Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Metal, Punk, and an Ambulance that Burns

A few months after my newer book came out - This Ain't the Summer of Love, for the uninitiated - in summer 2009, I got an email from a writer named Phil Freeman asking if he could interview me about the book for the Cleveland Scene, that city's alternative weekly. I was psyched, as it's not so often an academic author gets asked for an interview of this sort, and Freeman is an interesting writer, more about which below. But he said that he had to pitch the article to his editor before he could go ahead with it, and then I never heard from him, which I guess means his editor said no. Oh well, easy come, easy go, or so I thought.

A week or so ago, I was doing the periodic scan for new references to my work on Google that I do, and found something that looked unfamiliar. The source was largely inaccessible but it was a link to some pages from a fairly new music magazine called Burning Ambulance. And somewhere in the magazine, in some pages that I couldn't see in the preview, was a review of some recent books on metal and punk by none other than Phil Freeman, and my book was one of the five under review.

Of course, I had to buy it so I could read the review. And it's a cool piece. Freeman puts my book in conversation with four others: Joe Carducci's now-classic Rock and the Pop Narcotic and more recent tome, Enter Naomi - the latter of which I reviewed myself on this very blog - Daniel Ekeroth's Swedish Death Metal, and Precious Metal, a collection of pieces on great metal albums by the editors of Decibel magazine. Freeman compares my book favorably to all of the above, and makes an especially flattering comparison between my book and Carducci's classic. I don't want to post the whole review here because the magazine isn't accessible online and I think the authors and editors need the money, but I'll quote the relevant lines from the last paragraph of the review:

"In a way, Waksman’s book is an academic equivalent to Carducci’s. Fifteen years later, it’s possible to make a serious, scholarly inquiry into cultural conditions that were once the province of sputtering, rage-fueled outsiders. And perhaps the cogency of his argument that punk and metal had much more in common than many were willing to grant will overturn some received wisdom, and allow people to hear old records in new ways. That’s all you can really hope for when you’re toiling in the subcultural trenches—that someday, someone somewhere will get it."

Amen, brother. Apart from this being some of the coolest words anyone has written about my new book, I also just think it's nice that Freeman followed up on his earlier impulse to put his appreciation of my book into words even though his original pitch clearly didn't pan out. And, like I said above, he's definitely among the more intriguing music writers out there. Like me, his tastes seem to be split pretty evenly between heavy fucking metal and jazz of the avant-garde/experimental variety. He has a blog where he posts lots of reviews and other content and I encourage you to check it out.