Thursday, September 2, 2010

Endorsed by "The New Yorker"

If arguments from authority mean anything, anymore.

In an interview with Philip Roth, Milan Kundera said, “When I hear learned arguments that the novel has exhausted its possibilities, I have precisely the opposite feeling: in the course of its history the novel missed many of its possibilities.” If so many musicians are comfortable with returning to the past to pick up lost possibilities, we might do well to let go of our allegiance to our heroes, so that more of their work can reveal itself.


Tulkinghorn said...

This is EXACTLY the sort of thing that should be encouraged.... I've had this record for years.

I just spent ten minutes of so looking back to find what I had remembered as a previous posting devoted to Sharon Jones: the queen of the Brooklyn Renaissance.

Tulkinghorn said...

That last quote, which I missed in my first skim of the Frere-Jones essay, is wonderful.

As I understand it, Daptone Records is a company largely funded by the windfall the Dap-Kings received as the back-up band for Amy Winehouse's zillion-selling first record. They are pretty much free from most commercial pressures and can make the kind of records they'd like to hear rather than the poisonous crap that is popular right now.

They're dedicated to the preservation and extension of a certain kind of soul music, and are self-consciously old-fashioned: recording on analog equipment, releasing a number of their records on 45s only, that sort of thing.

Thinking of the project as returning to the junction and taking another road -- correcting the mistakes of the past -- is very satisfying.

A lot of people, like Frere-Jones, initially react to this sort of thing as regressive, reactionary, dress-up, and (almost) black-face -- like the guys who used to dress up in red-striped coats to play "Dixieland" jazz on the Lawrence Welk show.

Ideally, though, this could very much be something different -- more like all those kids in England listening to blues records in the late fifties and early sixties.