Friday, August 20, 2004

not fully formatted, b/c I don't feel like it.

50 rock lyricists, w/ significant output in the period 1989-2004 who, in my estimation, more or less generally fail to 'suck...massive ass':

Holly Anderson (non-performing member of consonant; Clint writes less, but often movingly)
that Arab Strap guy
Beck (obviously, more overtly influenced by hip-hop than most of this list)
Dan Bejar (despite my sometime doubts, which are in the context of how good he can be)
David Berman (esp. The Natural Bridge)
Peter Blegvad
Richard Buckner (esp. Still and Devotion & Doubt)
Dennis & Allan Callaci (Refrigerator; a coterie band, but that does not falsify the claim)
Vic Chesnutt
Chuck Cleaver (Ass Ponys)

John Darnielle
Graeme Downes
whichever members of The Ex write the lyrics
Howe Gelb
Craig Finn (of Lifter Puller/Hold Steady; see Beck)
Robert Forster (see undersung '90s solo records)
Luke Haines
Kathleen Hanna
Polly Jean Harvey
Kristin Hersh

Simon Joyner (perhaps conceives himself as a folkie)
The Haywards (basically unknown Cincinatti band, I forget the main guy's name, but he can write)
Ron House (both in TJSA and the solo disc Obsessed)
Matt Kadane (esp. in the New Year; n.b. I am no kind of Bedhead fan)
Gerald Langley
Chris Lopez (Rock*A*Teens; no one noticed)
Alex McManus (aka The Bruces)
Mac McCaughan (underrated)
whosis from Rainer Maria (maybe they write together; affected by emo, but trending up)
Marcy Mays (Scrawl)

several Mekons (often working collaboratively; also Jon's solo work)
Stuart Murdoch
the fellows in Silkworm, and ex-member Joel Phelps solo
Mark Szabo (again, very marginal figure w/ no 'career,' but a personal favorite)
John Petkovic
Liz Phair
Prince (is there some reason I can't have him as 'rock'?)
Jean Smith (keeps getting better)
Mark E. Smith (enough interesting work in the '90s to include; no, I don't go around singing it to myself)
those in Sleater-Kinney

David Thomas (still v. productive; esp. Two Pale Boys recs)
Mary Timony (not my thing so much post-Helium, but I respect it)
Jenny Toomey
Carol Van Dijk (sp?)
Tom Waits
Kurt Wagner (Lambchop)
Rufus Wainwright (despite big fall-off on #3)
Azita Youssefi
Yo La Tengo (again, underrated; album before last esp. strong)
Thalia Zedek

Oh yes. Me. I don't suck, actually, thanks for asking.

To forestall: No idea if 50 is 'enough' to show anything. Good-as-pre-90's-figure-Z is not the standard applied, esp. where Z = Dylan or Howard Devoto. (I didn't use X b/c you might think I meant, y'know, X.) List has nothing to do w/ best; has nothing to do w/ attempting to represent various genres; has do to with a list of persons or groups of persons who accompany the music they record or perform with non-sucking words. These words may be related to this music in a number of ways; some of these may operate to the benefit of the words, some to their detriment. No requirement that I love the music, though in no case are the lyrics so much better than what's around them that I hesitated. Had to be rock on an inclusive but not all-inclusive def; hence, no Pet Shop Boys, no Arto L. Starting pre-'90s is ok. No claim that the lyrics would look good on the page; no claim that, if they do, they're not actually good lyrics; no claims at all about 'pop.' Some of this is 'songwriting'; much is not. Personal friends are there b/c I respect them, and think of them often. You, of course, respect me enough to know that the presence of usual suspects does not mean that I am an uncritical sheep; Stuart Murdoch, for example, is a good writer who is tarnished the fact that people who like his band also tend to like a lot of utter shit. Other usual suspects are either not so much by my lights or arguable enough that I wouldn't want to make the broader case on them. I don't feel like naming the former; the latter might include Eitzel, Malkmus, Morrissey, Callahan, Oberst, '90s Elvis C. However, particular judgements are largely beside the point; one might argue me out of 4 or 5, but I'm sure anyone could plug the holes with their own preferences.

The most interesting refutation would probably involve showing that I had misunderstood the word 'rock.' Also 'lyrics.' Also 'suck,' though perhaps not 'ass.'

p.s.: Carl's article wouldn't load; I'll try tomorrow. I am very suspicious of lit-rock, at least as currently constituted. Rick Moody should not hold his breath from a call from anyone named above.

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