Posts on: music
This was great. I picked it up because of Mark’s review.
I read Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, and it’s probably my favorite book of the year so far. Like Wilson, I never cared that much for Céline Dion’s music, and hadn’t tried to care, but I came away with a new appreciation for where she came from and some of her shrewd business moves. But it’s not just about the music and industry angle, the good stuff is how he uses Dion as the pivot to talk about taste, and all the baggage that informs our opinions.
Much of this book is about reasonable people carting around cultural assumptions that make them assholes to millions of strangers.
There are tons of great quotes from the book, many of which Mark already pulled out. I particularly liked this one—
Punk, metal, even social-justice rock like U2 or Rage Against the Machine, with their emphatic slogans or individuality and independence, are as much “inspirational” as Céline’s music is, but for different subcultural groups. They are just as one-sided and unsubtle.
—which reminded me of the Neil Young vs. Billy Joel section of Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music.
It’s a really fun read. I kept misplacing it around the house and asking my wife, “Have you seen my Celine Dion book?” Which was pretty hilarious. Recommended.
BTW: there’s a new edition of the book that includes essays from other writers on the topic of taste.
Filed under: my reading year 2014
I read this book years ago, while at Sasquatch! of all places. Every time I try to suggest it for my music-loving friends, they look at me funny. But they should read it, and so should you. It’s super great for all the reasons above, and more.
Jul 21, 2014
@ 5:40 pm
I know this is last week’s news, but this song and video are brilliant. I have not said that about a Weird Al project in more than 20 years, so you know I’m serious.
Jul 21, 2014
@ 4:20 pm
There’s this thing that happens when you listen to too much of the solo stuff separately — too much Lennon: suddenly there’s a little too much self-involvement in the room; too much Paul and it can become sentimental — let’s face it, borderline goofy; too much George: I mean, we all have our spiritual side but it’s only interesting for about six minutes, ya know? Ringo: He’s funny, irreverent, and cool, but he can’t sing — he had a bunch of hits in the ’70s (even more than Lennon) but you aren’t gonna go home and crank up a Ringo Starr album start to finish, you’re just not gonna do that. When you mix up their work, though, when you put them side by side and let them flow — they elevate each other, and you start to hear it: T H E B E A T L E S.
Ethan Hawke’s whole letter is pretty wonderful, but I really keyed in on this part. There’s an Rdio playlist of the mix, but it’s only got 24 of the compilation’s 50 cuts (basically none of the Lennon stuff is here). So I’m pretty much going to go home and make my own… I’m fairly certain I already have most of these songs.