Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Can I just be a 'rollist'?

Surprising correspondent Ben Friedlander reminds me that 'modernisms' might have been more apposite than 'feminisms' in last graph of last post. Also, of this colloquy of 'rockist' instancings, which I'd seen but couldn't find yesterday. It looks as thought it's been added to a few times since first posted; you'll need to scroll down the page to get it. The Simon Reynolds blogpost from which the penultimate entry is drawn beat me to a good deal of yesterday's point. (And read on in the same post for a capsule of Reynold's fine essay on C86-ish stuff, which I believe was called "Against Health and Efficiency")

I cede entirely to Matos on the origins of the term; the UK music-paper origins are ringing a bell now. The point of interest here is that, on that usage, the extension of the marked term to which 'rock' was the unmarked (until recognized as such) other was rather different that it is currently. Otherwise, MM reads me charitably -- I should and will read the relevant SO'TT passage with more care. Said charity is rare enough in the b-sphere that a word of appreciation is in order. However: 'Refutes' wasn't in it. I agree with nearly every plank of nearly every anti-rockist position, except for the one that implies that it's stupid to get in a room with others and make sounds at the same time (eye contact helps too, I find) just because other methodologies are available and valid; I just want to know which position is at issue in a given case before I start making like a Tommy LaSorda bobblehead.

This reminds me: If anyone knows of an archive of UK music papers from '78-'79, online or at any physical location in North America, please write.

Oh, and what I wasn't so sure about at the end there was the film version of High Fidelity; just didn't notice I hadn't finished the sentence.


Speaking of overdetermination, it would have been weird of me not to see Yo La Tengo/Antietam two blocks away last night, even though I was bushed. Missed Antietam (8:00? Very L.A..) except for a little bit of bleed while I was getting frisked. Better YLT set than their show in the same venue last year; Summer Sun material performed with more confidence and variation than right after release. Still highlights: "Stockholm Syndrome," "Autumn Sweater." New highlight: More elaborate doo-wop hand-jive routine (Georgia & James, with Ira singing to backing track; failry pop) than previous. "Nuclear War" more percussion than organ this time, but jeez is it long. Tara Key from Antietam joined on one of the long instrumentals (one plus of the show, they only played a couple of these rather than the full-on "Big Day Coming"/"Sudden Organ" half-hour they sometimes end with in cities where they don't come often enough to skip the biggies), and her own band's "The Orange Song," recorded by YLT way back on President. Other covers: Kinks song I don't know, Seeds' "Can't Seem To Make You Mine," a Black Flag song I'd better not name in case I'm wrong, "Cast A Shadow."

At one point, Ira dropped into the audience w/ mic for some Q&A, asking several people name, 'major' (even if this was obviously inappropriate), and whether they had a question for the band -- sort of a Dick Clark meets "What D'Ya Know" thing. Most of this is lame, but the last person he talks to is The Only Black Man at the The Indie-Rock Show.

Ira: What's your name, sir?
Respondent (very deep voice): Malice.
Ira: And what's your major?
Malice: Chillin'.
Ira: And do you have any questions for the band?
Malice: Let's get crackin' so we can have a good time and go home.

(n.b.: Not a question.)

Curiously, about 2/3 of Lambchop showed up right after the show, having just flown in for their own tonight and Thursday.


Make of this, from Gerald Bordman's 1980 bio of Jerome Kern, what you will:

"Phil Silvers's appearance in Cover Girl must have been especially pleasing to Kern, for many a night Kern took his family and friends to Charley Foy's popular night club to watch Silvers perform a skit in which Kern was a central figure. The skit had Kern teaching Paul Robeson "Ol' Man River." Much of the fun derived from contrasting the grammar and rhetoric of the unlettered black who is supposed to sing the song in the show with the college-educated Robeson's meticulous English. Robeson, for example, demands to know what "taters" are and when he is told then attempts to sing the line in his impeccable Rutgers grammar. But even Robeson must admit that "He doesn't plant potatoes and doesn't plant cotton" fails to work. The composer can only apologize, "Well, I didn't write the lyric." Kern saw the skit so often he came to know it by heart, so one night when he met Silvers at a party he had no trouble playing himself to Silvers's Robeson."

(I hesitate to interpret this, but note if you've forgotten that Phil Silvers = Sgt. Bilko; and that Robeson kept singing the song, with lyric changes that made it more explicitly about class, well into his years of radicalism and exile. His performance of the original version in James Whale's 1936 Show Boat is remarkable, as is the bizarre (for the film, not Whale) expressionist staging. Better all around than the MGM version, though it leaves out "Life On The Wicked Stage.")


Radio later tonight.

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