by J. Nimi
33 1/3 books, 2007, paperback
When I met Peter Buck I thanked him for R.E.M.'s introducing me to the music of The Soft Boys and the Velvet Underground. My friend Joel was shocked that I failed to express my love for R.E.M. to Peter Buck. It just seemed a given, I do hope he knew that. R.E.M. for me was like those friends who introduce you to things that help you figure out what you're about as well as share things that they know you will love. J. Nimi does just that in this book on Murmur. I also realize now I don't really know that much about Murmur and, while this book fills in some of that, his discussion of Walker Percy's The Message in the Bottle is his gift, as well as this thoughtful text about Murmur.
A few selections:
xi- "But isn't that how we feel about records we love- that without us, they wouldn't exist? That they continue to mediate your existence, even after you shut off the stereo, shelve the records, "outgrow" the band?
-Francisco Varela: "Every act of knowing brings forth a world."
xii- Richard Brilliant's My Laocoon- "how a personal experience of a work of art can become tainted by what history has to say about it."
xiii- restrain the imagination
-"Murmur is part object...part text...and part performance."
xiv- "Murmur was and is about not understanding things too quickly or too assuredly. An artist wants his or her work to be "understood," but by a particular means also inscribed as a part of that work."
1- recorded in Charlotte, NC
12 (being in a band) "is not so much about freedom as it is about the giving up of one kind of burden for another."
43- "the common fear of not being heard"
50- Marat's death
52- "tell now what is dreaming"
55- Lionel Trilling: "The poet...may be used as a barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather."
56- Thoreau: "each railroad tie was a soul- the passing of a freight train was a night requiem to the railroad ties..."
61-62- Kudzu- James Dickey- "unkillable ghosts"
62- kudzu to a Midwesterner
63- Gerhard Richter
68- Edmund Burke
74- 1st demo tape- sticker, "do not open"
76- David Rothenberg: "The Phenomenology of Reverb" quoting Edmund Husserl: "...once a sound happens, it immediately goes away; and the moment it's over, we begin to forget it. That's what memory, in fact, is: the history of forgetting."
79- Irving Howe: "the Reaganites have largely succeeded in restoring popular confidence in the virtues of capitalism, the mystical beneficence of "the free market," and the attractiveness of a "minimalist state" even though that state, faithfully attending to corporate needs, has never been close to being minimalist."
80- "Coca-Cola didn't sell soda pop; they sold corn, in the form of corn syrup, a product that greatly offset the economic gap created in the wake of the gasoline crisis of the later 1970s."
89- Michael Stipe: "We want our records to be like doors to other worlds."
90- Walker Percy's "Metaphor as Mistake"
93- Robert Frost, "poetry is what gets lost in translation"
-Eli Khamarov: "poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition."
93-94- MS: lyrics "a blank chalkboard for people to pick up and scribble over"
98- "Murmur is a record that needs to be completed by the listener, but she has written herself out of the picture altogether, not to mention the music."
101- "When you illuminate the sublime, you get a sharper darkness."
108- "For most of history, up until very recently, music was heard only when it was performed."
125- "But part of projecting yourself into a pop song is the tacit notion that you're able to momentarily leave behind the real narrative that you normally inhabit."