Tag Archives: bob dylan

Link Party: 3/20-3/24

A slice of my bulletin board.

 

This week I got promoted (!) and spent much of my work time planning a few projects that are not only going to make a positive difference in many students’ experiences, but make me feel more creatively fulfilled than ever before. I know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Here’s what I’ve ready lately:

1. A new Q&A with Bob Dylan.

2. A timeline of millennial pink. (I painted my room the perfect shade of blush [evidence above] and I have zero regrets.)

3. The gig economy celebrates working yourself to death.

4. William Finnegan on the sounds of surfing. (Barbarian Days was one of my favorite reads in 2016.)

5. Women, politics and Vogue.

And two bonuses: The office supply version of “Bad and Boujee,” and this absolutely delightful video of a French bulldog that just wants to go for a swim.

Talk to you later.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Link Party

Link Party: 12/5-12/9

It's Christmastime.

It’s Christmastime.

Here’s what I’ve read lately:

1. These stories about Prince are incredible.

2. Rei Kawakubo and the impossible task of her Met retrospective.

3. Dinner with the guy who revolutionized the science of cooking.

4. If you live in California, you should know the names of these political leaders.

5. 2016 is the year of playing ourselves.

And two bonuses: Patti Smith singing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at the Nobel Prize ceremony, and I backed the Internet Review of 2016 on Kickstarter and you should too.

Have a fantastic week. I’m rooting for you.

1 Comment

Filed under Link Party

Tune Time: October & November 2016

Here’s what I’ve been listening to for the past two months:

Bon Iver’s 22, A Million.

1. I was an extremely casual fan of Bon Iver before 22, A Million came out, but the YouTube lyric videos pulled me in. I knew enough about Justin Vernon to know that his music swirls in the indie folk genre, and that Kanye West is a big, big fan.

2. When this album first came out, there were people on my assorted timelines who were upset about it — it didn’t sound like old Bon Iver, and it was too weird to be wistful about. First of all, artists are allowed to experiment and grow just like the rest of us. Second of all, it takes a few minutes to actually listen to the record and reflect. You’ll find that he’s working with the same variations on the theme of loss — like the dissolution of a relationship, an identity crisis — and adding new sonic elements suggests an even more violent break from the past. I much prefer 22, A Million to the earlier Bon Iver albums, because it seems far more urgent, visceral and profound. This is what I love about music — that artists can evolve and make something new and exciting.

3. This album gives me both Walden Pond and Blade Runner vibes, with a little bit of a My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy influence.

4. Vernon is an exceptional lyricist, and I like that the lyrics of this album are steeped in biblical imagery. One of my favorite lines is from “715 – CR∑∑KS”: “Honey, understand that I have been left here in the reeds / But all I’m trying to do is get my feet out from the crease.”

5. I love the stylized song names, and also the use of the OP-1. My favorite songs are “22 (OVER S∞∞N)”, “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄” and “33 ‘GOD’.” I hope that Vernon has more to explore in this vein, and that there are some cut tracks floating around somewhere.

Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo.

1. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to sit down and write something about Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, and I always come up short or turn my attention to something else. I went to a Saint Pablo tour concert in October — which was incredible and magical — and I thought that with the amount of time I’ve spent listening to this album that I finally needed to get some words out about it. The first ones are that it is not a perfect album, but it’s still a masterpiece.When people on the Internet say that this isn’t a “good” Kanye West album, I know that they didn’t really listen. (I know there’s been a lot about Kanye the celebrity in the media lately, and I hope he’s doing okay.)

2. For my senior capstone project, I wrote an essay about Yeezus. I argued that the album was his ontological exploration of being a producer of music while also being a product as a celebrity, meaning that he makes art at the same time the public is shaping a persona and perceptions about who “Kanye West” is. After listening to and dissecting The Life of Pablo, I think that argument still holds up extremely well. This album is an extension of his Yeezus meditations, and even more so one on his public persona. The questions he asks himself on this album are “Who is Kanye West?”, and “Can I separate a private sense of self from the public sense of self I’ve created and the world has created for me?”

3. Let’s talk about “No More Parties in LA,” for example. Kanye talks about spending all of his money at Louis Vuitton, matted-out sportscars and buying pink furs for his daughter — and how that’s supposed to inherently mean something important, that the money signifies status and getting on Kanye’s level is unattainable. But the hook is “no more parties in LA, please baby no more parties in LA,” suggesting that he doesn’t want to be around people who subscribe to this hollow lifestyle. When you couple that with the lyrics that suggest he’s just trying to be an artist (“I feel like Pablo when I’m workin on my shoes” and his borderline-paranoid lines about driving around in an armored car), there’s this murkiness he can’t seem to clear up. Does he want to have that wealth and fame, or was it this huge stunt that he can’t get out of without sacrificing the level of exposure his art has? Or is he just playing with the image of what the public thinks Kanye West is? These are the questions I ask myself with every listen.

4. Rap music will never fail to be fascinating to me, with the incredible artistry of wordplay and how each line is dense with at least two or three levels of references and callbacks. It is poetry.

5. The opening of “Father Stretch My Hands, Part 1” is what dreams are made of, and you have not lived until you’ve witnessed the transition from “I Love Kanye” to “Waves” in a stadium with your friends and 17,000 other people. “Ultralight Beam” is one of the most affecting songs I’ve heard in a long time. If you have not listened to this album, you need to before the year is over.

Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited

1. 2016 has been my year of Bob Dylan discovery, and I have really enjoyed digging into this part of American musical history at this particular cultural moment. It’s been cool to listen to the music and read the interviews that were published at the time and oral histories, and I’ve been trying to better understand just how seismic this music was. Anyway, shout out to Jeff Bezos and Amazon Prime music for having most of Dylan’s discography on demand for free. So far, my three favorite albums are Bringing It All Back Home, Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited.

2. Before we go any further, we should probably talk about his Nobel Prize. Do I think he deserves it, based on his literary contributions? I do. Do I also think there are a lot of other people who maybe deserved the Nobel Prize for literature a little more? Absolutely. That is the extent of my opinion on Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize.

3. I love singing along with “But you’d better take your diamond ring, you better pawn it, babe” in “Like a Rolling Stone.” What a great metaphor in a song about security and materialism.

4. It would be beyond awesome to do a road trip of Route 61 while listening to this album. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has had that idea, and I doubt I will be the last.

5. My favorite tracks are “Tombstone Blues,” “Ballad Of A Thin Man” and “Highway 61 Revisited,” but any of the tracks from the three albums I mentioned are great starting points for getting into Dylan.

What have you been listening to lately? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tune Time

Link Party: 10/17-10/21

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. Bob Dylan’s first interview with Rolling Stone.

2. How Hillary became Hillary.

3. The ever-shifting symbolism of lace.

4. The weird economics of Ikea.

5. Bill Cunningham‘s memorial.

And a bonus: I’m not planning on dressing up for Halloween this year, but if I was this would be my costume.

Have a great week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Link Party

Tune Time: May 2016

Here’s what I’ve been listening to lately:

Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home.

I realized recently that I don’t listen to a lot of Bob Dylan, and that I needed to fix that to keep my rock cred. I decided to start with Bringing It All Back Home, his fifth album. This is best known as the album where Dylan made a move to electric rock and roll, which was divisive at the time. On a side note, if you stumble across older music, I highly recommend reading about its history and what people thought about it at the time it was released. It’ll inform your contemporary understanding and help you to trace its cultural importance.

What I love most about this album is its exploration of bohemia, for all of its good and bad aspects. Songs like “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” are steeped in the political lyrics that Dylan is known for, which is reminiscent of what we’re going through today re: the 2016 election.( I can’t think of one artist who’s channeling Dylan today for the same purpose.) For the most part, he shines light on hippie shortcomings and tries to create some distance from the folk movement he’s so closely associated with. I’m still trying to decipher the enigmatic lyrics and what they could mean, and that’s how I know I’ve stumbled across a great album.

It’s hard to pick my favorite tracks, but I especially dig “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Now that I’m wading in the Dylan pond, I’m excited to see what I discover next.

The Strokes’ Future Present Past

Since high school, The Strokes have been one of my favorite bands. I was beyond excited when Future Present Past dropped out of the blue on Thursday morning, so much so that I impulse-bought the vinyl and didn’t care about the shipping cost. That’s how you know it’s real.

So much of The Strokes’ music focuses on the recurring themes of growing up, with the energy that only youth can harness. I think this is summed up so brilliantly in “Hard to Explain” from Is This It?: “I missed the last bus / I’ll take the next train / I’ll try, but you see / It’s hard to explain.”  You try and you try and you try, but you can never feel like you can get everything right — which breeds feeling of existentialism, debates of right and wrong, and of course, star-crossed love. From that first incredible record all the way to this three-song and bonus remix EP, the Strokes have tried to navigate these feelings. “Oblivius” picks that back up: the repetition of “What side are you standing on?” suggests a conflict on both personal and political levels, something frontman Julian Casablancas explores deeply in his solo work. Anyone who has ever been a young adult can find some resonance in the Strokes’ lyrics, and as someone who is on the precipice of Real Adulthood the Strokes are more important to me than ever.

My favorite song is “Threat of Joy,” because it sounds like quintessential Strokes from the riffs to the lyrics: “I cannot wait to chase it all / Yeah, I saw it in my crystal ball.” I cannot wait to see what else they unveil. Viva la Strokes.

Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City

A couple of weeks ago, Ezra Koenig played “Step” on his radio show, which made me realize that I hadn’t listened to the entirety of Modern Vampires of the City in a really long time. This album came out while I was still in college, and I spent a lot of time walking across campus and studying with it in my ears. I didn’t expect to be hit with so many waves of nostalgia when I replayed it this month, which I think mostly stems from the fact that I am back on campus but no longer a student.

Modern Vampires of the City is a dense album that deals with ontological themes of mortality, religion and time in a masterful way. If you trace the tracks as one narrative, you can see that the narrator is attempting to seek out deeper truths about who he is and his place in the world, and rebelling against what society is telling him to believe and accept. But these beliefs are also very contradictory, which makes it so wonderfully relatable. One of my favorite lyrics of all time comes from “Unbelievers,” where the narrator is simultaneously trying to work out some heavy romantic and religious stuff:

Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?
I know I love you, and you love the sea
But what holy water contains a little drop, little drop for me?

Later in the album on “Ya Hey,” which deals almost exclusively in Christian allusions, the narrator is extremely critical of God and faith in something that seems so removed, despite wanting that for himself earlier:

Through the fire and through the flames
You won’t even say your name
Only “I am that I am”
But who could ever live that way?

There’s a lot of other examples throughout Modern Vampires of the City that could fill a whole book about this album’s cultural relevance. What I love most about it is that Modern Vampires of the City reminds me that I’m not alone in trying to figure out the deeper purpose of my life in relation to bigger cultural mores. Ezra Koenig is one of my favorite musicians that I find a kinship in. My favorite tracks are “Unbelievers,” “Step,” “Hannah Hunt” (The beat drop at 2:31 is better than most beat drops in all of music),  “Ya Hey” and “Young Lion.” Rediscovering this album now has solidified it as one of my favorites, and I’m looking forward to rediscovering it over and over again.

Drake’s Views

In general, I thought Drake’s Views was a huge disappointment. It’s about 10 tracks too long. It doesn’t have as many bangers as If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. The album version of “Pop Style” doesn’t have the Throne feature. And to top it all off, Future is a track-ruiner. It was so hyped and overdue that Views could never have been as good as everyone thought it was going to be.

I’m also not really interested in Drake’s lyrics — even though I love the bravado and one-liners that IYRTITL perfected, I don’t care for angry-that-a-woman-slighted-him Drake, which is a pervasive theme on Views. The narrative of “Hotline Bling,” for example, is really about Drake being upset that his ex is out living her best life without him. From my point of view, it’s really none of his business. This lyrical content is old, and doesn’t do anything to help Drake grow as an artist.

With all that being said, the Jamaican dancehall tracks are the best part of Views and the songs I think will have the most longevity in the pop culture sphere. These tracks are “With You,” “Controlla,” “One Dance” and “Hotline Bling.” Drake and Noah Shebib, his record producer, have picked up some samples that scream eternal summer vibes. Even though the lyrics are horrible, the beats are infectious and examples of good producing. I will probably end up playing them all summer as part of my driving-around playlist, and I will definitely forget that the rest of Views exists.

What have you been listening to lately? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Tune Time

Link Party: 2/29-3/5

Flowers forever.

Flowers forever.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. This is a fascinating story about the history of the Kate Spade brand and its mythos.

2. Trader Joe‘s rejection of social media.

3. Email newsletters are the new zines.

4. Let’s talk about the Amazon Dash buttons, and what they mean for us as consumers.

5. Bob Dylan’s secret archive sounds wonderful. Time to take a road trip to Oklahoma.

A bonus article: Kanye West’s life, told in his own lyrics.

And the standard bonus: The Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias,” which is a song I’ve always liked and have recently rediscovered one of its lyrics: “Once in awhile you get shown the light / in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”

Have a great weekend.

Leave a comment

Filed under Link Party