By necessity incomplete, this list of old, new, and new-ish favorites treat adolescence as a hinterland whose borders recklessly separate childhood and adulthood when, really, to some degree we should’ve held on to medieval notions about children as young or little adults. Maybe I knew I was queer by adoring Judy Blume and especially LouiseContinue reading “My favorite novels about adolescence”
Monthly Archives: November 2021
The eternal now: Alison Krauss-Robert Plant and Courtney Barnett
Alison Krauss and Robert Plant – Raise the Roof On occasion it settles for gentrified prettiness, like a row of new condos with flower gardens facing a metro station.
Just look who’s back in business: Songs about God
From “God is a concept by which we measure our pain” and “You’re the one I want but it’s him that I need” to “My God, just look who’s back in business,” these songs address God as idea, deity worth a knee or two, or the excuse for a passionate synth pop song about theContinue reading “Just look who’s back in business: Songs about God”
Frisking about in a Bar-ba-loot suit: politics and ‘The Lorax’
“No book has a right to be on a reading list,” Jill Lepore writes in a New Yorker column:
I won’t give up on my life: Songs about the night
I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain—and back in rain. I have outwalked the furthest city light. I have looked down the saddest city lane. I have passed by the watchman on his beat And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. When the sun goes down, rock ‘n’Continue reading “I won’t give up on my life: Songs about the night”
The slightness of ‘Belfast’ erodes its good will.
To watch a black and white film in 2021 is to feel my stomach muscles clench in anticipation of the sentimentality of the narrative and the stilted body language of capable actors.
So many country songs by women stress the gunpowder and lead — deservedly because men are chumps — that when a “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” evinces such empathy it’s like hanging out afternoon with two good chums. Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde have recorded two excellent albums in the last eighteen months; thatContinue reading “Singles 11/27”
Songs about morning
A believer in the vicarious, substitutive powers of pop, I let these songs indulge in the all-nighter’s mixed affection for the morning sun. I’ve stayed up past dawn a few times, rarely of my own volition. During the COVID era I see no point in stretching my bedtime past 10:30 if I stay in, notContinue reading “Songs about morning”
Don’t you love farce? Stephen Sondheim — R.I.P.
I didn’t grow up with musicals unless the animated Disney or Don Bluth things (An American Tail) count. Escaping my milieu made no sense: I had to discover myself.
I’m sorry, Mama: Songs about family dysfunction
Chewed without digested, family trauma and pop songwriting have been uneasy bedmates. The lack of resolution — the dreaded word “closure” — in our relationships and the rigors of pop create a useful tension.
‘The Beatles: Get Back’ gently dissolves myths, strengthens new ones
In keeping with their status as a Western institution as vital as the International Monetary Fund, The Beatles that emerge in The Beatles: Get Back function as alternately soothing and obtrusive background noise, best played when packing corn casserole to take to a cousin’s for Thanksgiving.
Ranking #39 singles, U.S. edition: 1965-1967
Ranking #39 singles, U.S. edition: 1965-1967 “It is impossible to measure how much [Dionne] Warrick adds to the tone of the songs, since so many of them were written for the benefit of her interpretation,” writes Geoffrey O’Brien, whose Sonata for Jukebox: Pop Music, Memory, and the Imagined Life friends have recommended so often IContinue reading “Ranking #39 singles, U.S. edition: 1965-1967”