As both an aficionado of music and writing, I have always found music-related magazines to be very entertaining. Last summer, I had the opportunity to write a few articles for my friend’s pop culture blog, and I found the experience to be amazing. Taking an audible instrumental art form and reinterpreting it linguistically is extremely challenging, but provides an entirely different understanding of the original piece. It is also interesting because one original song/album/genre/style/etc. can be interpreted and/or described in an infinite amount of ways. Reading these interpretations in music magazines, such as Rolling Stone and Billboard, opens my eyes to new ways of thinking about music, one of my deepest passions. Writing for or working for a music magazine would be an experience that I would love to be able to experience one day.
I’m going to preface this blog post by saying that I do have other interests besides music! I swear! I know I keep bringing it up in examples, but I am capable of thinking of other things!
That being said, the blog I chose is called All Songs Considered. It is an offshoot of National Public Radio and covers current musical artists, issues surrounding the industry, and offers musical reviews. This blog is interesting because it utilizes a variety of forms to reach its audience. There are ‘traditional’ articles, op ed pieces, and advice columns. There is also a radio broadcast of the show on the weekends (also called “All Songs Considered”) and an archive of interviews and podcasts on the website. The most notable – and my personal favorite – aspect of “All Songs” is the “Tiny Desk” concert series. Various artists come and perform for Bob Boilen, host of “All Things Considered”, at his desk (located in his office, which has enormous bookshelves full of books you wish you were cool enough to read). The concerts rarely last more than 30 minutes and feature artists like Banks, Diego El Cigala, Leon Bridges, and (most awesomely) T – Pain.
The wonderful thing about “All Songs” is the breadth of music it covers. Yes, there are a lot of hipster-y, neo-folk, ambient pop artists and albums that are covered. But, the writers at “All Songs” treat artists like Macklemore and Pink Flyod without a hint of irony or blasé. I have yet to encounter a review that oozes the amount of pretentiousness that competing music blogs display. Although All Songs is definitely aware of their target audience (articles entitled “Songs that Make Us Cry” and “How Can Parents Make Time for Music?” pepper the main feed), their genuinely informative, fun writing style and unpretentious, varied presentation of a myriad of music styles and artists make it a great blog option for any music lover.
(Included are some random tracks from my own music library in attempt to mirror the wide range found on All Songs Considered)
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”
In desperate need of a study break this afternoon, I closed my Linguistics book and opened my computer. Ah, Netflix. The utopian website we students use to escape our studies, turn off our minds, and enjoy hours of mindless entertainment. But today as I was watching my go-to show –Say Yes to the Dress, obviously –my mind kept drifting back to my studies. I watched the bride say, “I want a gown with ruching,” but what I heard was, “The first step of language standardization is selection.” I needed to take a mental break, and Netflix just wasn’t doing it for me. So I said no to the show, and grabbed my iPod.
I’m always searching for new artists and styles to discover. Unfortunately my wallet can’t keep up with my discoveries, so I rarely purchase new music. I have a very technical, precise music-finding process: I peruse YouTube and Pandora, hear a new song, fall in love with it, look up the artist on Google, briefly cyber-stalk him or her, listen to his or her music (and nothing else) for two weeks, and consequently get tired of it. And the cycle repeats.
But today was different. I took a pass on Pandora and opted for my outdated iPod. Not knowing where to start, I hit Shuffle. Since I haven’t updated the song library in so long, I was hit with some serious throwbacks. We’re talking Mariah Carey’s “The Emancipation of Mimi” circa 2005. I realized while skipping through the tracks how so many of them still hold meaning in my life today, but in a different way than when I first heard them. I thought I’d share the first three songs that played.
“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. This took me right back to my family’s living room watching The Hills with my big sister when I was a little kid in high school who liked to read and write, and knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. Fast forward to today, I have no clue what I want to be when I grow up. But the song gives me hope that something good is out there for me, and I don’t have to change who I am to get it.
“I’m Only Me When I’m With You” by Taylor Swift. Maybe I should be embarrassed by how much T. Swizzle I have on my iPod, but it’s a good tune. When this song came out, I would always think of my best friend from elementary school. That was eight years ago. She and I will be living together (for the second time) next semester at college.
“Stop This Train” by John Mayer. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get misty-eyed when this song came on. Midterms suck. Everyone’s stressed, and we find ourselves wishing that college could just be over already so we didn’t have to deal with the stress of classes. This song gave me a helpful reminder that even through the tough times, we need to embrace these years, because they’ll be gone before we know it.
If anyone looks at my computer history, they will see one of my most frequented website destinations- Pitchfork.com. Pitchfork is a website that reviews music, features up-and-coming music videos and tracks, and shares “indie music scene” news. You may be thinking, “Well, this doesn’t sound like a blog to me.” You’re right. It’s not. However, its staffers have recently created a blog, housed within the website. This blog is called The Pitch.
The Pitch gives staffers a chance to review music and share news that didn’t get a chance to find its niche on the front page. Not only does it review music that has been overlooked, but it also leaves room for the more amusing topics. Such a topic was posted just today, sarcastically acknowledging Justin Vernon’s plethora of musical projects. His “mostly unintelligible singing on Kanye West albums” was honorably ranked second place in the long list. The lead singer of Bon Iver is talented and most of Pitchfork’s reviews acknowledge this, but even the music gurus assure us that it’s okay to poke fun once in a while. This playful mood exists alongside real questions pertaining to music-related fads of today, such as the increasingly common claim by younger people that LPs are superior to CDs. Such nostalgic topics, like LPs, are blended with those artists and trends that are more modern. In a sense, nostalgia and modernity amalgamate into a moment that acknowledges both the past and its relationship to the present. Similarly, specific topics are organized alongside broader ideals and far-reaching questions. The connection exists through the candidness and sporadic nature of the blogging scene, and this is interesting to me.
Primarily, this blog allows Pitchfork’s dedicated readers to investigate what’s behind the big news and gain insight into the opinions and quirkiness of the website’s writers, editors, and contributors. The blog’s audience is presumably younger people who obviously have an interest in music, but who are also searching for something more refreshing and informal than most of the regular Pitchfork news.
So I was just about to sit down and throw down some serious action on my ‘Why I Write’ and I turned on some music. I always do this when I write anything but this time I paused. I was wondering if I need it to write and after trying without it for like 30 seconds I realized I do. I also realized it’s not to have something on, but it helps me get into a ‘rhythm’ and I just start crankin out sentences. Also I’ll hear a lyrics or a word here or there that’ll inspire me.
Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone else threw on some music while they wrote. If so, for what reason(s)? Is there any specific type of music you have to have on if you do write with it? (This sounds really academic-y but I’m genuinely curious)
I know for me it depends what stage I’m in on a piece and what type of writing I’m doing. For something like ‘Why I Write’ I gotta throw on some oldddddd Kanye/Common like ‘Hey Mama’ ‘Love Is…’ ‘The Corner’ ‘Heard Em Say’ and believe it or not a little Darius Rucker in there too. And some Matchbox 20. I don’t know there’s pretty much no type of music I can’t listen to.
I hope this generates some discussion