The Week In Music: What To Read Now, Prince Edition
Need something to distract you from politics news? Yeah, us too. So here you go: behind the scenes with intense, high-achieving, middle-aged men; a list of ways the common man is being screwed over by big industry; Springsteen and fact-checking our present understanding of the past. Oh, sorry. Maybe lean back with this video of a British radio legend extolling the virtues of Biggie's "One More Chance" instead.
Hang in there.
Oh, to live inside a sentence by David Carr. Describing a recent Neil Young & Crazy Horse set at the Outside Lands festival, he writes, "Seeing them play was like watching an ancient steam shovel unfurl, claw the night air and dig in." Speak it out loud and it sings like a Kenneth Patchen poem, close your eyes, and you see the savage beauty of a George Bellows painting. But beyond my fascination with that particular sentence, Carr takes the opportunity of a new Neil Young autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace, to profile a changed man, a sober man, for the New York Times. Like the trail to Young's Santa Cruz Mountain home, Carr winds through Shakey's uncompromising history like that transportive 20-minute version of "Down by the River" you never want to end. --Lars Gotrich
In his recent epic profile of Bruce Springsteen, New Yorker editor David Remnick suggested that the force that drives the Boss' best songs is a troubled relationship with his father. Now in the brand new music section on Buzzfeed, Sady Doyle writes with heartbreaking frankness about how Springsteen became a totem for her estrangement from her own father, and then how, years later, listening to Darkness on the Edge of Town finally helped her understand the terms of that distance. --Jacob Ganz
For decades hip-hop has, with varying degrees of success, balanced its heartfelt love for its not so distant past with an appetite for the ever-changing present. Andrew Nosnitsky analyzes the nostalgia present in the music of up-and-coming young rappers Joey Bada$$ and SpaceGhostPurrp — Bada$$ regularly pulls influence from the music of New York's early '90s underground rap scene, and SpaceGhost looks to the signature sound of Memphis rap, exemplified by the Three 6 Mafia — ultimately tagging them "reasonably talented mimics" and dreaming of a day when the easy access to archives provided by the Internet would result in reissues of unheralded ancestors or at least new work made by musicians who "use their understanding of rap history as a reference point and not a blueprint." --Briana Younger
Sometimes profiles of big name musicians who act as their own music directors fall into the trap of overpraising the superstar for doing his or her job — hiring the musicians, rehearsing them, managing 20 people, imagining how the crowd will engage. Except for a drill sergeant reference, Greg Kot avoids it. He watches Prince, a meticulous professional grown enough to cop to his failings and handle tension with jokes, at work in Paisley Park preparing for three dates in Chicago this week. It's an easy read, fitting for this decade's Prince, who says here, "The world is so jagged, I like smooth waves." --Frannie Kelley
This week, James Taylor joined the growing list of artists filing suit against their major label in an attempt to secure a higher royalty rate from digital downloads. The paperwork submitted with the filing contains plenty of gossip from audits conducted by Taylor's lawyers surrounding his complicated financial relationship with Warner Bros. It only dates back to 2004, but the list of alleged wrongdoings touches on practically every format and distribution method from the past decade in the music business, from selling a greatest hits cassette compilation at an unauthorized budget price, to money owed from record clubs, to payouts never received from the Napster and Kazaa settlements. In total, his lawyers found underpayments totaling almost $1.7 million. It was not reported how many billable hours they charged. --Amy Schriefer