Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kerouac the Pilgrim

I wrote my undergrad dissertation (oh so many years ago)on Jack Kerouac, but haven't revisited his works in all those years. While writing an article, I just skimmed through some of the underlined portions of select Keruoac novels. I have always found this section from The Dharma Bums amazing. It lacks Kerouac's typical rollicking, flavorful style but the content/context are amazing. These comments from the novel's protagonist resonate with Kerouac's own movement from Buddhism back to Catholicism:
"But the night would come and with it the mountain moon and the lake would be moonlaned and I'd go out and sit in the grass and meditate facing west, wishing there were a personal God in all this impersonal matter."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Death of the Author: Goodbye to David Foster Wallace

How sad I was to hear that 46 year old brilliant novelist/ essayist/ creative writing professor David Foster Wallace was found dead this Friday night. I actually really don't know what to say about this, about the tragedy. That's all I can say. It is tragic on many, many levels--spiritual, intellectual; public, private.
So I will just say a few words about my limited, underdeveloped, yet very appreciative relationship with Wallace's mind and writing. I cannot claim to be one of the many brave souls who made it through Wallace's gargantuan, spiraling novel Infinite Jest, but I will do it one day.

I can say that I have a great appreciation for Wallace's talent as a poignant, humorous, ever-relevant essayist. I especially appreciate his extended critique of the dangers of the continual, contemporary usage of irony that is found in the essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and US Fiction" from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.
Here is a brief excerpt:
"Irony, entertaining as it is, serves an almost exclusively negative function. It’s critical and destructive, a ground-clearing…But irony’s singularly unuseful when it comes to constructing anything to replace the hypocrisies it debunks".

This very Coupland-esque critique of our overdependence on irony to not only critique, but construct a way of relating, perhaps even build something of a phantasmic "worldview" shanty, is why I chose Wallace as a voice within my dissertation. He was really onto something with these critiques--headed towards something real, vibrant, amazing. Something true. The New York Times Obituary calls Wallace a "Postmodern" author, and of course, this word has perhaps no meaning. But it seems clear to me that Wallace was dissatisfied with the constructed ironies of some of his fellow authors--it seems that he was looking for something beyond that. He did not label this possibility of a non-ironic reality, but his distrust of irony itself was decidedly (dare I say) moral. Is it more postmodern to be ironic, or is it more postmodern to question irony? As Wallace points out, irony has become an hegemonic institution itself--he sees its operation on a public level. Coupland sees its operation on a private level as a "protective teflon coating" preventing us from actually getting to know one another. But I am curious to know what Wallace thought this irony was preventing us from doing? His thoughts about the dangers of irony are so similar to Coupland's, yet unlike Couplad, he does not explain the underlying reasons for his distress (Coupland's are a desire for community and, at times, faith in God). I know I am rambling, but as I reflect upon Wallace's writings. I can't help but want to wander around his mind (and maybe even his heart) and understand a bit more of the process that brought him to these beautiful moments of perhaps incomplete clarity. But, of course, I can't. And out of respect for him, I probably should not even entertain the thought for now. Perhaps I should just be quiet and leave you with some of his own words, an interview that will perhaps encourage you to go read more about and by him.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Excellent New Music: Presenting BOMBADIL!

Guess what? I have found yet ANOTHER North Carolina band that I love,love,love. The endearingly nerdily named Bombadil (the good kind of nerds--Tolkien nerds)are from Durham/Chapel Hill and met during a Duke semester abroad in Bolivia (I think!). Their music is hard to describe--which in my books, is a very good thing. Eclectic, fun, full of energy and creativity. I can hear some influences: Bolivian traditional music, the Beatles (and the rest of the Britpop 60's for that matter), Irish music, postpunk antifolks avantegarde yada yada yada. You really just have to listen, and you have to realize that each song is quite different from the other. I have seen these guys live twice now, and what a treat it has been! It is rare to go see a band whose music you do not know and not get bored. The first time I saw these guys (having not owned any of their music) I was super sad when they left the stage. They have amazing stage energy, love playing music, and don't take themselves too seriously (you can get a sense of this from watching the video posted below). Although they are amazingly talented (which is obvious as you watch them scurry from instrument to instrument on stage) yet really, really nice, humble guys. These are the kind of musicians that I not only enjoy listening to, but want to support by buying their stuff, going to their shows, and encouraging others to do so.
Enough of my rambling--check out two of their tunes and let me know what you think:
"Julian of Norwich" Mp3"Smile When You Kiss" Mp3
My absolute favorite tune is "Jellybean Wine" but I can't find a (legal) mp3 online, so please check it out on their Myspace Page.

If you like what you hear, then be sure to go to Ramseur Records (Avett Brothers, etc.) and buy their album!! **After investigating, it seems easier to go to their site directly and buy their awesome album, "A Buzz, A Buzz".
I actually JUST found out that Bombadil were Paste Magazine's ARTIST OF THE WEEK a while back. Yay!
And if that is not enough to convince you (good grief--what's wrong with you!), then here is a photo of a band member brushing his teeth with a cat:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Goodbye to a Memphis Legend: No More Hot Buttered Soul

Today is a sad day in my hometown, Memphis, and for many folks all over the world. My mom called me this afternoon just to tell me that the legendary Isaac Hayes passed away today--he was just 65 years old. I just wanted to post a few things in his memory; his music and persona capture so many of the things I love about Memphis soul.

I actually had the privlilege of meeting Mr. Hayes once at the Memphis airport. My mom spotted him and began to make conversation with him (she is NOT shy). He was very friendly, open, and, surprisingly, humble. His rich, deep voice was one of a kind--it was lovely to speak with him. He apparently used to have a girlfriend in Newcastle, which is where I was flying. And we also learned about the lady in Queens who made some of his funky clothing (my mom was full of questions and he was happy to give answers). I had my photo taken with him but don't know where it is--I will post it if found.
Next time I am in Memphis, I need to make my way over to Stax Records to check out all things Isaac related. Sadly, I missed seeing his Superfly Cadillac. Here is a photo of it--along with a blurb from Stax about it:

"This 1972 Peacock Blue, gold trimmed, two door, Eldorado Cadillac was The symbol of the style and cutting edge fashion that answered the question "What's Soul" in a way that only Stax and Isaac Hayes' could. The Stax Record Company gave Isaac Hayes this car as a gift for his unparalleled success in 1971 and 1972."
Here are two videos that I hope you will watch--check out Mr. Hayes' awesome outfit in the first one. Interesting that Jesse Jackson is on stage with him for so long.
The second video is a hilarious tribute to one of the kings of Soul. I love it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Far From the Faulty Faith of this Modern Age

I just rediscovered these amazing lyrics the other day. Although musically it is one of my lesser favorite Prayers and Tears songs, the lyrics consistently amaze and comfort me.

"Raise Up, You Celestial Choirs"
Raise up, you celestial choirs.
You're always running out of words to say.
Raise up, you disconsolate.
You're always giving up your faulty faith.

You will be lifted up into the glorious heights,
into the gracious night,
so don't waste your life.
You will be lifted up,
far from the faulty faith
of this modern age.

Raise up your invective, tome.
Call all the sinners, "Come."
They've all gone home.
Raise up, you with withered hearts.
Frail failure friend indeed unto the end.

You will be lifted up into the glorious heights,
into a gracious night,
so don't waste your life.
You will be lifted up,
far from the faulty faith of this modern age.
--The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cormac McCarthy

I just finished reading No Country for Old Men, and I loved it. I was wanting to read The Road for my first McCarthy, but it was checked out from the library. To be honest, for the first 100 pages, I wasn't sure sure. The fact that I had seen the film several months before seemed to be a real distractor--the book follows the film very, very closely. But once I was immersed into the book's world, I was still hooked--especially by Bell's monologues, which are slightly downplayed in the film (although still very important). I have a confession to make. I am now so intrigued by McCarthy's mind and world, that I actually joined Oprah's Book Club so I could see her interview with him (it's free to join!). This is the only television interview he has ever done. In the process, I found a great blog called When Cormac Met Oprah..., and it turns out that someone I vaguely knew from my distant Memphis scenester past is the author of it!
Here they are--Cormac and Oprah: what an unlikely pair.

If you are a McCarthy fan, I would love to hear your thoughts on which book I should read next and why--what's your favorite? And--confession time--are you now in the Oprah Book Club as well?! I leave you all with a great section from Bell's opening monologue in Chapter V-he's talking about the oral tradition of family history: The stories get passed on and the truth gets passed over. As the sayin goes. Which I reckon some would take as meanin that the truth cant compete. But I dont believe that. I think that when the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet. It don't move from place to place and it dont change from time to time. You cant corrupt it any more than you can salt salt. You cant corrupt it because that's what it is.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Religious Imagination: Page France, Sufjan Stevens, Half Handed Cloud, Danielson Family, and oh so Many others...

Danielson Famile
In a follow up of sorts to my last blog post, I wanted to post this abstract of a paper I will be giving at an upcoming Popular Culture conference. More to come as I work on the presentation--should be fun!
"(Im)personal Jesus: Rebirth of the Religious Imagination in US Indie Rock"
In a recent article from Pitchfork Media, columnist Chris Dahlen claims that “ there is almost no strain of music as secular as indie rock” and asks why “hipsters hate Jesus”. In the context of an irony saturated indie rock subculture, in which the proclamation of “truth” is not considered sacred, but profane, a selection of musicians are creating songs that are deeply subversive and uncharacteristically countercultural in their relentless search for meaning. This growing community of indie rock artists has given birth to a postsecular musical Renaissance, creating music pregnant with questions about mystery, transcendence, religious wonder, and personal doubt. Musicians such as Sufjan Stevens, Page France, Half Handed Cloud, the Danielson Famile, and many others continually challenge the “truth” claims of what they see as a media-induced virtual paradigm that has become the surrogate for a “traditional” religious one. All of these musicians are well versed in the glossy texts of their culture; they ironically bring the products, ads, films, and shopping spaces that we call home into the foreground of their work. They use these postmodern texts as tools to not only critique the seductive metanarrative that has nurtured their own popularity, but also to create space for spiritual exploration. This combination of biblical and contemporary consumer metaphors opens up a new, relevant discussion of an “ancient future” faith. The rise, and surprising acceptance, of these faith-focused indie performers has also instigated the emergence of anonymous online communities that discuss what were previously considered to be “outmoded” ideas of faith. Along with the song lyrics themselves, I plan to read these virtual patterns of faith discussion within the emerging texts of chat communities, online reviews, and Mp3 Blogs. This shockingly earnest and imaginative music has instigated a new conversation, a reflexive dialogue, that continually re-interprets questions of both faith and doubt for its audience.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Paul Tillich, Sufjan Stevens, and Douglas Coupland: On Words That Need "Healing"

I was just reading the introduction to theologian Paul Tillich's Dynamics of Faith. In discussing the term "faith" he says this: "It belongs to those terms which need healing before they can be used for the healing of men. Today the term "faith" is more productive of disease than health...Indeed, one is tempted to suggest that the word "faith" should be dropped completely...".I really like this brief point about the seeming "corruption" and decontextualization of religious terminology. So many of our theological terms have become much more associated with commodity, scientific rationalism, and strangely systematic "religion" rather than mystery, wonder and devotion. Tillich ultimately argues that we can't drop a word such as "faith" as there is no other adequate term to replace it--and we need a label for this mystical "thing" that we discuss. We must re-invest it with the meaning it has lost in such a confused cultural context. But how do we do this? I don't want to try and answer this now, but raise the question. One thing that I think is very much needed is a new amount of respect and excitement for the religious imagination. We need to rely more on metaphors and imagination--concrete, creative descriptions of mysterious spiritual realities, rather an attempt to concretize through abstractions, reducing these words to correlating "scientific" principles concerning God and belief.
All of this discussion reminds me of my blog's first ever post, which looks at how Sufjan Stevens provides an awe-ful, rich description of the phrase "born again". Take a look here. I also appreciate how an author such as Douglas Coupland attempts to re-invest the often completely secularized (in the mind of contemporary society) term "apocalypse" with its prophetic, colorful, frightening and beautiful roots. Of course, this discussion (of Coupland) calls for an entire new blog post (or a 325 page dissertation!).

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Review of Fear of Flying

I have obviously been on a DKD streak these last few months; please check out my new review on Identity Theory of his lovely new album.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Looking Through David Karsten Daniels' Rear Window

This weekend I will be in North Carolina, first for a Christianity and Literature conference, then for a visit and interview with the guys from the Buhanan Collective in Chapel Hill.
David Karsten Daniels, one of the founding members of the collective and now a solo artist on Fat Cat records, has a fantastic new album called Fear of Flying coming out in late April. I have listened to the album over and over and love its slow, engrossing warmth--it takes patience, time, concentration to appreciate. I like music that takes time--and DKD's music, both minimal and lush--leaves much space for contemplation.
Here is the first single off of the album--a catchy, short number called "Martha Ann"mp3.
And here is a real treat--DKD and his sister singing a lovely acapella version of "Martha Ann" in the car:

This song is obviously one of the album's more upbeat offerings. The rest of the album, which deals primarily with familial relationships and ways of coping with death, is much more sparse. The last song, "Evensong" is very moving, soft, final--a delicate rendering of The Lord's Prayer accompanied by the music of locusts.
The albums's first song, "Wheelchairs" is what gave this post its name (which you will understand after watching the following video). If you have made it thus far, click below, watch the flickering images, listen to the words--and just let it all simmer:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Beautiful, Challenging Words For Easter

A Section from "East Coker" in T.S. Eliot's Four QuartetsIV

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Music Review: Bon Iver

I have just written my first (in a long time, since college really) album review which is up on my favorite new online magazine,Identity Theory. The subject of the review, Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago, is lovely-full of energy, raw honesty, life. Please do take a look at the review; I would love any feedback. I strongly recommend that you buy this album immediately--you won't be disappointed.
Here is the most well-known, perhaps catchy, track from the album: "Skinny Love" mp3

Also, above is the lovely, atmpospheric video for Bon Iver's "The Wolves (Act I&II).

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Try to Watch This Without Smiling

Bet you can't!
Indie rock optimism. Go figure.
Be sure to stick with it until the grand finale:

Giddy family fun with all 23 members of the Polyphonic Spree! The more I watch this, and am unable to NOT feel full and smiley, the more it reminds of the joys of everyday life as experienced in the L'abri community. This made me think of dear Merran Paul's simple, yet profound statement: "hold on to the good." The fullness and joy of community life in a place such as L'abri is a concentration of so many good things that are actually just parts of everyday life, not even just in that admittedly enchanted location. I need to learn to hold on to that perspective, hold on to the good. For some reason, this video inches me closer to that goal.
"I know that we're broken; it's been unspoken for such a long time."-Tim DeLaughter

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

I have just finished Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and am amazed, disturbed, perplexed. This is only the second Kundera offering I have read (the first was, of course, The Unbearable Lightness of Being). I admire the unconventional, creative mix of metafiction, autobiography, political discourse, magical realism. Kundera's peculiar talent for connecting so many disconnected things is both enlightening and frustrating--it's hard to hold it all together, but I am fascinated by the connections. I am still too amazed, dazed, and confused to write a coherent book review, but I wanted the opportunity to ask those of you who love this book why you love it so much. I am not sure that I do. Its cold philosophical observations, its desire to trample over every taboo--I am just not sure about it at all. I have come to expect gritty, even perverse, eroticism from Kundera--but his frequent romanticism of rape, even pedophilia, even if for "noble" magical realist and symbolic purposes, left me not wanting to fit some of these disconnected pieces together. I just wanted to forget that I had read certain sections of the "novel". I did very much enjoy Kundera's multi-angular discussion of memory--personal memory, political memory, societal memory. It's amazing how he weaves intimate autobiographical vignettes or fictional narratives into the larger social context as he explains that communism wants to create a future by erasing the past. The opening chapter has a strong visual example of this. Kundera explains that in February 1948 two communist leaders walked onto a balcony to address a crowd in Prague, and a famous photo was taken of the two men. Years later, one of the men was hanged for treason; therefore, he was erased in the "official" version of the photo. This desire to erase, rather than work through, the past is a central strand of this collection of essays and narratives. The two images he discusses can be seen here:

One last thing I wanted to mention (out of the many intriguing passages/concepts that I did like from the book) is a poignant character sketch of one of the central characters, Tamina. Kundera explains that Tamina is a true listener, never interrupting those who speak to her, not even for simple agreement. Because of this, she is well loved. This is something I have been thinking a lot about lately, especially in the wake of reading the previously mentioned Nouwen text. It seems that the desire to always agree with others, to connect our stories to theirs, can often be a means to project ourselves upon them rather than to listen to them. Kundera writes:
"The phrase 'It's absolutely the same with me, I...' seems to be an approving echo, a way of connecting the other's thought, but that is an illusion: in reality it is a brute revolt against a brutal violence, an effort to free our own ear from bondage and to occupy the enemy's ear by force."
Kundera recognizes the great difficulty of allowing the other's "otherness", the recognition of a disjunction that leads to the violence of difference. We sometimes (not always) want to cover others up with our talking, even if this covering masquerades as an act of concern or connection. This is a simple, yet profound and challenging psychological insight.
I recognize that this post is disjointed--and I must admit my experience of the book is as well. What has your experience been with Kundera in general, and with this book in particular?

What I Missed this Week

How annoying that the one week that I am sick flat out in bed, struggling to go and teach, we have two fascinating speakers visit our university. In one week I have missed both author/educator Frank McCourt and poet/ex-Black Flag member and hardcore pioneer/ all around angry guy Henry Rollins! What an unlikely coupling. Of course, they did not speak on the same night, and probably don't know each other. But I think they probably both have some pretty,um, interesting things to say. I am curious to know if any of you have ever heard Rollins, in particular, do his krazy "spoken word" thang.
Here are some vids of each of them, just to remind me of what I missed!

Interestingly, the McCourt lecture was free, whereas Henry Rollins' gig cost a ridiculous 20 bucks. Real punk rawk, Henry. Interesting that he rants and raves about the dumb downed products of corporate America, yet you have to practically be a yuppy yourself to afford to go see the guy. At that price, not even sure I would have gone if I was well.
Just for fun, here is a clip of Rollins on Drew Carey--one of those exciting little YouTube gyms.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Isn't This Lovely?

"Towers" by Headlights

Backstage Sessions: Headlights - Towers from Hard to Find a Friend on Vimeo.

You can find all kinds of good stuff, including fun "backstage sessions" on this great music blog.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Loneliness at the Heart of the Human Condition?

A good conversation that I had with a good friend last night caused me to think back over some reading (Henri Nouwen and Blaise Pascal) I had been doing over the summer. My friend and I were talking, and I mentioned what I perceived as the essential “aloneness” of the human condition—that we are trapped within our own individual “conceptual frameworks", that no other human being can really understand the way our narrative has woven itself together. But can even we understand the events of our lives, our responses, how we are constantly changed and changing, and how all this fits together to form our “story”? We seem to be isolated from ourselves in our lack of self awareness and constant desire to deceive ourselves. Even when we desire to be honest, we have problems interpreting ourselves. I guess I basically agree with my dear Blaise Pascal that both the self and the other are mysteries, full of contradictions. He also says that in recognizing this we are led to a point of despair that leads to faith rather than “scientific” certainty, faith in God and in others—both evidenced not in “knowable” data, but through relationship.

In his book Reaching Out, Nouwen observes that our culture continually keeps us in a “state of anaesthesia” so that “ we panic when there is nothing or nobody left to distract us”. The source of this panic is a debilitating fear of loneliness, a fear that causes us to run to people, planning, activities, books, anything to keep us from dealing with our “human predicament”. Nouwen refutes the cultural assertions that being lonely means that you aren’t around the “right” people, haven’t found the “right” partner--loneliness, he says, is at the core of the human condition--and people, things, special experiences can’t take it away. He even makes a fascinating claim that this paralyzing fear of recognizing our own aloneness has led to a decline in cultural creativity. He asks:
“Does not all creativity ask for a certain encounter with our loneliness, and does not the fear of this encounter severely limit our possible self-expression?”

Nouwen also claims that when we cling to others to rid us of our loneliness, “we are, in fact, driving ourselves into excruciating relationships, tiring friendships and suffocating embraces”. He claims that we often burden others with “divine expectations, of which we ourselves are often partially aware”. When these “Messianic expectations” are not met by another person, we resort to what Nouwen sees as a “violence of thoughts--violating the mind with suspicion, inner gossip or revengeful fantasies”.

Okay, enough for today…

Sunday, February 3, 2008

What Should I Watch Next?

I talk about films quite a bit in all of my classes. So much, that my students often bring films to me that they love and want me to watch. Right now, I have four films loaned to me by students that I have kept TOO long. I never seem to get around to watching them. They are: Unbreakable, Requiem for a Dream, Pi, and Sicko. Please let me know what you know about these films--and let me know which I would watch first. I seem to have some of the most comment-shy friends on the blogosphere. Please don't be shy! I want to hear what you think.

I have always really wanted to watch Reqiuem, but have been quite afraid--have heard some horror stories about it (the intensity and trauma of it).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Hiya. I have been pleased to go to some local shows and enjoy some pretty dang good music recently. Last week, Lisa, Abby, and I went to see Charles Allison, Reeve Hunter, and Mermaid Police in a red church basement that, at times, smelled like farts.

Here are some pictures to prove it (not the fart part). It was our first time to see Reeve perform and we thoroughly enjoyed it--this dude is krazy creative and quirky fun. Here is a picture of Reeve and an mp3 of one of my fave songs of the night:

"The Rummage" Mp3
Some of my other recent local faves are the good guys from The Heroes are Horses and Christmas Fiddle (guy singular).
Check out their music here:
The Heroes are Horses
Christmas Fiddle

Below: Christmas Fiddle is spoilt by choice at the new Greenlife:

Lastly, a few weeks ago I got to see a kooky fun band called How I Became the Bomb from not-far-away Murfreesboro, TN.
Their show was fantastic--tight, spiffy music full of energy and fun. Lots of synthesizers- and a synth player decked out in baggy seersucker pants and a pastel jacket who entertained us with near flips and multiple jumps while performing. The bass player had on a slick black Members Only jacket. Nuff said. Here is a groovy foto of above described synth player, followed by an Mp3 by the band. Be sure to also check out the songs "Robo" and "Secret Identity" on the above linked Myspace page.

Killing Machine Mp3
I'm still pretty short on time and unable to write anything really substantial. But please do stay tuned. I have a few comments, soon to be made, on No Country For Old Men, Flannery O'Connor, and Friedrich Nietzsche . And the once promised, never-written, post on the rebirth of religious imagination in indie music IS coming at some point, although I have forgotten most of what I wanted to say in the first place.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Some People I Would Love to See Right Now

I was just looking though my photos folder, and realizing how many lovely photos I have found (stolen!) from various places on the web of folks I love and miss.
*Darling Dominique and Maarten (from Germany and Holland respectively)--in Newcastle:

Naomi,dear friend from L'abri-the koolest 19 year old I have ever met:

Workers from English L'abri--Stefan, Andrew, and Jeff (Jeff and Heather now live in Chattanooga-yay!):

Newcastle Flatmate, May, frolicking at the Coast:

David, now in London, then smoking in Paris:

Dear Delphine in the South of France--I haven't seen her in so long:

Bill, who is now in Iraq. Before leaving, goofing around with kids from the Compound:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What Do You Think of This? Will Oldham and Kanye West

I was so excited the first time I saw this--Will Oldham in a Kanye West video! At first, I found it very funny and entertaining, and still do to some extent. But the problem is that I REALLY like this song and think that the lyrics are brilliant. One of my students even wrote a kick-ass essay on it last semester. After thinking through the lyrics and watching the video again, I just really don't like it (the video that is) all that much. This particular brand of kool indie dude everything is so funny and we are so detached humor just does not work for me in this context. Yes, Kanye is ironic and funny, but in a very different way--and the video seems to detract from the song, turn it into something "just funny" that two really cool (of course we all know they are) white dudes both mock and, perhaps, still appreciate. Hmmm. I think there is a lot more to say on this strange juxtapostion--I need to think about it a bit more. Maybe my mind will change on this one--am curious to know what anyone else thinks.

I think I am going to ask my classes what they think about it tomorrow, especially the girl who wrote the essay. They probably have no idea who either one of the guys in the video are.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Yeah, Oh Yeah

So, I do plan to write something of some substance sometime soon. But for now...
Just for Fun: I found three versions (two covers) on youtube of a song I have liked for a while from the Magnetic Fields. Here is the original (mp3) of "Yeah, Oh Yeah", followed by a vid Stephin Merritt and Co. performing it live. The next two versions are by John Vanderslice and St. Vincent and Tullycraft (so fun!). Hope you like 'em.
"Yeah, Oh Yeah" mp3 by the Magnetic Fields
Magnetic Fields Live:

John Vanderslice and St. Vincent Live

Tullycraft Live