Thursday, December 10, 2020

Various Times: November 7, 2012 by Eugene V. Booth with Chrris Kuck and Jack Henrie Fisher


(Dum Ditty Dum, 2020) Yesterday I was marveling at the audacity of committing to do a podcast summarizing each of Bonanza's 431 episodes, but the ambition of this project really blows me away. Each book in this series covers a single day in the rock era, so this is a proposed 25.550 (and counting) volume set!  Though the dates are randomly generated this one happened to fall on the somewhat historical Obama reelection date, and though most of the material here is not Obama related, race relations and systematic racism have staring roles in this musical snapshot curated by Booth (and his consultants). For the most part this book focusses on Kendrick Lamar's triumphant 2012 LP, which was #1 that day, and the Peter Brotzman Tentet, which was on A European tour playing one of their final shows. For the former, Booth researches and analyzes the artist's history and the album's contents, and for the latter he interviews Fred Lonberg-Holm, and challenges Amiri Baraka's rejection of Brotzman (and other white improvisors), in part because Baraka dismisses some of these groups upon hearing their goofy names (which is, incidentally,  how this book opens, with Booth deciding not to dig deeper into the #2 Billboard song, "Some Nights," by fun., which he is unfamiliar with, not interested by, and gives up on partly because of the name. I don't know the song either, but I recall being impressed by their hit "We Are Young," which sounds pretty but is about genuinely miserable people getting blackout drunk because life, which includes a protagonist regretful for beating a his girlfriend, is terrible. AV Club once summarized the song as a celebration of how great it is to be young, so judging by names gets around). Anyhoo, this book kind of reminds me of The Best Show bit about the Rock, Root, and Rule book (I'm unsure of, but endorse, that Oxford comma). While this is the opposite (detailed analysis vs. a column of band names facing a column of rulings on ruling [or not]), they share the premise of publishing a book about the pop music musings you and your friends shared at length over coffee. This is not only because Booth recounts discussing these matters with knowledgable co-conspirators, and includes a Q and A with a cello fellow he admires, but because the premise and execution of this series feels more like an exercise than an academic pursuit. Specifically, it feels like the exercise of indulging in minutiae and exploring broad themes and making crazy comparisons (what rock opera does To Pimp A Butterfly most recall?) in the act of fellowship with your fave record collector buddies over beers, a bong, or brewed java. And it's nice to be invited to clink steins, take a hit, or pass the Splenda.

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