First posted on Mark Is Cranky:
This must be literary hootenany week. Last night, just a few hours after that Hot Topic literary foolishness, I was sitting around flipping through the winter issue of the The Threepenny Review. My first thought, exactly the same as when I read the previous issue, was “Gee…Why the heck am I receiving this publication?” Turns out that TheWife got an ad card for it in the mail and signed me up. Fantastic. There are so many perks to being married to a fellow bookworm. (There are disavatages too…like lack of free and open wallspace due to bookcase dominance).
“Stories of a Bad Song” is a Greil Marcus essay that chronicles the lives of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”. The lives? The first was the initial, protest song, Freewheeling-era unveiling. The second was when Dylan brought the song back into his playlist in the 80’s followed by the bizarre performance at the 1991 Grammy Awards. The third was at a talent show at Boulder High School in 2004.
I’m going to talk about how meaning is generated in cultural work, over time; I’m going to talk about how it is that bad art, a bad song, can make its way through time so persistently that questions of good and bad may become absolutely moot. I’m going to talk about a very old song by Bob Dylan.
I’ve never really thought about the lives of particular songs, for me it’s mostly albums that count. Still, Marcus does point out (to me anyway) that sometimes pieces of music can grow beyond their humble (or not so) beginnings to encapsulate so much more. So when somebody slings around the word “nostalgia” as some kinda sneery verbal mud, they’re discounting the fact that this stuff means something to folks. It’s not just madly wiggling air molecules, it’s a part of life.Powered by Sidelines