Best Music Scribing- done for now?

The good people at PopMatters put out my listing of best music journalism of 2009. Hope you like it.

After going through the exhausting process of putting it together in late December and thinking about the previous 11 months that I spent compiling the material, I'm thinking that it might be a good time to take a break from doing this list every year. This will be the seventh listing I've done, with the last three of them appearing here at PM, while all the previous ones appeared at

Don't get wrong- I like doing the work as far as I think that MAYBE it provides a good source for anyone interested in music journalism as well as a bunch of well-deserved pats on the back for some great writers (and a couple of pies thrown at some bad ones too). I was also gratified to hear from Greil Marcus, who compiled the latest Da Capo series on music journalism, saying that he found my previous list to be useful in his own research as did the editor at Perseus who said that my guides were regularly used as a reference for the series.

I have to admit though that it's pretty tiring work and to be even more honest, I'm not sure what I get out of it anymore. I love to write and edit but I have to try to balance that with the work on my own zine (where I'm finishing up the next issue now), my freelance work (just handed in two assignments and I have two more to do now), not to mention my day job. Also, I want to do more blogging right now (like this) plus add more to the two other blogs that I do, at Ye Wei (centered more on individual releases and musicians) and for Audubon magazine (not to mention the one that I promised to do for WFMU and occ. for Boogie Woogie Flu). Also, I still feel really bad for dropping the ball on the idea for an NYC music commission (which I'd still be glad to help with if someone else took up the mantle) and I'd still love to do a collection of non-U.S./U.K. music journalism as there's some great writing out there might many music fans never see. I really want to do a good job with these other things and having this extra work detracts from it. This is basically the same reason that I decided to give up on producing reissues, even though I was very proud of those too (Kleenex/Liliput, Delta 5, Essential Logic, Oh OK, DNA).

I'm also concerned frankly that I'm getting too glued to my computer as I'm doing all this work and want to free myself up a bit from it. When I'm old and incapacitated, it'll be fine for me to park myself in front of my computer and type away all day. Before then, I'm like to spend more time with my girlfriend, see my friends and family more, experience life outside of my apartment on evenings and weekends, etc.. Not that I'm automatically gonna do all those things but let's just say that now I'll have less excuses to avoid them.

I'm not looking for any sympathy here but I would have one request for other writers out there. It would be great if someone else could do these yearly listings- not just compiling a list of noteworthy articles but also come up a decent summation of each year, trying to synthesize the info, look forward and add some suggestions and ideas about what should or could be happening. Da Capo's series does this to some extent but we need more than one voice addressing this each year.

Who knows? I might get bored and jump back into this by the end of the year or later but hopefully, I've earned my time off for now. Time for some new blood to jump in there and mix it up!

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.