by carl wilson

It's Oh So Quiet

Mark says wisely: "It's not all that useful to indict songwriters when its their mode that you're alienated from."

And then maybe a bit-less-wisely: "Given that the fine art of rock lyricism is in some ways more limited than that of Haiku-writing, is it so completely batshit to suggest that, as a form, it might not be exempt from the law of diminishing returns?"

Maybe it wouldn't be if your given was actually a given, but in what way is a form that takes in all the people whose names we were batting around over the weekend - plus, oh, Captain Beefheart and Chuck Berry - more limited than a 17-syllable observational lyric? The fact that even haiku can be renewed is actually a counterdemonstration that a dry spell doesn't equal desertificiation. And lyrically, rock has covered so much territory in the past half-century that saying it is played out is like saying that songwriting itself is played out. It ain't the form it's the culture. If rock, mostly, especially mainstream rock, hasn't much new to say, it's not because it's all been said already but because the people with new to say aren't inclined to use rock (or jazz or folk) to say it.

There's no purchase in arguing that hip-hop lyrics are inherently any more or less limited than rock ones. It's just that hip-hop is feeling fresher as a mode now. Though I don't think she's The One, what Nellie McKay demonstrates is that totally unexpected crosspollinations of hip-hop, rock and other pop forms are not only possible, they are inevitable. Don't go all Fukuyama on hip-hop; it's not the End of History.

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Monday, August 23 at 02:26 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)



well said.

re: nellie. i've always been fond of this bit:

I wanna partake in bake sales for the classroom
I wanna hear the sweet tune
of Sally’s little vroom-vroom
as she zooms around my broom
as I exhume the gloom
of my shallow life

Posted by agw on August 23, 2004 03:03 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson