These Books Live Up to Their Titles / The Sheepdogs / Rita Chiarelli
For the past decade, towards the end of each year, Da Capo Press has published a set of essays, feature articles, interviews, blogs and profiles under the banner Best Music Writing (of the given year).
The pattern continues and the latest edition is Best Music Writing 2010
, as compiled and overseen by Ann Powers, the chief pop critic for the Los Angeles Times
Powers joined an elite list of guest editors who have all overseen various editions in the series: respected music scribes Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau of the Village Voice
, and Peter Guralnick (who has over the years delivered insightfully dense manuscripts including 'Lost Highway', and the 2-volume biography of Elvis Presley, titled 'Last Train To Memphis' and 'Careless Love') .
The Grateful Deadís Mickey Hart accepted the offer to cull what he felt were the best pieces of music journalism in 2004, and the parade of guest editors also boasts the likes of Matt Groening and novelist Nick Hornby.
The pieces found in these collections weave a scroll of disparate tales strung together, the common bond being music and engaging, creative writing.
Take a random glance back at previous volumes and the make-up of Best Music Writing 2001
, the second edition, jumps out of the pack.
Content includes glimpses into the worlds of Neil Young and Cameron Crowe - the latter being the onetime Rolling Stone columnist who wrote the autobiographical screenplay for 'Almost Famous', which is arguably the finest cinematic piece on rock music, capturing a time when corporate America was descending on the music scene. The first of 27 pieces in the 2001 publication is a humorous look at a book called the 'Rock Snobís Dictionary' and one of the windy cityís best musical ambassadors, Robbie Fulks, spins an eye-rolling, bile-raising piece on being audited by the IRS. Another musician who contributed to the rock solid edition of have all overseen various editions in the series is drummer Bill Bruford of King Crimson and Yes fame, as his 'Delta Nights' piece was originally published in The New Yorker
. Before one had wandered through the whole collection, an introduction to the Palestinian hip-hop scene via a piece titled West Bank Hard Core reminded readers of the tortured brilliance of jazz singer Billie Holiday in an essay that had first been accepted by the editors at Atlantic Monthly
Last year Greil Marcus included a piece that put the microscope on Guns Ní Roses and the album 'Chinese Democracy'. It sat alongside another that took us into one corner of the world of National Public Radio, and one that dropped us into a teacherís classroom in New Orleans where Little Wayne was the only cultural reference point any of his students cared to examine. Readers were also treated to the liner notes from Rhino Records' re-issue of The Replacements' 'Let It Be', and a straight-from-the-hip yet sensitive column written by Rosanne Cash for the New York Times
titled 'The Ear of the Beholder'.
On to this latest edition and thereís much to munch on. How about a great rant in the form of 'Twitter and the Death of Rock Criticism', as well as a piece pulled from Rolling Stone called 'The Fighter: The Life and Times of Merle Haggard'. I will get to the one titled 'Lady Gaga In Hell' while Iím relaxing on holidays this week.
This indeed was a great idea when it showed up years ago and series editor Daphne Carr deserves credit for spearheading something so vital and enlightening that works from such a broad template. At the end of the day these books are about our love of music, all the ingredients that go into making sounds and the privilege of promoting culture and respectfully dissecting and assessing who and what has made a memorable impact on our diverse tastes.
Thatís a pretty good equation for success which is why the series continues to grow.
Youíve got to love it that Saskatoonís The Sheepdogs
have been picked to be part of a contest that will put a new act on the cover of Rolling Stone
Described on the magazineís website as a throwback to the seventies, thereís no doubt that the band loves to draw on the fire that the Allman Brothers stoked way back when.
Actually there are a few prizes in this contest that are just as important as having that pic on the cover of RS
. The winning act will also be handed a slot at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee and be inked to a recording deal with Atlantic Records.
If you havenít heard the Ďdogs check out their latest album Learn & Burn
. The title track is a gem that sounds like Carlos Santana hooked up with Moby Grape.
And if you want to help the guys out, head to either the bandís website
or the Rolling Stone site
and cast a vote their way.
has been enjoying the collective response to the documentary movie Music From The Big House
that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall and had subsequent screenings at the Edmonton and Calgary International Film fests a few weeks later.
The work hasnít ended with the release of the film, however, as the singer-songwriter and guitarist has been hard at work in a Stratford studio finishing up a soundtrack release.
ďItís not just a collection of tunes, weíve been adding some of the soundscapes and a bit of dialogue from the film. John Haysen who recorded everything you heard in the movie has been working with me and it also looks like weíre adding one tune that didnít make the film. That song is an old tune called 'Mississippi Boy' and itís an ancient tune from Charlie Wilson,Ē says Chiarelli, who expects to release the soundtrack later this year.