Showing posts with label Neil Young. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Neil Young. Show all posts

Monday, February 2, 2009

Download This

Yesterday, soon after posting my blog, “Post Rock,” I happened to read about Neil Young’s hilarious new single, “Fork in the Road,” in the latest issue of Rolling Stone (Issue 1071, February 5, 2009, p. 68). Having watched the video for the song on, I was so struck by the similarity of theme between his single and my blog on “Post Rock” that I’m providing a link to the video here. The video depicts Young rocking along to a blues groove holding what appears to be a pair of iPod earbuds plugged into a big red apple. He sings, “I’m a big rock star/My sales have tanked/But I still got you... thanks.” But he then continues, “Download this,” he sings as he holds up the apple, “it sounds like shit,” only to then take a bite out of the apple and throw it away in disgust, and then pines for the old days of radio. The difference, of course, between his form of communication and mine is that my presentation is more conventional, expository in nature, written for an audience that is expecting me to deliver a particular kind of information. His video, on the other hand, is an example of what Gregory L. Ulmer has called “a dramatic, rather than an epistemological, orientation to knowledge” (Writing and Reading Differently, p. 39). The ideas contained in the two forms, however, are remarkably similar. Rarely has Young been funnier: “There’s a bailout comin’, but it’s not for me/It’s for all those creeps watching tickers on TV.” I urge you to check out the video by clicking on the link above.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Today's The Day

I apologize for not being the most diligent blogger of late, but I’ve been extremely busy working on my book proposal for consideration in Continuum’s 33 1/3 series of books on significant rock albums of the past forty years. Note that I avoided using the term “classic,” using “significant” instead, although many of the albums written about so far in the series I would consider classic rock albums. Many of the albums that have been the basis of books in the series, while not necessarily considered “classic” by the rock establishment, have shown a continuous market value and a stubbornly persistent public presence, and albums that have shown such resilience have been favored by the series editors as well.

I am happy to announce that I’m now finished with the proposal—three weeks later than I’d intended, however—and that it has now been officially submitted to the editors. I happen to consider the album I chose to write a proposal for a classic—Neil Young’s TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT (1975). I noticed that neither Neil Young nor TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT was listed among the artists in the first hundred proposals received by series editor David Barker, although that isn’t the reason I chose to write a proposal on it; indeed, I’d already decided to write on the album some time ago, even before the latest call for proposals was announced in early November. Of course, just because Neil Young wasn’t among the musicians listed in the first hundred proposals doesn’t mean one hasn’t since been received on Young, nor does it mean in the weeks since the posting of that list that the editor hasn’t received a proposal (or two) on TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT (A proposal for a book on the album was not submitted during the last call for proposals since the editors were then enforcing the one artist/one album rule.) In fact, I would be surprised if he hasn’t.

Why did I choose to write on TONIGHTS THE NIGHT? Not for the obvious reason that the album is acknowledged as a classic, but rather out of a desire to interrogate the very idea of what we mean by “classic” in the first place. While endorsed by the critical establishment—it is listed as #331 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, just above The Beatles’ HELP!—its total sales (this again according to Rolling Stone) are fewer than 500,000 in contrast to HARVEST’s 4.3 million copies sold. But the fact is, TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT speaks to me in a way that HARVEST does not, and as a sage old writer once remarked, you should write about what you know, so I chose to write about TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT.

What are my expectations? Hopeful . . . but realistic. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, odds for acceptance are about 1 in 25—not very good. But of course I assume I stand a chance or I wouldn’t have taken the time to submit a proposal. Please wish me luck! And if you’re that individual who submitted a book proposal on TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT and it is accepted rather than mine, then I can honestly say that I look forward to reading your book, because I'm very convinced the album merits such a focused discussion.