Michael Jackson and Cultural Relevance

Amid the 24-hour barrage of "news" about Michael Jackson's death last week, I tweeted, a bit tongue-in-cheek, this question: Is anybody besides me willing to argue that The A-Team was more culturally significant in the eighties than Michael Jackson? My friend Adam wondered whether I and other skeptics were minimizing Jackson's cultural impact, especially when… Continue reading Michael Jackson and Cultural Relevance

Long Live Rock: Elliott Smith

The Black Cat, Washington, D.C., September or October 1998 I've been doing this concert series on and off for two years now, and a chance encounter with a bootleg recording of Elliott Smith performing John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" at the Black Cat club cracked open a forgotten memory, a forgotten concert. In 1998 I saw… Continue reading Long Live Rock: Elliott Smith

Pop Apocalypse: Shearwater’s “Rooks”

I've always been obsessed with end-of-the-world scenarios, from the original 1968 Planet of the Apes to Cormac McCarthy's 2007 novel, The Road. I've tried to intellectualize my lifelong fascination, even teaching courses on Apocalyptic Literature. But no matter how many fancy words I use in my courses ("a posteriori apocalypticism," "stigmatized knowledge," "escalation ladder"), I… Continue reading Pop Apocalypse: Shearwater’s “Rooks”

Thoughts on Ben Folds’ “Still Fighting It”

My friend Adam over at Random Thoughts Escaping posted the Ben Folds' video of "Still Fighting It," along with some thoughts about fatherhood. I've always loved "Still Fighting It," which got heavy rotation on WXPN when the song came out. I'd never seen the video before. I found it quite touching, despite wanting to resist… Continue reading Thoughts on Ben Folds’ “Still Fighting It”

Long Live Rock: The Tragically Hip

Toledo Zoo Amphitheater, June 1996 The zoo is a crazy place for a rock concert, but for the Tragically Hip, this Depression-era amphitheater was perfect. And this was years before Gord Downie sang about Gus, the polar bear in Central Park (In Between Evolution, 2004). I like to think that the Toledo Zoo was his… Continue reading Long Live Rock: The Tragically Hip