Few embody that tradition and majesty more than Lemnik. In addition to editing the weekly’s publications since 1998, he is also the host of the magazine’s weekly podcast and is a major contributor to the magazine’s political commentary and profiles. Remnick himself is a multi-talented genius who has done a ton of press on politicians, won a Pulitzer Prize for his book about the end of the Soviet Union, and published biographies of Muhammad Ali and Barack Obama. But his work also exhibits a quality that he suggests was, or at least was, a shortcoming of the venerable New Yorker of Shawn’s time: politeness.
Even when Remnick turns his unlimited word count, unlimited access, and world-conquering work ethic toward relatively unassuming subjects such as musicians, his coolness remains. The invariably long essays in his new book, Holding the Note: Profiles in Popular Music, are about Leonard Cohen, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and similar demigods: our Dedicated to pop culture politicians. “In any case,” Remnick writes in the introduction, “I met these artists late in my career.” SupportedSustain” is the driving force behind their performance.
Remnick’s musical essay provides a detailed close-up of the aging heroes. In some cases, such as Cohen’s profile in 2016, it was released just weeks before Cohen’s death. Because of their thematic legacy and the lack of opportunities to read lengthy features on particular pop musicians these days, they are journalistic affairs, and Remnick’s Rolodex is so packed that Dylan and Obama are two. You can ask for the following citations: However, as events progress, it gets a little more formal. Holding the Note is a silent music book, a curious fact considering the Shouters, Belters, bluesmen, poets and one Italian tenor Lemnick studies.
I understand that repetition is a risk in a collection like this, but that doesn’t make the pattern less noticeable. The title essay begins: “It’s a winter’s night in Chicago. Buddy Guy is sitting in Legend’s bar, a spacious blues shop on South Wabash Avenue.” profile It’s not the only one in this book. “It was a late winter night and Aretha Franklin was sitting backstage at the Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino in Ontario.” When I was filming Halm Scarum, and ‘Help Me! He had built a modest reputation in central Jersey. ”
At various points in an essay on Franklin, also published in 2016, the Queen of Soul is “generally recognized as the greatest singer in post-war popular music history” and “the greatest voice in popular music.” I know that it is praised as Columbia Records executive John Hammond, who originally signed her and Lemnic’s other subjects, has been referred to in separate articles as “aristocrats associated with the Vanderbilts” and “aristocrats of the Vanderbilts”.
These are the go-to riffs, so to speak, that any music writer can easily turn to. Even more disappointing is the monotonous depiction of Remnic. He interviewed The Beatles and thought, “McCartney struck me as an entertainer who was charming, insightful, eager to please, but also trying to set the story right.” Dylan’s recordings from 1963 to 1966 were described as “the great explosion of creativity of the 20th century”, as Franklin’s album Amazing Grace was “perhaps her most striking and essential recording”. one of. The only work here that doesn’t border on hagiography is about Keith Richards, whom Remnick compares to Grover Norquist for his aversion to paying taxes. But since the essay isn’t a profile, it’s a review of Richards’ autobiography, Life, Remnick didn’t risk pricking one of his fellows with a needle for this piece.
But even in that review, Remnick can’t help but remind readers that the Rolling Stones made “some of the most important pop music of their time.” Readers of Holding the Note, which is almost uniformly about baby-boom royalty, will find Let It Bleed great, Paul McCartney charming, or the blues. Do we need a reminder that Springsteen had a complicated relationship with his distant father? ?
The book’s furthest inclusion is a 2008 essay about DJ and academic Phil Sharp, whose long-running New York radio show is a daily ode to jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker. there were. In this essay Remnick follows the prototype of another kind of New Yorker, profiling a Manhattan folk hero who spent his life serving the obsessive. Lemnic prose is enlivened by osmosis. Remnick describes his work on his subject as “extremely earnest and detailed,” so Sharpe describes “the crazed Talmudic scholars who have decided that the laws of mankind lie not in ancient Babylonian territory but in other interpretations.” It often sounds like “Moose the Muche”.
The life of Sharpe (who died in 2021) was a far cry from that of Remnick’s more stately subjects. He lived in near-poverty, sacrificing relationships and perhaps health, to get Parker the attention her artistry demanded. Here Remnick made me feel more intimately about the charm, danger, and reward of creative work than his many anecdotes about people who have actually turned my life into art. Calmness is important, but music deserves careless attention.
John Ringan author “Everybody’s Song: The Story of Creedence Clearwater Revival” and “Hometown: Southern Towns, Country Legends, and the Last Days of Mountaintop Honky Tonks”
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