Rick Moody Is Blogging About Music. Get Nervous.

The Rumpus, a new-ish blog created by industrious Bay Area novelist and essayist Stephen Elliott, has tapped Rick Moody to blog on a regular basis about…music. This is a little troubling, because to the best of my recollection Moody’s last piece of sustained music writing was a tedious, humid paean to Sleater-Kinney that somehow turned into the official bio for the band’s final album, The Woods. I mean, c’mon:

Now, before us, we have The Woods, which appears in the Sleater-Kinney catalogue as opus number seven, and like many things with sevens on it, it features an itch, a need to try new things.

Was it a parody of the written liner notes that appear on the backs of Z-grade jazz albums in the dollar bin? It was awfully hard to tell, if so. Moody’s first blog entry doesn’t seem quite so bad. But he is playing the same old, tired, “the album is dead” card that so many music bloggers do, and he suggests (threatens?) that his thoughts will have larger implications for the radio and publishing industries too:

The methodology is completely democratic and wide open, therefore, and the style is going to be my actual style, which is to say all tangled and slightly incoherent as written at 8:00 AM on a Saturday morning (like this post) before I’ve even had a cup of tea. The lessons I’m imagining to find are lessons that are not confined to music making, but ones that might have implications for rear guard industries like book publishing or, at another extreme, radio (where I also occasionally ply my hand).

6 responses to “Rick Moody Is Blogging About Music. Get Nervous.

  1. Mark, you’re free to dislike my music writing, natch, but it’s fair to say that you are obviously reading too many books and not enough periodical literature. This I applaud, frankly, but let me set the record straight. Post-dating the S-K press release (which was a sin of commission, if one that I stand by) have been any number of much longer music pieces, including, for example, a piece about the Pogues (CONJUNCTIONS), a piece for the Danielson “greatest hits” package, a piece last Xmas for Sufjan Stevens’s box set, a piece on the concept of “heavenly” music (included in this year’s BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS volume), and not one but two pieces in the most recent BELIEVER music issue. And that’s just off the top of my head. The best of your knowledge on the subject, ergo, means not very much knowledge at all. You may do penance, before teeing off on me again with your I’m-way-smarter adolescences, with a couple of suggestions of unsigned or self-released bands for me to look into in the Rumpus blog, if, that is, you would rather contribute than sit up there in your lonely crag.

  2. Rick,

    Thanks for the comment. I trust you didn’t take anything I wrote here in my lonely crag as a blanket dismissal of your work—I wouldn’t presume to be smarter than somebody who’s written a very fine book like “Purple America.” But that Sleater-Kinney bio simply wasn’t your finest hour.

    In any event, thank you for clarifying the extent of your recent music writing. As for suggestions and recommendations, you may be pleased to hear that I’m currently in the midst of corralling just such information for Washington City Paper’s annual music issue, which will be online shortly before Christmas. In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that a City Paper writer, Jason Cherkis, wrote one of the more thorough critiques of your Sleater-Kinney essay a few years back (http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/special/artcover070805.html), though it was published before I had any interaction with Cherkis or the paper.

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  4. I greatly enjoy your blog, which I newly discovered last week or so. Gotta say I don’t understand Moody-snark in it’s various manifestations. Seems like an interesting guy following his passions.

  5. I actually sort of enjoy Moody’s writing about music. Not as much as I enjoy his novels, but still…

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