Heroes and Villains

Heroes and Villains

Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture

eBook - 2009
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"Heroes and Villains is the first collection of essays by David Hajdu, the award-winning author of The Ten-Cent Plague, Positively 4th Street, and Lush Life. Eclectic and controversial, Hajdu's essays take on topics as varied as pop music, jazz, the avant-garde, comic books, and our downloading culture."--Jacket.
Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, 2009.
Edition: 1st Da Capo Press ed.
ISBN: 9780786745869
078674586X
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xii, 336 p.)
Contents: Foreword / by David Yaffe
B's world. Billy Eckstine: the man who was too hot
Whose standards? Mos Def and the American songbook ; Rodgers and Hart ; Sammy Davis, Jr.: two lives ; Anita O'Day ; Bobby Darin: Roman candle ; Susannah McCorkle
Blues and the abstract truth. A hundred years of blues ; Alan Lomax ; Dinah Washington: Queen ; Ray Charles
Growing up. Elvis Costello at fifty ; Brian Wilson and the lost masterpiece ; Sting the lutenist ; Joe Sacco and Daniel Clowes ; The White Stripes ; Abbey Lincoln and Mark Murphy ; Three women in pop: Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Lucinda Williams
Cultural machinery. The blogging of American pop ; MySpace ; The music of Starbucks ; Rick Rubin and Kanye West ; Open-source remixing
Life with the lions. Woody Guthrie: Ramblin' man ; Will Eisner ; Elvis and the Colonel ; Ken Burns and the great men of jazz ; John Lennon: The life ; Paul McCartney's Chaos and creation ; Joni Mitchell's Shine ; Wynton Marsalis
Otherwise engaged. Harry Partch ; Elmer Fudd ; Walt Whitman and Fred Hersch: the jazz Leaves of grass ; Michel Petrucciani ; Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen : The book of longing ; Jules Feiffer at the Village Voice ; John Zorn ; Josh Groban ; Marjane Satrapi.
Summary: "Heroes and Villains is the first collection of essays by David Hajdu, the award-winning author of The Ten-Cent Plague, Positively 4th Street, and Lush Life. Eclectic and controversial, Hajdu's essays take on topics as varied as pop music, jazz, the avant-garde, comic books, and our downloading culture."--Jacket.

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BertBailey
Dec 02, 2014

This is how writing about music should be: incisive, probing, critical yet sympathetic, appreciative, even laudatory about quality music. It's about as intelligent as you'd hope to get for discussions that range from Joni Mitchell to Lennon, MacCartney, both Elvises ...alongside Ellington, Monk and Bach. He's got a keen ear, and a way to get his penetrating thoughts across. For instance, how do you like this: "Willie Nelson... [always sounds] ...as if he were singing to himself in his car"? If anything, I found that Hadju could sometimes be too eclectic (never thought I'd say that about anyone!) After all, there's only so much I care to read about Taylor Swift or Beyonce, or about comic-book art, and his admiration for the likes of George Jones simply baffles me.
Also the journalist does come to the fore now and then, bullying his way with overstatement. I could not agree more that "Americas" is Paul Simon's most affecting song, no doubt since Bookends still stands to me S&G's masterpiece (and perhaps as it involved my first glass of wine and enrolment in what I then regarded as a form of bohemianism). It's a marvellous song with vivid, poetic moments, and has stood the test of time. But Hajdu blows it by depicting Simon as culturally "arrogant", guilty of "noble-savage voyeurism" and calls some of his work "slick Grammy-mongering" without backing up his case--and just how could he support that presumable slur? The case he makes of Paul Simon, musical predator, in short, is way overcooked.
Even so, most of this is provocative when it's not outright insightful, so it's strongly recommended.

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