Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Review: 33 1/3 Greatest Hits, Volume 1


I finished this off this morning, despite the pounding of construction machinery from the terrible parking garage going up on the corner. This is a good sampling of the first 20 books in the series, and probably a better way to choose which of these are worthy to hunt down than scrolling through endless blurbs on the internet.

I'll be looking for Warren Zanes' Dusty in Memphis, which appears to be about the author's process of writing the book as well as about the album. The Douglas Wolk excerpt on Live at the Apollo takes us through the details while providing an account of the parallel events of the Cuban missile crisis. Elisabeth Vincentelli's Dancing Queen asks the interesting question of how a "greatest hits" album becomes the defining release in a band's career. I was even intrigued by the entries on Exile on Main Street and Ramones, neither of which are about bands that I care much about.

I'll be avoiding the whiny Meat is Murder by Joe Pernice. The entire excerpt goes on and on about being a high school kid trying to be hip and lusting after girls who don't appear to be interesting at all.

Which brings me to a problem I have with a lot of pop music writing in general (even Bill Janovitz falls into this trap in his Exile piece): people really DO seem to think of their childhood as the best years of their life. Which just makes me sad. As Lynda Barry has pointed out, children draw (and play) all the time, and at some point adults just stop. The fact that people are trying to write about the music they loved as kids is a good start, but none of the nostalgic authors seem to realize the irony of performing a creative exercise while complaining that their adult lives don't have any of the rebellion or joy they experienced as young listeners. Get on out there and dance, people!

excerpt from "One Hundred Demons" (Salon)

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