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Month: June 2015

Yin and Yang: Attack and counterattack.

Yin and Yang: Attack and counterattack.

It’s a part of the human condition to get things wrong, especially in the moment. We sometimes get things right after the fact, when it’s too late. As simple as that. It’s too late. It’s also a part of the human condition to want to wrap things up, organize, reduce, simplify. Artists are needed to do this in a way that resonates, inspires and provokes.

Sometimes, there is meta beyond that. Sometimes it takes a further step of removal to organize what the artists have done on their own.

So I was thinking: Attack, response, regret. In song. Aggression, a kind of passionate passive-aggression, then a nostalgic humbling. In song. The Faces and Janis Joplin, followed by Rod Stewart . . . who was lead singer for the Faces, and then he wasn’t.

 

So, she responds to him, to his cocky, over-confident swagger, as she sees it, and let’s him know it. Both songs have among the best intro … Click to continue . . .

The Motels: Only the Lonely

The Motels: Only the Lonely

The Motels were a part of the 1980s New Wave invasion, even though they were mostly from LA. It seemed foreign, that invasion, homegrown or not. The catalyst for most of the musical change seemed to come from Britain, at least in my memory, and with it a sophisticated, romantic, almost dapper shift in Rock. Instead of the long hair and torn jeans of the 1970s, beloved by the too-late generation coming of age in those years, we had young men with short hair, citified clothes, often a suit and tie, and young women with an equally cosmopolitan, generally urban appearance.

Of course, there was no right way to look, and the New Wave invasion was plenty diverse, without orthodoxies, so there were offshoots, outliers, misfits and so on. And Punk Rock was a major influence in general, redirected, masked at times, but still the biggest undercurrent overall. In general, however, the 1980s brought us a different kind of rebellion … Click to continue . . .

Apollinaire: The Poet and the Bridge

Apollinaire: The Poet and the Bridge

Muse Inspiring the Poet, by Henri Rousseau. 1908.

Born in Rome, in 1880, Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki became one of the most important figures in the history of modernism, likely coining the terms Surrealism and Orphism along the way. Apollinaire, the name he adopted when he moved to France, was a tireless champion of the avant-garde, especially when it came to the cubist movement, painters, poets, composers and writers in general. His own production of poetry, novels and plays was prodigious, though there is still debate as to where he ranks in the pantheon of French modernism.

 

There can’t be any doubt, however, that he was a central figure and helped propel the modernist stream forward, as he set the table for Dada, Surrealism and a few other isms before his short life was over.

I first encountered Apollinaire’s work via The Random House Book of Twentieth Century French Poetry. An exceptional, bilingual anthology, its editor, Paul … Click to continue . . .

Jorge Luis Borges: The Norton Lectures, 1967-68

Jorge Luis Borges: The Norton Lectures, 1967-68

Borges in 1951, by Grete Stern
Borges in 1951, by Grete Stern

 I recently stumbled upon these recordings, and wanted to share them with our readers.

Borges was a master, and easily one of the most voracious readers of the 20th century, despite the obvious impediment of his eyes. As mentioned in the intro, at the time of these lectures, he was almost completely blind, and relied on memory and the help of various persons in his life, especially his mother, until her death at age 99.

From the amazing UbuWeb sound page for Jorge Luis Borges:

“The central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry.”
— Jorge Luis Borges, This Craft of Verse

These are the six Norton Lectures that Jorge Luis Borges delivered at Harvard University in the fall of 1967 and spring of 1968. The recordings, only lately discovered in the Harvard University Archives, uniquely capture the cadences, candor, wit,

Click to continue . . .