Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Color Me Embarassed

I just looked at the date and it's been two weeks since our last post. Embarassing. Our collective bad. We weren't really doing anything -- we just weren't blogging. In fairness to us though, the DC concert slate has looked a little barren lately, but it's about to heat up soon.

In the meantime, I've personally been doing a lot of rock-reading, as my last post suggests. Last night I finished Decemberist head hauncho Colin Meloy's 33 1/3 series book on The Replacements' seminal Let It Be. I picked it up this weekend in Boston (the Harvard Book Store had an extensive collection of them) and started reading on Monday evening. It's a slim volume.

This was my second in the series, the first being Love's Forever Changes by Andrew Hultkrans. The two could hardly be more different. Where Hultkrans was all about setting Arthur Lee and Love's anti-Summer-of-Love, psych-folk manifesto in its proper historical and cultural context, Meloy's is really about himself. Frankly, he barely even touches the material at hand, providing no details about the album's genesis, its musical style and structure save a few lyrical snippets that serve only to illuminate his emotions as a middle-schooler in Montana.

In that sense, it was pretty disappointing. When Meloy offers a taste of that in describing the MTV-baiting "Seen Your Video", it seemed to promise that more might be on the way. In fact, he's much more concerned with discussing the cover -- which I never found particularly remarkable at all, though appropriately tossed-off and well-suited to the 'Mats -- than the music within. Meloy mentions that some of his fans might find his choice of an all-time favorite album surprising, as it doesn't sound a damn thing like his own band, The Decemberists. It's somewhat ironic, then, that the book probably most appeals to Decemberist fans (I wouldn't count myself in that group), as it's a nice little read about how Meloy fell in love with music, about how music became a part of his personal identity as a young teenager in Helena, MT. He also writes well, with a short, concise style that is just as far from his word-stuffed songs as the Replacements music is from the Decemberists'.

So I didn't love it, but still an interesting entry to one of my favorite concepts in music writing. Next time I'm checking out the Velvet Crush/Tyde drummer Ric Menck's take on one of my dad's favorite, The Byrds' David Crosby swansong, Notorious Byrd Brothers. Anybody else care to recommend (or not) one of the books in the series?


Hoodrat said...

hmmm, i've never been more than moderatedly impressed by one of these. but i'm really pretty excited by the yet-to-be-released one about black sabbath by john darnielle, written in the voice of a 15-year-old:

Anonymous said...

FYI: Crooked Beat on 18th St. NW in Adams Morgan has a decent selection of 33 1/3 books for sale.