Writing-about-music is what I do, much of the time, especially when I need to make money and opportunities for playing music are slim, but it is a strange thing and rarely successful, except as a way for musicians and other overeducated liberal arts majors to make money. I hate to use the old “dancing about architecture” cliché, but it is, like many cliché’s, apt. Or rather perhaps, “dancing badly about architecture” is more appropriate. Because those people who do actually attempt to write about music--as opposed to those who manufacture writing-about-oneself-in-relation-to music or writing-about-the-lives-of-celebrity/musicians or writing-about-the-effect-of-a-celebrity/musician-and-his-activities-both-public-and-private-on-a-particular-social-aggregate, which is, of course, what most writing-about-music is or has become, at least, pop-culture-writing-about-music--will never really succeed. Writing-about-music will never convey or capture anything that music does; reading writing-about-music will never be more worth your time than listening to or playing music. Which may be why writers-who-write-about-music are probably better off not knowing much about music.
This pedantically begun screed is written in response to the receipt of a recent collection of music writing, published in book form by a music magazine that has recently succumbed to market pressures and “gone under,” surfacing a handful of months later as a website and book-a-zine (their word not mine). I would have normally have ignored such a book, but I was a sometime fan of this unnamed magazine, and was curious about its evolution. Not only that, but some of my friends were featured both on the cover and inside. I quickly grew despondent, however, as I scanned some of the articles, as I realized that none of this, though technically well-written, even approached the music that these people made, and inspiring me to attempt this even more ludicrous project: writing-about-writing-about-music.
--to be continued