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Monday, August 23, 2004

Right, so, lit-rock, and/or rock-lit.

So there's clearly no principled reason there can't be useful cross-pollination. People who like (and write) books, people who like (and make) music: Same people, why the hell not? Despite my tetchiness about young poets and indie-rock, I find on introspection that most of the instances I can come up with concern poems and poets I'm well-disposed towards:

Jordan mentions Sleater-Kinney in Poem on a Train, and we know that he's spent more time looking at GBV's lyrics than most people who love or hate them -- though it's not evident to me how this might have made its way into his poems; a lovely poem in Ange Mlinko's Matinees (which is the reason I first found out about the book) concerns, or at least uses the name of, Secret Stars*; one of the more toked-up poems in The Little Door Slides Back (by a former drummer of Davis' The Pope-a-Lopes) bears as its title an anagram of "Gastr del Sol"; I believe Ghost and Damon & Naomi figure in the same book. Come to think of it, I've enjoyed Damon K.'s poetry enough to wish there were more of it about; at the same time, I've never been inclined to listen hard for the words on D&N records. George Albon once sent me a cassette including singer-songwriter demos from before he began to publish. Even J. Clover, not what we would term an erstwhile defender of indie-rock, has titled poems for Mecca Normal and (this one's uncollected) the MG's Nine Black Poppies. (Which, reader, is one of several earlier discs you would certainly find worth your time if you know only the 4AD discs; it's similar, except minus the wack piano.)

Surely not a bunch of rank hipsters. The only conclusion that I can draw from the above is that some sensitive, responsive writers, were listening to certain records at some point in their, ah, processes. I do feel, though I now find it more difficult to cite instances, that I've seen references and dedications and such that jar or irk me. (I'm really not trying not to name names here -- other than that 'discography' bit Jordan mentioned recently, which I linked to, the examples aren't coming to mind. I could swear there was something in the new Canary, but I can't find it.)

It might be relevant that everyone above is my age or older (Jordan, I think, is insignificantly younger), and may have come to this music, even if they happened to be in school at the time, when it was not quite so 'collegiate,' perhaps even a tiny bit harder to find one's way to. This isn't a value in itself, but it does make me feel like the interest is not overdetermined, or displayed as a nod or a wink at a niche market d.b.a as a subculture.

[There is a whole topic to open about the difference between who made and listened to '80s v. '90 U.S. indie. It would be to some extent a discussion about class.]

Surely, the difference between my response to this sort of thing and my response to how jazz shows up in an older generation's poetry must have something to do with my closeness to the source in the first case.

Why has the tone of my posts been so formal lately, by the way?

I wrote more on what's problematic-to-awful about the kind of lit-rock Carl's article mostly concerned, but I think I can say it more succinctly: What would the musical equivalent of the term 'poetaster' be? Cool points are being sought and tallied, in a way that has little to do with either strong results on the one hand, or passion, liveliness, and invention on the other. (As to the latter category: Pussy, King of the Pirates might not be the Mekons disc I'd grab in a fire, but 'lit-rock' it isn't.)

Shortening another, more personal, paragraph: For my part, I'm glad that I don't find myself in the position of wondering if someone has printed a poem because they know I'm 'in a band.' I don't know that I'd claim that my advanced capacity for shame is such a wonderful thing, but it's what I've got.

Oh! Patrick Durgin, of Kenning fame, was, as "Rick," the driving force behind a rather twee band called the Bomb Pops, whose 92-94 singles (on Audrey's Diary, Bus Stop, Spin Art) were collected on a Grimsey CD in 1999. Interesting record -- quite elliptical for indie-pop, and not only lyrically. I confess I haven't gotten a chance to look at enough of his own poetry to say anything about it.

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