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The grammar of rock : art and artlessess in…
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The grammar of rock : art and artlessess in 20th century pop lyrics (edició 2013)

de Alexander Theroux

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National Book Award nominee, critic and one of America's least compromising satirists, Alexander Theroux takes a comprehensive look at the colorful language of pop lyrics and the realm of rock music in general in The Grammar of Rock: silly song titles; maddening instrumentals; shrieking divas; clunker lines; the worst (and best) songs ever written; geniuses of the art; movie stars who should never have raised their voice in song but who were too shameless to refuse a mic; and the excesses of awful Christmas recordings. Praising (and critiquing) the gems of lyricists both highbrow and low, Theroux does due reverence to classic word-masters like Ira Gershwin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Cole Porter, and Sammy Cahn, lyricists as diverse as Hank Williams, Buck Ram, the Moody Blues, and Randy Newman, Dylan and the Beatles, of course, and more outre ones like the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Patti Smith, the Fall (even Ghostface Killah), but he considers stupid rhymes, as well--nonsense lyrics, chop logic, the uses and abuses of irony, country music macho, verbal howlers, how voices sound alike and why, and much more. In a way that no one else has ever done, with his usual encyclopedic insights into the state of the modern lyric, Theroux focuses on the state of language--the power of words and the nature of syntax--in The Grammar of Rock. He analyzes its assaults on listeners' impulses by investigating singers' styles, pondering illogical lunacies in lyrics, and deconstructing the nature of diction and presentation in the language. This is that rare book of discernment and probing wit (and not exclusively one that is a critical defense of quality) that positively evaluates the very nature of a pop song, and why one over another has an effect on the listener [Publisher description].… (més)
Membre:Manas1000
Títol:The grammar of rock : art and artlessess in 20th century pop lyrics
Autors:Alexander Theroux
Informació:Seattle, Wash. : Fantographics Books, [2013]
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:*
Etiquetes:rock, memoir, popular culture, popular music, bathroom, read

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The Grammar Of Rock: Art and Artlessness in 20th Century Pop Lyrics de Alexander Theroux

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http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/148241449118/the-grammar-of-rock-art-and-artlessne...

What is immediately apparent are the abundant errors present in the text of this garrulous book. The typos and misprints are so numerous I am surprised Alexander Theroux allowed the trade edition to be placed for sale and remain in print. Critical of almost anyone that has had anything to do with a song being sung or a lyric written it seems Theroux would have been a bit more concerned with the accuracy of his own published word. It seems ironic to witness so many errors in a work that attempts to destroy one or more somebodies on every page. He never fails to point out an other’s errors and idiocy, relentless in his attacks on ugly, fat, and untalented speech-impeded celebrities. Theroux could easily be construed as cruel and mean if his attacks weren’t so absolutely absurd and bitingly honest.

Read within this circus season of North American 2016 politics, and the unlikely Republican nomination of an extreme jughead named Donald Trump, it would be wonderful having Alexander Theroux share the same stage with this bombastic businessman and contribute to a debate on say one of Bill Maher’s panels. Maher, no doubt, would gloat in this clownish entertainment and smirk in light of the simpleton’s intellectual prowess. Similarly, The Grammar of Rock confronts head-on the obscene world we live in these days. It is frighteningly real and upsetting. Theroux rather adroitly demonstrates the ineptitude and bad taste absorbing our culture, and offers more than enough examples. Obviously the book’s title fails to expound on what actually will be gnawing away at us between his covers. Theroux bites hard, and often.

The jacket flaps claim the book is about lyrics, grammar, and the history of our songwriters, but for me it is a diatribe against what has become accepted in our country, and emerging around the world, as common speech in our communication with others. Alarmingly funny and digressive, this book is a must-read for those of us who utilize an adequate measure of reason in our lives, or at the least, spiritually want to. However, the errors of our ways are quickly pointed out by Theroux, expanded on, and solutions given as to how to correct this awful disease of the mouth and mind. Theroux is not simply screaming at us as other buffoons on the radio and TV do, and certainly he is not presenting Fox-like News as falsehoods made true that we must adhere our principles to. It is astounding to me how little we really do know as we fervently persist in our struggle to learn all we can. It is humbling to say the least.

Surprisingly, little has been written concerning Theroux’s seemingly hate-filled attacks flung at every sort of character in the public eye, and stereotypical to the degree of absurdity. Of course, there is the typical critical judgment offered that Theroux is a racist or a bigot, which always resembles sour grapes as far as I am concerned. If Theroux managed to attack only black people or gays or people with lisps then I might agree, but Alexander takes no prisoners and equally destroys every type of anomaly in the spoken word and most often includes a disparaging physical description of the subject to boot. Complaints have been raised over fact-checking and the number of errors and untruths discovered in the wordy works of this gifted writer. Not unlike the great performance artist Ray Johnson, whose last act was his own suicide, Theroux supersaturates his volumes of work with more details than possibly could be examined for factual accuracy. Even if his accountings are made-up the mere density of the text proffers extreme feelings of amazement. And he tenders nothing less than hostility and disgust which is what I suppose gives birth and fanciful credence to some claims of racism and bigotry, but in reality his paragraphs are simply personal rancor unhinged and uncensored against the entire human race.

But often Theroux is funny and extremely clever. I doubt any dissenter, besides a foolish Donald Trump, would want to go head-to-head with the man in an argument. Theroux is smart and knows it. And maybe that superiority comes through in his writing? Perhaps there is a bit too much grandiose and admiring countenance for who this writer sees reflected in his mirror. But he is not lazy, and by the sheer numbers of words he employs he insists his readers work as hard as he does. And maybe this book is his version of a cosmic joke and we all fools for thinking his work might be otherwise? I am novice when it comes to reading Alexander Theroux, but I intend to take a good look at most everything he has published. And if I live long enough to accomplish my goal perhaps I will have more to say about this authentic artist. Meanwhile I slog through his long-continuing diatribe and attempt to find a celebrity he may have missed skewering. ( )
1 vota MSarki | Oct 24, 2016 |
Theroux begins promisingly with a nod to slang (sexual and otherwise) in early blues and R & B. (I wish I knew what stavin’ chain meant).

He throws in a few amusing factoids. “Lollapalooza” was a test word used during WWII by American soldiers trying to catch Japanese spies who might be posing as Filipinos or even Americans. Cole Porter wrote “I Get a Kick Out of You” after having been beaten up by a truck driver during a homosexual encounter. (Is he pulling our leg?). So far, so good. I think I will be entertained.

Not so fast. After an overlong recounting of his childhood as a pedantic little twerp, Theroux launches himself into a petty and clichéd exposition of grammatical flubs in popular song. He whines, against redundancy and tautology, against illogical non sequiturs (a redundancy?) and mismatched pronouns. Not just in “rock,” but in Christmas carols, cowboy songs, show tunes and 1940s pop standards. Theroux takes time to point out that, by the evidence of his theme song, Mr. Rogers from the Neighborhood was not a logician. Uh-oh.

The text is without section breaks or chapters. Theroux jumps from one topic to the next, without logic, plan, or apparent purpose. From “Jimmy Cracked Corn” to Robert Oppenheimer. It’s not really hard to follow, but I kept asking myself, Why bother? I can read stream-of-consciousness, collage, cut-up. Whatever that is that David Markson does. I appreciate opinionated polemic, I like a good cantankerous rant. I generally have patience for a writer’s idiosyncrasies, as long as he has something interesting to say. I waited.

Theroux writes that he wants to distinguish “artless boobery” (bad) from “hip jargon,” “flip soulfulness,” and “organic presentation” (good), but then writes five pages of trite commentary on “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He tells us that there is a whole website for posting mis-heard lyrics (!). He finds “The Wabash Cannonball” bizarre, and Nat King Cole’s “Mona Lisa” bewildering. He uses fun words like bogosity and griffonage. He knows that kids escaped into rock lyrics in the 1960s—just like Adorno said would happen! He makes fun of southern accents, country music, and sports radio. I’m getting sleepy.

He does write a thoughtful appreciation of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and several inspired pages on songs written in moving cars and the death of Hank Williams, but then we get a put-down of New Kids on the Block. There is (only?) one paragraph on Tin Pan Alley, then he tells us that Glenn Gould accused the Beatles of “harmonic primitivism,” but Gould liked Petula Clark. This is mildly interesting, except that Theroux repeats it three times in 47 pages. He has little to say about Yoko Ono’s “Death of Samantha” (and nothing on the late great Cleveland band named for the song), but he tells us four or five times that the lyrics to “Duke of Earl” are “lunacy” since a duke lives in a duchy and not a dukedom. ZZzzzzzzzz…..

Finally, on page 93, I came to this sentence: “Stupidity in music is a fascinating subject.”

Glancing at the next page I saw the names of Englebert Humperdinck, John Denver, Dan Fogelberg, and Tony Orlando. I could not go on. ( )
1 vota HectorSwell | Apr 9, 2013 |
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National Book Award nominee, critic and one of America's least compromising satirists, Alexander Theroux takes a comprehensive look at the colorful language of pop lyrics and the realm of rock music in general in The Grammar of Rock: silly song titles; maddening instrumentals; shrieking divas; clunker lines; the worst (and best) songs ever written; geniuses of the art; movie stars who should never have raised their voice in song but who were too shameless to refuse a mic; and the excesses of awful Christmas recordings. Praising (and critiquing) the gems of lyricists both highbrow and low, Theroux does due reverence to classic word-masters like Ira Gershwin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Cole Porter, and Sammy Cahn, lyricists as diverse as Hank Williams, Buck Ram, the Moody Blues, and Randy Newman, Dylan and the Beatles, of course, and more outre ones like the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Patti Smith, the Fall (even Ghostface Killah), but he considers stupid rhymes, as well--nonsense lyrics, chop logic, the uses and abuses of irony, country music macho, verbal howlers, how voices sound alike and why, and much more. In a way that no one else has ever done, with his usual encyclopedic insights into the state of the modern lyric, Theroux focuses on the state of language--the power of words and the nature of syntax--in The Grammar of Rock. He analyzes its assaults on listeners' impulses by investigating singers' styles, pondering illogical lunacies in lyrics, and deconstructing the nature of diction and presentation in the language. This is that rare book of discernment and probing wit (and not exclusively one that is a critical defense of quality) that positively evaluates the very nature of a pop song, and why one over another has an effect on the listener [Publisher description].

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