Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste
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Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste (33⅓ #52)

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,028 ratings  ·  208 reviews
Non-fans regard Céline Dion as ersatz and plastic, yet to those who love her, no one could be more real, with her impoverished childhood, her (creepy) manager-husband's struggle with cancer, her knack for howling out raw emotion. There's nothing cool about Céline Dion, and nothing clever. That's part of her appeal as an object of love or hatred â�� with most critics and co...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published December 15th 2007 by Bloomsbury Academic
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Dummy by R.J. WheatonIn the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Kim CooperLet's Talk About Love by Carl WilsonExile on Main St. by Bill JanovitzDusty in Memphis by Warren Zanes
33⅓
3rd out of 96 books — 32 voters
Please Kill Me by Legs McNeilChronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob DylanLove is a Mix Tape by Rob SheffieldOur Band Could Be Your Life by Michael AzerradPsychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
Best Non Fiction About Music
176th out of 741 books — 571 voters


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Buck
In Let’s Talk About Love, Carl Wilson does something brave and—alright, I’ll say it—noble. He takes Céline Dion seriously. Yeah, that’s right, Céline Dion: for many of us, the biggest block of cheese in the pop culture fromagerie. If this book doesn’t make you feel thoroughly ashamed of yourself for ever having put down Céline—and you know you have, you heartless snobs—then you’re beyond help and deserve to die under a huge pile of John Cage records.

Wilson’s bracing little pamphlet is part of th...more
Chris
Have you ever laughed at someone who claimed to actually enjoy Celine Dion's music? Have you ever felt like you were better than those people who love The Kite Runner or Mitch Albom's books? Have you ever forced all of your friends and family to watch a movie you loved because you were convinced that they needed to see it for their own good? My answers a few weeks ago would have been absolutely, of course, and who hasn't? but after reading this book, I would most likely nod sheepishly.

Wilson de...more
Paul
This is a beautiful meditation on art, one of the best I’ve ever read. Why do people like this kind of stuff and not that kind of stuff? Why do they then go further and say “My kind of stuff [be it novels, movies or pop music] is actually better than your kind of stuff – because I, you see, have really good taste, and you, well, now, I’m never going to tell you to your face, you understand, but your taste is... not the best, shall I say. I mean, you think The Shawshank Redemption is the best mov...more
Paul Austin
The 33 1/3 series would seem to be pretty much bulletproof in terms of hipster cred. In the Aeroplane Over The Sea, OK Computer, Pink Moon, Rid of Me, Paul’s Boutique, Loveless, Meat is Murder… even if your own choices for an “essential/seminal albums” list are different, these titles all have a lot going for them. Older albums covered — Music From Big Pink, Forever Changes, Court and Spark, Dusty in Memphis — have for years been hailed by the new kids on the indie block as favorites. If Conor O...more
John Moran
“Let's Talk About Love” is a studious, A-plus paper on the topic of “taste,” but it's also very dry, very quote-heavy, and very resistant (to use one of the author's, Carl Wilson's, own key words) to its own innate charms -- those charms being its personal touches: the book sparks to life in moments (like when Wilson flashes back to his ex-wife's performance of Buddy Holly's “Oh Boy” to express her feelings for her then-beau while in the throes of their infatuation; or when the author is besides...more
Patrick
I don’t like talking about my taste in music very much. Not in conversation, anyway. The same goes for books and video games. I always feel as though I’ve been given a brief moment in which to explain myself, to justify my own choices in a kind of secret language which ends up revealing far more about my personality than I might wish other people to know. And perhaps I do want to reveal something, from time to time, but for the most part I want to express an opinion peculiar to the person to who...more
Shannon
Holy Crap. Have I really just spent the last 3 days convincing my friends, loved ones and neighborhood shop keepers how misunderstood and really amazing Celine Dion is?.Thanks to this fantastic book, I have. I have touched those things and they felt so good! This may be my favorite book ever written about music, at least one of my favorites. Carl Wilson manages to drop Fanon and Kant all over the place and not be remotely pretentious! His writing style and perspective about taste and perception...more
Sam Quixote
Celine Dion.

What’s your response? Like me, it’s probably: ick. Right?

Well, you’re not alone as nearly everyone seems to have this response to Dion mostly thanks to her obnoxious monster hit, My Heart Will Go On, from James Cameron’s Titanic that won an Oscar and sold bazillions of copies worldwide. But chances are you won’t have heard much of her music beyond that song, or know much about her as a person, and yet the response to Dion is still: ick. Why?

That’s what Carl Wilson sets out to disco...more
Rachel
ATTENTION EVERYONE THIS IS NOT A JOKE: Please read this book. It is completely excellent in every way, and is possibly the best thing I have read since "Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs" and "Anna Karenina." (That was also not a joke.) Everything I believe about what it means to have musical opinions is talked about in here, with great intelligence, humor, and heart. DO IT! BUY IT! It makes an excellent holiday gift for hipster d-bags and also normal people.
Jesse
I haven't read any of the other selections in the 33 1/3 series, but have picked them up occasionally while browsing at bookstores. And from what I have glanced through generally seem like close readings of various canonical (or at least critic-approved) albums, some taking a more serious and scholarly approach, others with a bit more whimsy, but they always seem brimming with much enthusiasm, passion and love. Which is why Carl Wilson's entry on Let's Talk About Love, Céline Dion's massive, "My...more
Tosh
Feb 14, 2008 Tosh rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: those who are obsessed with pop culture and somehow have a heart to like Celine Dion
It can be but not really tailored made for the Celine Dion fan, but this book is really about the nature of taste in pop(ular) music and it's a fascinating read because of it. Basically Wilson hates this particular album, but he wants to know why. So with that in thought and with an open mind he goes into the world of Dion as well as the fans and of course fellow music lovers who hate her music.

The big moment for him was the Oscars where she won an award for the Titanic theme song. The author is...more
Alastair
A remarkable book. At times even a beautiful book, with none of the cynicism that the premise (a non-Celine Dion fan writing about Celine Dion) or series (known for in-depth looks at respected albums, with varying levels of quality and pretension) would suggest.

Wilson talks more around Celine than about her, using the topic as springboard for earnest, well-researched explorations of taste, subtlety, class, criticism, sentimentality and even some uncomfortable truths about his own life.

He's a won...more
Iris
Dec 06, 2010 Iris rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: lovers of music-art- culture, sufferers of winter boredom
Shelves: music, philosophy
This is a phenomenal little volume that packs a punch. If grad schools were worth $20,000 a year, they would demand not a dissertation, but a thesis like this to be produced by each student: a structured, concise scrutiny of an idea that's tossed around in philosophy ("Where does taste come from, and what do our opinions say about us?") and in everyday life ("I like all music except country, rap and Celine Dion"). The Canadian Mr. Wilson is a blast to read as he engages the reader in contemplati...more
Taylor K.
Mar 06, 2008 Taylor K. rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: anyone who's passionate about any form of cultural expression (books, movies, art, music, etc.)
Using Celine Dion as a case study, Wilson examines that old devil: taste. What's good taste? What's bad taste? What shapes our tastes? Why is taste important? Is taste important? This might sound boring removed from the context, but it's positively fascinating.

He talks about Celine Dion's history. He talks about the demographic of her fans. He talks about particular fans. Driven by his extreme dislike of Dion, he probes into why the hell does anyone like her music? There's plenty of respite for...more
Walter
Apr 15, 2008 Walter rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: 33-1-3, favourites
When I bought this book (in a record store in Seattle), the cashier did a double-take. It wasn't so much that I was buying the book. It was that the store carried a book about Celine Dion!

This book is as much about Celine's album "Let's Talk About Love" as it is about it's subtitle (A Journey to the End of Taste). While it would be easy to say, Wilson is using Celine's album as an excuse to talk about people's tastes, he ties in the subject so neatly that it'd difficult to believe that any albu...more
Christy
I saw this book on the internet somewhere and decided it looked intriguing enough to request from the library. I think it had more to do with the pleasing cover design than anything else. This ended up being a highly readable exploration of the history of popular music, the meaning of taste, and Celine Dion's particular place in the scheme of those things. Personally, I'm pretty much indifferent to Celine. I would skip over her songs on the radio, but I don't have any of the massive Celine-hate...more
A
Sep 14, 2009 A rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: read-2009
I'm sorry, but no. Please please please leave this book on the shelf and instead seek out the 33-1/3 volume on ABBA Gold, one of my all-time favorite books. THAT is where you will find a whip-smart hipster critic using schmaltzy pop as the springboard for funny, impeccably argued, stunning intellectual flights of fancy about aesthetics, music, and society, all wrapped up with a bow of unapologetic love for all things pop culture (high and low).

What you will find here is the opposite -- an utter...more
Patrick
One of the most interesting from the 33 1/3 series. At the beginning of the book, Wilson hates Celine Dion. He uses the book to investigate why he and others hate Dion and why millions love her. What is taste and where does it come from? In addressing questions of aesthetics and taste, Wilson also touches on race and ethnicity in Canada, Canadian culture, Quebec culture, Elliott Smith, cultural capital, social capital, punk covers of Celine Dion, the las vegas show, marketing music in the age of...more
Ian Coutts
It seems pretty unpromising -- a book about Celine Dion. In fact, it is one of the best books I have ever read on taste, aesthetics, and what we want from music. Particularly as these pertain to that rock music bugaboo "authenticity." I guarantee you'll never look at Celine Dion the same way again -- although you probably won't like her more than now. Wilson is brilliant.
Tamsin Barlow
I thought this might be a light examination into cultural tastes. Au contraire. After slogging through pages of Kant, Nietzsche, and various French philosophers I've come to realize the blistering truth: I'm a self-serving; a segregationist; an undemocratic macho rationalist; a person who is uncomfortable with representations of vulnerability and tenderness; who finds sentimentality threatening, catharsis embarrassing and am possibly paralyzingly repressed. I had no idea I was this sadly messed-...more
Kimley
The first 33 1/3 book that I've read that didn't actually make me want to listen to the album...

Every friend to whom I mentioned this book was certain that there was no way Céline Dion could have a critical reassessment. Gawd, my friends and I are such snobs!

But I really admire Wilson's candor and willingness to examine his own cultural snobbishness and the social germination of all our feelings of cultural superiority and need to belong to certain "tribes".

Maybe I should go crank some Céline on...more
Ian Mathers
Yeah, Justin was right - this is a five star book if any of them are. Wilson covers an astonishing amount - why rockism is both stupid and natural, my problems with glibness (both in the sense that I do it too much and in the sense that I think it's a problem), sincerity, just a ton of stuff. This is a wonderful book, and the stuff Wilson comes up with near the end is the closest thing I've seen in print to a version of what I feel we should be trying to do with criticism. And he's Canadian!
Greg
Highly entertaining essay by a professional music critic who decides to tackle Celine Dion's work and career--although he can't stand her. The commentary ranges from the history of schmaltz in America to an honest, probing look at the writer's own life and loves in order to illuminate why he simply can't connect emotionally with Celine's work. This is a book in a series of long-form critical essays on major albums; I think I'll pick up the Magnetic Fields one next.
William
Having just finished this on the subway, I'm at a near loss for words at how unexpectedly funny and beautiful a book this is. The closing chapter on growing up, on shame, and "democratic" taste is the perfect capstone to such an oddly personal and inter-disciplinary study of bad taste. One of many home truths that hits home, and the underlying message: "Personality is a creative medium of its own."
Ken Baumann
Cogent as hell. Got a little fatigued by how much it relied on the vocabulary of cultural criticism, and also thought that its best moments were its least outwardly critical. In other words, I liked the emotional and inquisitive stuff the most. Like Wilson, I wish more criticism felt so democratic, explorative, personal. But he did his part by writing this one.
Deke
A superlative meditation on popular music, quality, perspective and taste
Meg
I learned more from this 160 page book about aesthetics than I did in an entire class my senior year. AND I think I finally understood all those Kant readings from 1 page of this book. AKA, this book is freaking awesome.

Rereading it again in October '09 due to sheer awesomeness that I have to remember.
Patty
This is the best of the 33 1/3 series I've read. I loved it all the way through, from the clever chapter titles ("Let's Sing Really Loud") to the author's journey as he examines his own sense of taste and his judgment of the taste of others, to the scholarly investigation into taste. Fascinating throughout.
Aneesa
Dec 21, 2009 Aneesa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Aneesa by: Ben & Becky
A brilliant and exciting survey of the thought on and philosophy of taste and criticism, including some sociological experiments and the history of the people of Quebec. That being said, the tiny typeface hurt my eyes and it made me feel self-conscious on BART.
Jillian
Hilarious and insightful, and some of the language is just plain badass. Read, and for better or for worse, you will be forced to reconsider Celine Dion.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about Carl Wilson...
Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste The Broken Social Scene Story Project Celine Dion's Let's Talk about Love: A Journey to the End of Taste Let's Talk about Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste Winning the 3-Legged Race: When Business and Technology Run Together

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“And the places she turns up in Jamaica are all the more curious. I remember being at sound-system dances and hearing everyone from Bob Marley Kenny Rogers (yes, Kenny Rogers) to Sade to Yellowman to Beenie Man being blasted at top volume while the crowd danced and drank up a storm. But once the selector (DJ in American parlance) began to play a Celine Dion song, the crowd went buck wild and some people started firing shots in the air.... I also remember always hearing Celine Dion blasting at high volume whenever I passed through volatile and dangerous neighborhoods, so much that it became a cue to me to walk, run or drive faster if I was ever in a neighborhood I didn't know and heard Celine Dion mawking over the airwaves.” 14 likes
“Bourdieu's interpretation was that tastes were serving as strategic tools. While working-class tastes seemed mainly a default (serving at best to express group belongingness and solidarity), for everyone else taste was not only a product of economic and educational background but, as it developed through life, a force mobilized as part of their quest for social status (or what Bourdieu called symbolic power). What we have agreed to call tastes, he said, is an array of symbolic associations we use to set ourselves apart from those whose social ranking is beneath us, and to take aim at the status we think we deserve. Taste is a means of distinguishing ourselves from others, the pursuit of distinction. And its end product is to perpetuate and reproduce the class structure.” 2 likes
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