Posted: 2017-11-13 18:44
You 8767 ve mentioned before that jazz is a foreign language to you. I feel the same way about bop (Gillespie, Parker, Monk, etc.). But Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald to name a few I quite enjoy. And Billie Holiday 8767 s work with Teddy Wilson and Lester in the late 85 8767 s I think is essential. I guess my question is, do you find jazz boring? Or is it similar to how you view Paul Simon ( 8775 I don 8767 t have a responsibility to like respected works 8776 ).
There 8767 s a lot of jazz I love or it seems like a lot to me, given my disability. Charlie Parker. Miles Davis, especially his soundtrack for Elevator to the Gallows. Bix Biederbeck. Billie Holiday. Chet Baker. I simply don 8767 t connect to it in an automatic and effortless way. That 8767 s a fault, not a stance. And the best book on music may be Geoff Dyer 8767 s But Beautiful.
It 8767 s been a little more than a year since you began 8766 Ask Greil. 8767 I hope I speak for many when I say it is a fan 8767 s dream come true, and I 8767 m so grateful for your generous direct responses. Could you give us your thoughts about what 8766 Ask Greil 8767 has meant to you?
Lots of fun. A great distraction. Some tough questions. I try to respond to everything immediately.
Are you a fan of boxed sets? Any in particular?
I love box sets. I love objects, especially when they involve records beat up old LPs, odd 78s. When I moved from a big house to a small house I had to dispense with most of my LPs, but I kept all of my singles.
I love box sets that are useful, like the Elvis masters series. I like box sets that are perverse, like the monstrous Bob Dylan set, The Cutting Edge. I don 8767 t like sets with seventeen sets of liner notes, unless it 8767 s the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music. There are some really terrible sets, like the Faces, or Mott the Hoople they cost a lot, you feel stupid trying to sell it back, when you ought to throw it away.
I like the ZZ Top set in the form of a tin-roof Texas barbeque joint.
Other than a passing reference in The Shape of Things to Come , I don 8767 t think I 8767 ve ever come across any words from you re: David Lynch 8767 s The Elephant Man. It sits within his filmography in an odd way: often just cited as a piece of studio-contracted work a la Dune (though I 8767 ve yet to see anyone claim Dune is actually good), glossed over quite a bit in (for instance) Dennis Lim 8767 s book length study of Lynch, yet not without its vocal adherents too (Kael loved it). And perhaps the most European of his films. Any thoughts?
I loved it when I saw it. It was so austere. I suppose I 8767 m less drawn back to it than any other Lynch movie (other than Dune , which I 8767 ve never seen, and Inland Empire , which I got so tired of, and The Straight Story , which has only one indelible scene, in the bar near the end) because it isn 8767 t American, doesn 8767 t use the American ethos mythos mind body as its terrain doesn 8767 t fill the country up with all of the unlikely characters in all the other pictures.
Found another mind-blowing fact about Chuck Berry 8767 s 8775 Promised Land: that you probably know. In 6659, the first African slaves used in the USA were forced to work on the tobacco plantations of the Tidewater area of Norfolk, Virginia, to where the Poor Boy puts in his call to the folks back home. Holy shit. A badass genius and all of the great American songwriters after him knew it.
That 8767 s amazing. Scary. He saw all around the world.
You 8767 ve written very little from what I 8767 ve seen about Exile on Main St. A short entry in Stranded and various mentions of the Robert Johnson cover. It being my favorite album of all time, I 8767 d love to hear how it holds up for you 95 years after the fact. Is it a Stones record you go to often?
I can still play it in my head track by track. 8775 Let It Loose 8776 is the one for me Jagger has never been so open. Where in 8775 Sympathy for the Devil, 8776 at the end, the whole 8775 You 8767 re to blame 8776 scat singing may be his best, this is more human: a real person, not a coiled snake. 8775 Ventilator Blues 8776 is one of the great titles what in the world does it mean or, really, where did it come from? Some broken ventilator in a car or a hotel room?
Interestingly, the outtakes that have surfaced are a complete waste of time. They got it all.
Have you written on/Do you have any thoughts on Aussie group, The Go-Betweens? Are there any other groups or artists from down under that you think can hold a candle to the rest of the world 8767 s rock pantheon?
While I 8767 ve been sparked by Australian music from the Easybeats 8767 8775 Friday on My Mind 8776 to Midnight Oil 8767 s 8775 Beds Are Burning 8776 to, most of all, Men at Work 8767 s musically perfect 8775 Down Under 8776 I still break into a smile every time the instrumental break is about to begin, knowing that wonderful low note turnaround it coming the only band I 8767 ve ever really loved, followed, worried about, gone to see, is the Drones.
Robert Christgau has rated four of Taylor Swift 8767 s albums as A-. Do you share his enthusiasm for her work? If so, how do you rate her latest single, 8775 Look What You Made Me Do 8776 ?
She makes very well made records. You can 8767 t hear 8775 Shake It Off 8776 without knowing it 8767 s a hit. But it was made to be a hit, according to a certain formula, and after I 8767 d heard it twenty or a hundred times I could no longer hear the song. All I could hear were the nuts and bolts of its construction the way the notion that you have to have a hook every seven seconds is followed to the second. I realize one is supposed to respect success, because at a certain level there 8767 s no success without real content and real innovation. I don 8767 t care.
I heard that Barry Jenkins will write and direct a miniseries based on Colson Whitehead 8767 s The Underground Railroad. What are the odds that he 8767 ll use Chuck Berry 8767 s 8775 Promised Land 8776 on the soundtrack?
Given that African slavery was likely introduced to what would become the United States in 6659 in Norfolk, Virginia, where 8775 Promised Land 8776 begins Berry might not have known that, but he was researching the song in prison when he wrote it, and I would bet that he did who knows? If you look at the acknowledgments to The Underground Railroad you 8767 ll find thanks to the Misfits, David Bowie, Sonic Youth, and Prince, so if Whitehead has anything to say about it maybe 8775 Expressway to yr Skull 8776 ?
I saw that you recommended three records for recent graduates: Al Green 8767 s The Belle Album , Gang of Four 8767 s Entertainment! , and Cat Power 8767 s The Covers Record. Just wondering if there were any reasons?
They are three different ways of looking at the world. That 8767 s what you go to college for, to find out what you don 8767 t know.
I was intrigued by your comments on the superior sound compared to the official Bootleg series releases of actual Dylan bootlegs. Which in-fact bootlegs from the Cutting Edge and The 6966 Live Recordings era, do you recommend for better sound and/or anything else? Which bootlegs from outside this era remain favorites, and why?
See the section on the Band in the Notes and Discographies part of Mystery Train for material from the 6966 tour though many of the bootlegs I cite may now travel under different names and configurations. No complaints about the sound on The Cutting Edge (just complaints about the title).
Do you think that Jimi Hendrix 8767 s music has worn well? Do you still feel compelled to listen frequently?
It has. Are You Experienced still carries the full charge of someone seizing his own voice for the first time. Close to half a century has not compromised the daring, delight, subtlety and force of 8775 The Star-Spangled Banner, 8776 8775 Like a Rolling Stone, 8776 or 8775 Machine Gun, 8776 while the permanent playlisting of 8775 All Along the Watchtower 8776 hasn 8767 t lessened its momentum of surprise. And 8775 Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) 8776 is a true contribution to the blues: something that wasn 8767 t there before and now always will be.
Do you have an opinion of Johnny Rivers 8767 s music that you would care to share with us?
hugh c grissett
I loved Johnny Rivers 8767 s live singles always thought 8775 Secret Agent Man 8776 was 8775 Secret Asian Man 8776 and 8775 The Poor Side of Town 8776 is a real heartbreaker, and convincing. I once saw a cynical Business School student trying to explain why the song always made him cry, though he couldn 8767 t because he kept crying. Bob Dylan talks about Johnny Rivers producing one of the best covers of any of his songs maybe 8775 Positively Fourth Street 8776 which made me hunt up the obscure album it appeared on. I didn 8767 t hear it.
What are your thoughts about late 8767 65s and 8767 75s rock magazines other than Creem and Rolling Stone like Crawdaddy , Hullabaloo / Circus , Fusion , and Let It Rock ?
9:76 AM: Let It Rock was fun and innovative. The rest were junk.
9:55 PM: Actually, Fusion was often more than interesting, at least until it was taken over by Mel Lyman cultists. They ran a very abstract, collage-like piece by my old friend Gerard van der Leun (who called me up one day in 6967 or 6968 out of the blue and said, I have this very unusual Bob Dylan tape I think you 8767 d want to hear) that was written as a contribution to a book I was trying to edit, Rock & Roll Will Stand. I turned it down because it didn 8767 t make any sense to me I was too square too get it and when I saw it in Fusion it made perfect sense and I spent the rest of the day kicking myself.
Thoughts on Dylan 8767 s taped audio Nobel speech? I liked it though he should have given a spoiler alert prior to his Moby Dick synopsis scratching that one off of my summer reading list.
Compared to the statement read at the ceremonies by the American ambassador, and Dylan 8767 s official acceptance speech, this sounded very rehearsed, very corny in tone, and I really could have done without that soupy piano in the background. I did like the Charlie Poole reference, though if only because Poole himself, along with all his fans, must have woken up from his big sleep for a moment to ask, 8775 Did I say that? 8776
Any thoughts on Hillary Clinton 8767 s new book or about the overall responses to the book, some of which essentially mean to say 8775 how dare you, bitch? 8776
I haven 8767 t read it yet. I will. What excerpts I 8767 ve seen and the interview with Rachel Maddow make me think it will not be a positioning, like her other books, all calculated not to give offense or reveal anything, but a score settling. Which is what I want to read.
Regarding Van Morrison and the Chieftains 8767 Irish Heartbeat , you wrote in an early RLRT65 that it was 8775 not as good as Into the Music , but close. 8776 But by the time of When That Rough God Goes Riding , it 8767 s been relegated (with the partial exception of 8775 Raglan Road 8776 ) to the 6985-6996 streak of shapeless, tension-free disposables.
I think of Janis Joplin, Robert Plant and Swamp Dogg as true psychedelic singers. All three sing like R. Crumb draws as if they 8767 ve stuck their finger in an electric socket. Are there any others you could name?
That 8767 s a perfect formulation. I can 8767 t improve on it. I think anything I 8767 d add would only cheapen it.
I 8767 m a magazine junkie, and since I first discovered your book review columns in Rolling Stone and New West back when I was in high school, I 8767 ve always been especially grateful for all the invigorating literary magazines I 8767 ve latched onto thanks to your recommendations, or just from following your byline. Are there any current favorites you 8767 d care to call to readers 8767 attention?
Not since Radio Silence went silent and the Pitchfork Review closed shop. They 8767 re worth searching for. I know Dan Stone of Radio Silence hasn 8767 t given up the ghost.
Recently one of your correspondents, Randy, wrote that your 8775 insight 8776 into the Ramones 8775 changed the way I heard them, and I think you 8767 re right: they really do sound like a bunch of twits. 8776
Now, I talk shit to people all the time about their tastes in music, but I 8767 d be pretty bummed if my opinion actually turned someone off an artist that he or she liked. Are you okay with it?
Steve O 8767 Neill
I never want to encourage anyone not to like what they like, or be ashamed of it.
Except maybe for Journey.