by carl wilson

Getting With the Program

Hi, all. Sorry I've been silent this week - trying to plow some heavy-duty ground on the book, which is a lot more behind schedule than the sight of that page would suggest. It's at once inspiring and out-freaking. Speaking of which: Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, but it seemed like the biggest problem with Celine's appearance at the Oscars on Sunday wasn't her singing (save a few smushed vowels), but the rather dull song Morricone wrote for her to do. It was craftsmanlike and classic-sounding, but very scant on the imaginative sonic and genre blends for which he's so justly celebrated. The notion of "Oscar song" seems to put blinders on everyone. (For Celine, of course, it was part of a trajectory towards association with the critically respectable that I suspect will be in full effect on her next English-language album.) The embarrassment was Clint Eastwood's ill-prepared introduction; I think Eastwood's great, but that was just sloppy and disrespectful to Morricone, though it was redeemed by allowing him to give his thanks at length in Italian rather than forcing him to struggle through in weak English (which I assume he could have done). Otherwise, amusing to watch the competitive jostling between Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson on the overlong Dreamgirls medley, and a very fine turn by James Taylor on the Randy Newman song, which helps block the awful Randybashing that ensues whenever he does his kids-movie trifles on award shows.

A couple of substantive posts to come, but meanwhile just wanted to alert interested parties to the fact that the Experience Music Project Pop Conference program for 2007 has now been announced (look to the left for the link to "panels"), including my workshop session on Seeing Scenes: The Music Critic in Place. I'm excited about the discussion, which will involve me comparing some notes on my frankly problematic participant-observer status in "Torontopia" with other critics from other cities, to see how they experience the advocacy-vs-objectivity and local-vs-cosmopolitan "conflicts of interest," if conflicts they are. (And I'll also be using a format drawn directly from some other Torontopian culture, namely Darren O'Donnell's work, but more on that later.) I'm even more excited about the conference as a whole, from Jonathan Lethem's closely related keynote on participatory music culture, to the culture-vs-politics papers of Sasha Frere-Jones and Joshua Clover, Robert Bennett on jazz diplomacy to Daphne Carr on the retail origins of mall punk, to a paper about one of the church anthems of my youth, to Christgau's lost 2007 Pazz & Jop essay, to the prehistory of hip-hop, to Woody Guthrie's (anti)-environmentalism (being discussed by my old friend Carl Zimring, a rockin' history prof making his EMP debut), to what Joanna Newsom was like in Grade 3 and other puzzles of the new folk music, to the mystery of Sade and a final-day plenary on (scroll down) whether music criticism has a future. And a whole lot of other brain-teasing shit that will make us all wish we could be three places at once. I'll do my best to report it all here on Zoilus, but if you can be in Seattle from April 19-22, think about it - it's all free to the public this year, and it's basically the best music magazine in the world, performed live.

| Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, February 27 at 3:50 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)



Now, boys, play nice.

Also: The jokes about music-as-torture-device are kind of hard to take. I'll post about why, I think, tomorrow.

Posted by zoilus on February 28, 2007 11:38 PM



Phil, seriously, someone could write a book about comments like yours! "Disrespectful" -- pah!

Eastwood blew it. He forgot his glasses. Blowing it is blowing it. Regardless of your opinion of her, Celine did her job.

Oh, and, last I read (which was a few years ago), metal was the preferred music of psychological torturers. Divas and power ballads are global pop.

Posted by john on February 28, 2007 6:38 PM



Take it easy on Dirty Harry, he clearly couldn't read the prompter. A problem of aging and senility. Besides, I'm sure he led the surge to get senor Morricone his lifetime achievement award. I was kind of impressed with his translation, actually. It was nearly perfect, which is more than I can say for Pan's Labyrinth. If you ask me, the way Celine sang that song was kind of disrespectful, but hey...I'm not looking to get into your book. I can't think of any reason to purchase her recorded work, unless I get a job working in Gitmo for the U.S. State Department, in which case I'd definitely be forcing enemies of the state to sit through one of her Las Vegas shows on DVD. I'd probably have a hold of Osama by now...

Posted by Phil on February 28, 2007 5:42 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson