Tag Archives: music

Links: KISS, fiction writing

1. An amusing piece by Chuck Klosterman about KISS includes this passage:

When the critical world looks at Kiss, they see adults pretending to be characters they are not, projecting unsophisticated music about fantasy emotions, presented as a means of earning revenue. What they do not see is that this is how almost all rock music would appear to an alien. It is inside the genre’s very DNA, all the way back to Elvis. So Kiss are not a cheaper, exploitive translation of rock; Kiss are the living definition of rock’s electrifying unreality, presented with absolute transparency.

2. This article describes the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference, but it describes things — the difficulty of getting published, the lack of money once one does get published, and the few teaching opportunities in creative writing — that make me wonder why so many people want to become fiction writers, at least, as fiction writing seems to be institutionally practiced now. I understand that some people feel called to write fiction, and I don’t mean to criticize that impulse, that desire; what I find odd is why so many people seem willing to suffer the indignities of a market and a public that doesn’t want them. I’m a writer, too, but the idea that one would need to get paid for such an interest seems a harsh principle to live by.

3. An Atlantic article with the title: “Why Music Sounds Better When You Know the Artist Is Eccentric: Our brains associate eccentricity and creativity in musicians, painters, writers, and other artists—as long as weirdness doesn’t feel like a gimmick.”

4. Fiction and the passage of time.

Link: Knowing what’s good about your art

An article at AVClub talks about bands that were once good and then not so good, but Buzz Osborne makes a point that I think applies to artists generally:

You don’t have to keep doing [art about teen angst]. You just have to realize that what you were doing was good. I got the feeling that they didn’t think that it was any good. There’s no more of that anymore. Even with Metallica, their albums still sound like there’s some sort of edge to them; it’s not just bad R.E.M. again, you know what I mean? To me, R.E.M. sounds like a metal band compared to where The Replacements ended up. They gutted everything that was good about them.

Take Tom Waits. His newest album is one of his best albums ever. He hasn’t forgotten what was good about him; he’s just improved upon it. You can tell he’s Tom Waits, because it sounds like Tom Waits and everything he ever did. But it’s an improvement, it’s a step forward, and he managed to do that.

That’s up to them to do that. If you want to gut your sound in order to sell millions of records, good luck with that. Hopefully it’ll work out for you and if it doesn’t work out, then that’s the saddest story of all. There’s nothing sadder than a band selling out and having it not work.


Song links: Lovely melancholy

Some songs I love, especially on these recent gray fall days:

Laura Nyro: “Let it be me”

Kenny Rankin’s “Blackbird”

Another Kenny Rankin I really like: “Christmas Eve with you”