At the risk of sounding terrible, for all the difficult topics Brownstein covers in her memoir, this is really kind of a sweet reminiscence. While oveAt the risk of sounding terrible, for all the difficult topics Brownstein covers in her memoir, this is really kind of a sweet reminiscence. While overall it didn't feel that revelatory, I reeeeally appreciated how much she calls out her own bullshit...something I can get down with especially as I get older. And I kinda loved all the name-dropping--which I guess isn't really name-dropping because this is her real life--but it's something I don't always love in famous people's memoirs, but I loved it here. Got to binge-listen to this yesterday/this morning, which was a superb decision. Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag party starting in 3-2-1......more
Four stars mostly because this graphic bio has definitely sparked an interest to read more about John James Audubon. You do get the notion that you'reFour stars mostly because this graphic bio has definitely sparked an interest to read more about John James Audubon. You do get the notion that you're really not getting the whole story, further bolstered by the info in the notes at the end, but this surely lets you dip your toe in the water. Not always a fan of the art, but some of the wilderness scenes were beautiful....more
At first, I wondered if reading this wouldn't just be one prolonged "DUH" moment, but I was still curious. What I found wasLong Lindsay review ahead:
At first, I wondered if reading this wouldn't just be one prolonged "DUH" moment, but I was still curious. What I found was a profoundly more academic work than the mere pop culture assessment I was expecting...though not entirely surprising when I later noted its publisher, Harvard University Press. And it does read like a dissertation (Hamilton received his PhD in American Studies at Harvard), which I suspect will be off-putting for some readers. I, however, quickly became addicted to the book's analyses of sociology, sociolinguistics, and music theory and technique surrounding rock and soul music of the 1960s (primarily, though it does lead in with the '50s and meld a little bit with the '70s). I even went back and re-listened to parts, which is a behavior I don't usually do with audio books.
Being a kid who grew up obsessed with '60s music despite being a generation removed, I found the book rather poignant. Some of the discussions I particularly enjoyed were those on the four British subcultures--teddy boys, skiffle, trad jazz, and blues--that heralded the eventual "British Invasion" (itself, a loaded term, as Hamilton expertly pulls apart); the indelible connection between Motown and the Beatles (a relationship historians and critics only give cursory credit to); the dismissal of Motown as not being "black enough" compared to Stax or Muscle Shoals (despite Motown being black-owned as opposed to its Southern, "authentic," and white-owned counterparts) (it is also perception that I have fallen for...not to mention most white people I know); the ongoing thread that white artists covering songs by black artists and marketing to black audiences is permissible and lends an air of credibility (re: soul music: "Instead of music being something people did, music became something people were") whereas the opposite is seen as an Uncle Tom maneuver; the violence in the rock'n'roll lyrics of Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones and the subsequent exclusionary machismo that basically solidified the mythos of rock'n'roll; the whollllllle mess of The Rolling Stones; and...well, basically, white people are just awful. With a line from "Brown Sugar" informing the book's title, that Hamilton saved the discussion of that particular song for the final discussion is a brilliant culmination of the book.
This is not to say the book is totally flawless. The topic of race and popular music can go even deeper, of course, though that could be--and no doubt is in many cases--covered in more focused histories. There were a few things I had qualms with, the most striking to me being the chapter on women. I did appreciate that he devoted a chapter to Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and Dusty Springfield, though this largely confined the discussion of women in pop music to just that chapter. I also think Hamilton didn't go far enough in the implications of "Son of a Preacher Man" being written for Franklin. The fact that two white men wrote the song explicitly for Franklin to sing--a song that hinges upon the stereotypical objectification and fetishization of black women's sexuality and religion, and that these men blatantly disregarded what implications the song might have in relation to Franklin's own personal life--is problematic in itself. Also, that this book is written by a white male is not lost upon me.
I'm giving this 5 stars because it has given me a lot of food for thought. I would dearly love to see my former record store cohorts and my more socially conscious-minded friends read this...Just Around Midnight lays a terrific foundation for discussion. While I may have lost a little idealism for some of the music I love (read: checked my privilege), I am glad this book will get me to consider music more critically, and I look forward to seeking out more discussions similar to the ones presented here....more
OK, again, so not technically a book, but I am loving the Jeremy Siepmann music history lessons available on Hoopla. If you ever wanted to take a MusiOK, again, so not technically a book, but I am loving the Jeremy Siepmann music history lessons available on Hoopla. If you ever wanted to take a Music Appreciation class, you can save some money and listen to this instead. Siepmann covers traditional orchestral instruments and includes some "oddities" that have found their way into symphonic music. Of course, he can't cover everything, and his assessment as to the value of certain composers/compositions/instruments is at times quite stodgy (read: stereotypical old English dude), but overall these works are an absolute delight....more
When I started hearing buzz about this, I knew I definitely had to read it being the 60s music kid I am. I enjoy The Mamas and the Papas, but I've nevWhen I started hearing buzz about this, I knew I definitely had to read it being the 60s music kid I am. I enjoy The Mamas and the Papas, but I've never been in lovvvve with them or anything, so I wasn't holding the bar too high. But dang! I ended up really loving this!!! I don't think I looked into the dramarama of the M&Ps since watching their VH1 Behind the Music or something in the 90s, so I forget just how *much* dramarama there was. So apart from this being super juicy, it was also an excellent presentation of a talented, complicated woman fighting the haters over her weight, her attitude, and her persistence. I was hooked by the story early enough, but wasn't sold on the amateurish art until about halfway through when it started growing on me--it has that sort of crude feel that Lynda Barry has (the era being similar, too, to much of her work), and you know Lynda Barry is my everything. So win-win all around! Pardon me as I go listen to everything Cass Elliot......more
So not *technically* a book, but it's classified as such on Hoopla. THIS WAS SO FANTASTIC. Every audiobook on music should be structured like this--wiSo not *technically* a book, but it's classified as such on Hoopla. THIS WAS SO FANTASTIC. Every audiobook on music should be structured like this--with the music interspersed with the speaker. (I get why they're not...aside from copyright issues, the audio itself would be impossibly long.) I loved getting a concise biography of Chopin. I loved hearing his works, some of which I had not heard before. I am beside myself that there is a whole Life and Works series from Naxos. Rest assured I will be devouring it this year....more