Catching Up: Ties That Bind and More

My latest column at PopMatters is up: "Bruce Springsteen, 'The Ties That Bind,' the Working Class and Authenticity." Which pretty much explains what the column is about.Also, I didn't post my previous column here. That one was part 2 of this series on working class music and focused on John Lennon's "Working Class Hero." Read… Continue reading Catching Up: Ties That Bind and More

Blind Engineer Shows and a Springsteen Review

The Blind Engineer has two shows coming up. I'm playing Friday Dec. 11 at the Mingo Town Music Acoustic Holiday Party, a five-hour extravaganza featuring pretty much all the artists on MTM: Harvest Kings, Heartbreak Orchestra, Devil Doves, Al Smyth's FBnCC, Apple Bottom Gang, Jake Follrod, and Jon Schaer. Eric and Jesse will join me,… Continue reading Blind Engineer Shows and a Springsteen Review

Ordinary Life: Greil Marcus’ New Books and Extended Thoughts

I was fortunate enough to review Greil Marcus' two new books, Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations and Real Life Rock, for the Los Angeles Review of Books. The review is now up. Please consider checking out the many fantastic writers and thinkers at LARB, which has quickly become one of my favorite sites.

I don't have much in the way of extended thoughts, but here's a bit more....

Updates: Ties That Bind, Blind Engineer and More

My new column is up at PopMatters here. "A Town Called Malice" takes a look at the state of working-class music from the US to the UK. As you might guess, it grew out of thinking about The Jam, one of my favs, after watching the recent documentary About the Young Idea. I hope this… Continue reading Updates: Ties That Bind, Blind Engineer and More

Ties That Bind: Rockists v. Poptimists

My new "Ties That Bind" column is up at PopMatters today, so as the Tom Tom Club said, check it out y'all. The subject this month is the fabled "rockist v. poptimist" debate, which I generally think impoverishes the way we talk about music despite the major benefit of more inclusivity brought about by the… Continue reading Ties That Bind: Rockists v. Poptimists

Extended Thoughts on Scenes of Love and Theft

I said I'd post some extended thoughts on Elijah Wald's Dylan Goes Electric! and Stephen Witt's How Music Got Free and by God I'm going to do it. But, if you haven't read my review of those books in the Los Angeles Review of Books, do that first, otherwise none of what follows will be in context. And hey, show LARB some love. I enjoyed working with my editor Michael Goetzman on what became a long review essay of something like 3700 words. Usually, as I work, I keep a "notes and outtakes" document running; that document for this essay was nearly 12000 words. There's a lot to discuss, but some of it I'll hold off on because it may show up in the chapter on Dylan I'm writing for Nothing Has Been Done Before.

When I decided to review the two books together using the theme of transgression with Great White Wonder as the link between them, I underestimated just how much I was tackling. So I had to make some hard decisions about what made the cut and what didn't. With both books, some of the more typical "book review" elements got cut. That's not uncommon with review essays, which function in a different way, but I've included a lot of those below.

Forthcoming: PopMatters Column and TCJ Article

Two bits of news, kids. My "Ties That Bind" column at PopMatters will return in March. I took a hiatus last summer in order to focus on some book-length projects: finishing my novel The Day and getting it out to agents, getting further ahead on my book about The 'Nam and my book of music… Continue reading Forthcoming: PopMatters Column and TCJ Article

Go Read Ellen Willis

I'm reacquainting myself with Ellen Willis, the preeminent, vital rock critic and feminist who died in 2006. I've read a smattering of her work here and there, but for the first time I'm reading Out of the Vinyl Deeps, which collected her writings before last year's The Essential Ellen Willis. She's too often overlooked (and… Continue reading Go Read Ellen Willis

Super Bowl Halftime Isn’t For Old People?

Or so says USA Today in responding with its typical seventh-grade reading level to tonight's Katy Perry performance at the halftime show of the Super Bowl:"Perry is the world’s most followed Twitter user (64.3 million and counting) and a popular, energetic female pop star who sings songs with catchy hooks. She’s someone in the prime of… Continue reading Super Bowl Halftime Isn’t For Old People?