Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 28 - 30, 2008

The Importance of Music to Girls
Lavinia Greenlaw
2007, hardcover
10 cards

The music issue of The Believer came the other day and in it was an essay by Lavinia Greenlaw. In the essay she deals with issues of relationships, music and being, merging them all into a beautiful telling of life lived. I rushed to the library to find her book which sounded equally wonderful in title, The Importance of Music to Girls (!), and started reading fast and furiously.

It's a good book, it is, but somehow the magic in this essay doesn't carry through the whole book, though some moments are priceless and perfectly captured. It's always odd to me that people who love music, those who listen rather than make it, don't write as universally about its appeal as it seems one could. I haven't figured out the mystery myself by any means. Perhaps by trying to put into words those moments when you listen to music by yourself lets too many other people into the room. I believe someone can do it, and I thought it might be this book, but not so much.

Some excerpts:
14- "For the first time I understood that belonging was a way of escaping myself and of finding a place in the world..."
15- "I could keep up, but I did not belong because I had not learned to contain myself within the figure I was making."
26- records, starting with what's at hand- your parent's collection- Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline and Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water
-"I read the titles and listened to the lyrics as if deciphering hieroglyphics."
28- "On this album, Dylan is feeling out the big words in particular and letting them go only when the edges have been worn down."
38- corduroy
46- (Donny Osmond) "...decided he would be my favorite pop star. Somehow I knew I needed one and as I'd never heard of him, I assumed no one else had either. I was looking for my first musical discovery and wanted it to be as private and singular as my feelings about the boy at school."
48- "I began to understand pop as a construction."
-"Marooned among them were bands I was beginning to classify. Like a child filling a stamp album or collecting eggs, I needed to create order and name names."
49- categories
52- "The waiting of childhood, the waiting to be told what was happening, was replace by waiting for something to happen- the arrival of a bus, the appearance of a friend."
84- "I was becoming a girl as instructed by girls but I knew I wasn't a real girl, at least not of this kind."
100- Eddie and the Hot Rods
101- The Damned
110- "...I realized that I was in a room with boys and music but nothing was meant to happen."
111- "As a rule of thumb, rock was for boys and disco was for girls, but soul was a place where we might meet."
112- "The interesting boys did not sing along, they discussed..."
114- "(Why did girls never play air guitar? Did we sing along because singing was what girls did or was it that girls only sand because they didn't play air guitar?)"
118- Punk- collaging images from NME
122- "God Save the Queen"- #1, blank spot on the charts
-"Jamie Reid's cover was more disturbing than the song itself."
127- Quote from Johann Wolfgag von Goethe, A Theory of Colors: "...color...exhibits itself by separation and contrast, by commixture and union by augmentation and neutralization, by communication and dissolution."
128- "The colors of punk, like its rumor, set off a vibration and cracks began to appear- orange socks, blue hair, lime-green nails, pink trousers."
-"In punk, color combinations were dishwater and vomit. It was a form of aesthetic resistance, a spectrum chosen to remind the world of all that was unnatural or decayed: pink like rubber rather than roses, green like snot rather than leaves."
132- "...while the boys were serious about music, they didn't expect me to be so too."
135- "The strongest impulse I had was toward freedom."
170- Barthes quote (though not an amazing one)
-"The greatest act of love was to make a tape for someone."
-"An LP was something of substance and vision."
172- "I bought two Velvet Underground LPs as soon as I found them..."
-"I declared allegiance, took a position and always had a view."
173- Joseph Beuys
-Pompidou Centre- "but I had never before come across a building (or song, or person...?) that did not hide how it was put together."
181- NME- "Serious music criticism was then very serious indeed. Records were assessed not only musically but also according to their cultural context and philosophical connotations."
-"I liked the way these critics wrote and feel under the rhetorical spell of their semicolons, qualifications and parentheses."
183- "These journalists used a cultural vocabulary that we deployed with the same thoughtlessness as teenage slang: postmodern (good), semiotic (?), eclectic (usually good), esoteric (v. good), moderne (trying too hard), postindustrial (interesting), decadent (usually bad)."
-"Irony protected you from accusations of sincerity- so much for being serious."
190- "Daniel and I discussed the world, but only in theory- Barthes and Foucault."
194- "Was it, after all, that men wanted to tell women things and not be told?"
200- t-shirt in a window- "Fuck Art, Let's Dance. I copied it onto the back of a postcard and sent it to Daniel. It was the first love letter I'd ever written."

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