Posts Tagged ‘John Lennon’

Monday Medley

What we read while our surprise album went completely unnoticed…

Monday Medley

What we read while appreciating the human element…


  • Two games that are, indeed, all about corners — Monopoly and The Wiretogether at last.

Why I’m Sick Of Lady Gaga

It’s hard to believe that only two years ago very few people in America knew who Lady Gaga was, because now nobody can shut the fuck up about her. Her first single, “Just Dance,” was released in April 2008, but it took a long time—nine months—to reach #1. The real Lady Gaga phenomenon didn’t start in earnest until 2009, when she seemingly had a new single on the radio every week (and that’s only a slight exaggeration: In 2009, “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “LoveGame,” “Paparazzi,” and “Bad Romance” all spent time in the Billboard Top 10).

But sheer quantity of radio play doesn’t qualify anyone for “phenomenon” status these days—after all, who still listens to the radio? But Lady Gaga has become culturally significant in a way most pop stars only dream about. People care about her and have an opinion about her in a way they don’t about, say, Beyoncé. Even people who don’t really like pop music find themselves compelled by Lady Gaga. I, for one, feel like I’ve had more conversations about Lady Gaga in the past year than I’ve had about all other musical acts put together. I would even go so far to say that she’s “polarizing,” except that I don’t really feel like there is a sizable anti-Gaga pole. Nevertheless, her fans often have the passion and fervor of zealots needing to defend their messiah from some threatening albeit nonexistent opposition. Continue reading

Ranking Bob Dylan Songs, #47: 4th Time Around

“4th Time Around” is an easy song to forget about, coming towards the end of Side Three* of Blonde on Blonde, sandwiched between two more up-tempo, absurdist numbers, “Absolutely Sweet Marie” and “Obviously 5 Believers.” On an album as groundbreaking and epic as Blonde on Blonde, “4th Time Around” is something of a throwback: a breakup song set in simple waltz time.

*It’s a little odd that we still refer to “sides” of albums that originally came out on vinyl, even though hardly anyone still listens to it regularly in that format anymore.

This song is often compared to The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood,” with some going so far as to call it an “homage” or “parody” of John Lennon’s tune. Lennon himself even implied as much in interviews. Such comparisons are probably a stretch—I don’t think Dylan was ever concerned with responding to The Beatles the way The Beatles were concerned with responding to Dylan—but there are a lot of similarities in the songs: the waltz time, conversational lyrics, etc. For The Beatles, though, such a song was a notable step forward—for Dylan it was more of a return to form. Continue reading

Salman Rushdie and Creative Invention

Here are some things I like: rock music, stories about rock music, Greek mythology, modern re-tellings of ancient myths, alternate histories, esoterically allusive novels, trendy novelists. Given these preferences, Salman Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet seems like a book written not so much for me as at me: Rushdie’s novel is a re-imagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice set against the backdrop of the musical culture of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. I seem ideally suited to like this book.

And yet there is something very much off about it.

For one, Rusdie begins at the end: The novel opens with, “On St. Valentine’s Day, 1989, the last day of her life, the legendary popular singer Vina Apsara woke sobbing from a dream of human sacrifice in which she had been the intended victim.”

Beginning with the death of one of the two central characters (the “Eurydice” figure), Rushdie then goes backwards to tell us where she came from, how she met her soul mate, Ormus Cama (“Orpheus”), as well as our narrator Umeed “Rai” Merchant (also in love with Vina), and how she became a “legendary popular singer.”

Now, beginning at the end is not inherently bad— many great novels have done it successfully (Infinite Jest, American Pastoral, The Invisible Man). In this instance, though, it is indicative of the way Rushdie jumps around chronologically, never letting the story settle down and simply unfold. Continue reading