Fragmented thoughts on rock, reading and other delights.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Let's hear it for the Sound Strike. Leave it to Zack de la Rocha to spearhead a movement among musicians to boycott the state of Arizona, in protest of the state's horribly oppressive and patently racist new immigration law. Some interesting folks have signed on to the protest. Pitchfork, in their story on the boycott, name checks a good list of rap and indie rock luminaries (Kanye West, Sonic Youth, Conor Oberst) but I think it's really important to note that they're joined by Spanish language groups like Los Tigres del Norte and Cafe Tacuba. And, a big shout out to Joe Satriani, one not-so-indie rocker (at least not in his preferred style) who's willing to align himself with the movement.
Below is a link to the Sound Strike site. It has a petition on it addressed to President Obama, for which they're hoping to get 100,000 signatures.
Completely unrelated postscript: I'm watching the finale of American Idol right now, and swear that the producers have been watching too much Yacht Rock (do people know yacht rock? completely awesome video series; look for it on YouTube). Seriously, the musical guests so far have included Michael McDonald, Hall and Oates and the Bee Gees and the arrangements are about as warmed over as could be. Why am I surprised? Yet somehow I'm not amused.
A spate of recent music videos, all by female artists, is apparently stirring a bit of controversy. I wasn't especially aware of the controversy until a reporter for the daily Metro newspaper contacted me for an interview. After watching all the videos I was more impressed by some than others, but one in particular left a strong impression: MIA's new video for her song, "Born Free." It's pretty great in my opinion, but also designed to shock. Some of the violence is surprisingly graphic so those especially sensitive to such things beware but I think this is definitely worth watching: http://vimeo.com/11219730
You can read my observations about this and the other videos (by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, and Christina Aguilera) by following this link, to the Metro news story by Pat Healy. I don't especially like the title of the story (unnecessary reference to bad softcore porn), but I do rather like the way he plays my comments off of those of a "marketing strategist," makes for an interesting quasi-dialogue.
Who Shot Rock & Roll? That question is the title for an exhibit of rock photography that is currently showing at the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA, after having started life at the Brooklyn Museum. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 9), I'll be leading a guided walking tour through the exhibit, offering insights on the way that photography allows us to trace a particular sort of visual history of rock, and how it allows us to reflect on the status of rock performers as public icons, on the one hand, and private individuals on the other (but whose privacy is something we want to peer into precisely because of their public stature). There are some great photos and great photographers on view in the exhibit. Here are four:
Bob Dylan on the streets of Liverpool, 1966, by Barry Feinstein
Fans outside Buckingham Palace fighting for a glimpse of the Beatles, 1965, by Central Press Ltd.
The Ramones at Eric's Club in Liverpool, 1977, by Ian Dickson.
Kurt Cobain at the Motor Sports International Garage, Seattle, 1990, by Ian Tilton.
Here's a link to info about the exhibit, and my tour tomorrow, which starts at 2 pm:
Axman is Steve Waksman, a professor of music and American Studies at Smith College, author of Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience and a new book on heavy metal and punk.