intuition that seprates great songwriters from nearly adequete ones.

4) Its repetitions belong wholly to the song. He's not Kraftwerking or trying to be John Cage or anything like that.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Another song review here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Well, this is a first, for a whole number of reasons.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Scroll down here for a little pick on a big show. (Well, I think it's a big show.) Also, a song review missing the byline -- for now anyway.