Archive for the ‘How to Destroy Angels’ Category

CV1_TNY_12_17_12Sorel.inddSOUNDTRACK: JONI MITCHELL-“The River” (2002).

joniMuch like Zadie Smith in the article, I was never much of a Joni Mitchell fan.  We may be one of the only houses in America without a copy of Blue somewhere.  Much of my ignorance about her comes from simply not being exposed to her.  Which also seems absurd and yet it is true.

I know her from covers, which should establish her as a great songwriter, if nothing else.  And by now I know a number of her songs, like this one.  This is kind of a Christmas song (it has the word Christmas in it), although it’s not very Christmassy.  I have a hard time believing that Zadie Smith’s husband never noticed that she is quoting the music from Jingle Bells in the beginning of the song though, as it’s really quite obvious.

It’s a  pretty song, and hey maybe it’s time to see what else is on Blue.

[READ: December 20, 2012] “Some Notes on Attunement”

I love hearing about Zadie Smith’s family–her hip black mother and her dorky white father.  I love that she embraces both sides of her life.  And when she writes about it, she presents it so fully.  So growing up her parents listened to Burning Spear and Chaka Khan and Duke Ellington and James Taylor and Bob Dylan and yet somehow never Joni Mitchell.  And she wonders how they didn’t know or perhaps why they didn’t like her.  [My parents were to old for folk music, so that’s my excuse].

She talks about the first time she heard Joni, at a college party (it was Blue, of course) and frowned at it.  Her friends, both black and white said, “You don’t like Joni?”  But, she explains, “Aged twenty, I listened to Joni Mitchell–a singer whom millions enjoy, who does not, after all, make an especially unusual or esoteric sound–and found he incomprehensible.”

And then at 33 she had another experience–listening to Joni Mitchell in a car with her husband on the way to Wales.  Which is where we hear her saying “And that bit’s just Jingle Bells.”  She says she didn’t expect to get much out of that line “and was surprised to see my husband smile, and pause for a moment to listen intently: “Actually that but is Jingle Bells–I never noticed that before.  It’s a song about winter…makes sense.”  Wait, how could he not hear that before??? (more…)

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CV1_TNY_12_17_12Sorel.inddSOUNDTRACK: JOHNNY CASH-“Hurt” (2002).

cashI had never heard the Johnny Cash version of this song, but since it was mentioned in the article, I wanted to check it out.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Cash.  I like some of his stuff, but I’m not on board with the whole iconic man in black thing.  But I understand his tough guy schtick.

And that’s why I have a problem with Johnny singing this.  It s just too angsty for what I know from Cash.  Cash is a badass, he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.  I just don’t buy “I hurt myself today to see if I still feel” coming from him.  And I don’t like the delivery of the verses.

On the other hand I like the chorus a lot.  The guitar sounds great here and it is less angsty than the verses: “I will let you down, I will make you hurt.”  That I can buy.  And I like the way he delivers those lines as well.

So I come away from this with a mixed feeling.  And yes, I still prefer the Nine Inch Nails version.

Interestingly, Reznor was really moved by the video, which I have not seen.

[READ: December 20, 2012] “Music from the Machine”

I was a little dismissive of Nine Inch Nails when Pretty Hate Machine came out.  I liked “Head Like a Hole” but felt the whole album was a commercialization of the industrial sound.  And indeed, it was, but I’m less of a purist now, so I can deal with it.

After Pretty Hate Machine, I fell head over heels for NIN, and I think that “March of the Pigs” and all of The Downward Spiral are amazing.  But after The Fragile, I lost interest again.  Perhaps NIN was a phase.

This article reintroduced me to Reznor.  I never really wanted to know that much about him, and thankfully, this piece only gives a little bit of background (unlike some of the really long New Yorker biographies, this one is nice and tidy with some family history but not too much).  It really focuses more on what he has been up to since he put Nine Inch Nails on hiatus (and since he won an Oscar!). (more…)

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