Friday, December 04, 2009

Dancing About Architecture

"Bob Dylan has been making records for 48 years, and deeply disappointing people for the last 44 of them" -- Chris Willman. Prajer's is the place to confess: did you buy Bob Dylan's Christmas album? I have not -- yet. What did you think? I have to admit, Willman is the first pundit to pique my curiosity. Stay tuned.

Am I listing yet? Ye cats! It's the end of the decade that began the third millennium. Surely I have a top ten list of . . . something, if only of moments that persuaded me the zeitgeist was blowing in a direction alien to my comprehension -- no? We shall see. In the meantime, everyone else has a top ten list of movies and albums, including, especially, the beleaguered Paste magazine. Pick it up at the newsstand, then hurry home and pour yourself a healthy dram. Take a sip every time you utter an expletive. If you refill your glass after reading the table of contents, alternate with water.

Could we designate 2010 as the year we stopped using Tom Waits as the final comparison? 2009 was the year the bastard sons of Greil Marcus universally abandoned "Dylanesque" as an adjective. (See what happens when you cut a Christmas album?) Now Tom Waits is the be-all and end-all. Here is just one peeving example, courtesy of Nate Chinen via the NYT: "Mr. [Joe] Henry wants to suggest a less phlegmatic Tom Waits." And who does Mr. Waits want to suggest? Speaking as a listener who enjoys Waits as much as he enjoys Dylan (and neither so much as he enjoys Henry) let me be the first to say, "Knock it off." Lift your head a little higher, and see if you can't find a few additional stars to steer by, why don't you?


su said...

But I have only just discovered Tom Waits in the last year or so... I have his list of CDs on my bulletin board, so as to check them off one by one as I buy them. I am a FAN big time!

Whisky Prajer said...

Su - I rather envy you, because I couldn't imagine a better time to discover Mr. Waits. There is a lot of material to browse through and it is all interesting stuff. But my kvetch is still with music critics. There was a time when everyone, according to these guys, sounded a little like Dylan. If you read the same sorts of opinionators you could be forgiven for thinking everyone is trying to sound like Waits. All I'm saying is (A) it ain't necessarily so, and (B) even Mr. Waits has taken a few leads from someone else.

DarkoV said...

I'm not a huge fan of Dylan's; still think "Blood on the Tracks" is his best album. As a character I find him quite interesting...but I've always had a problem with his voice, a nag to listen to.
So, let me know how you care for his Christmas album; I won't be party to that purchase.

As to Mr. Waits (and his latest output, the live recordings of some of last year's concerts), I'm an addict; he's the drug of choice. Would I suggest the album to anyone but a Waits-nut? No way.

..but as "stars to steer by"...well WP, when these two stars shine so bright that they dim all the others, it's hard to come up with a comparative, especially one (well, two in this case) that carries over well over som many generations. I'm sure Waits is bothered by all of this; the only solution is that he starts dimming his light so that critics can scurry off in search of a brighter bulb.

Whisky Prajer said...

I hope Mr. Waits burns this brightly for as long as he can. In fact, is it evil of me to say I kinda miss the extremely productive, pre-AA Tom Waits of the 90s? Never mind the albums (which I loved): he could ham it up for Coppola, tone it down for Altman, and cut and paste his own concert movie ... I loved it all. But even in sobriety he can be difficult to keep up with. Were he to disappear without a trace right now, there'd be no denying just how far he planted the flag on the beach: no-one else is likely to reach it soon.

I guess I'm just ticked at the NYT review of Henry -- it seems lazy to reach for Waits when Henry associates not just with Waits' former guitarist, but with ancient jazz performers who, if pressed, might sigh and suggest other worthy influences behind not just Henry's ethereal rhapsodizing, but Waits' as well.

DarkoV said...

Re. Mr. Henry,
Amen, Brother. You write it well.