As I will be returning to the Bay area this April here are a few word highlights from my most recent collection of essays 'Critics Who Know Jack (Urban Myths, Media and Rock and Roll)', along with a photo or two: JM
Hope to see you at Bird and Beckett Books and Records for a reading and musical performance on April 8th, 2018 – 2pm – 653 Chenery Street – in San Francisco's Glen Park.
From the Essay 'Bad Pop Songs'
Re: Bobby Darin's interpretation of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's 'Mack the Knife'.
'Darin completely guts the song's socio-political nuance and meaning to mere shank, though Vegas itself was built by an underclass from New York and New Jersey. The underclass of Italian and Jewish American 20th century mobsterism. And in truth, Brecht was fascinated by the American Mobster and corruption by capitalist enterprise. Yet he did not celebrate it as a way to be. His play 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui', in which metaphoric character associations are made between Hitler's Reich and Chicago's 1930s gangsterism, is one of the great social condemnations of greed in modern theater. However, none of this information seems to have informed Darin. There is no satire nor irony in Darin's adaptation. There is an aspect of 'send up' yet more to be admired than repulsed. All joy and the oily and greasy feel of Rat-packy-ism.'
From the Essay 'Critics Who Know Jack (Some Words on Rock and Roll Poetry)'
Speaking of early Rock Criticism and the highly literate and literary skills of young rock journalists.
'These young critics actually understood that when Ray Davies led The Kinks with his song 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion', with the words 'They seek him here, they seek him there...' he was pulling a reference out from 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' published in 1905, written by transplanted Hungarian Baroness Emma Orczy, about a dandy highwayman-ish fop who masked himself in dual identity. They knew there was a lineage being formed from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman to Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg and The Beats to Robert Bobby Zimmerman Dylan.'
From the Essay 'Lyric Interpretation (With No Help from My Friends)'
Speaking to the phenomena of interpreting lyrics....and theIr actual content often disguised by hypnotic
and inviting music and rhythm...
'Songs mean something sometimes. And sometimes they don't. Sometimes people want to burn down palaces. All signs of a 'normal' world. Or, better put, the world we have. And yes, before I segue out – what was that kid's song 'One -Two – Three O'Leary all about? Who was O'Leary? I don't know. Maybe an Irish Republican Army captain? If so, I am gathering O'Leary was Green. Doesn't sound very Orange to my ear.'
Please join me for a reading of some of these and other excerpts, along with a musical performance for one and all. $10. suggestion donation.
Copies of 'Critics Who Know Jack' will be available at the store on the day of the performance.
For more information on Joseph Maviglia