Musical Autobiography

Disquiet's Marc Weidenbaum wrote 16 Albums That Changed My Life in response to a Facebook query. Fortunately he didn't put the answers there but shared them outside the gated community, that is to say, on his blog on the open Internet.

The post is a choice example of first person writing that is fun to read and uses autobiography to clearly and honestly stake out a critic's longstanding themes. It was interesting to learn this:

From 1989 through 1996 I was employed full time as an editor at Pulse!, the music magazine of the now defunct Tower Records. It was an amazing experience, to be that drenched in music on a daily basis. I wanted to work at Pulse! when I got out of college because it was the one magazine I knew of that took all music as its subject. These records, though, aren’t the reason I stayed at Pulse!; they’re the reason I eventually felt I was able to leave. I realized that for all my interest in a broad range of music — in a given year, I could interview Anthony Braxton and Billy Childish, Glenn Danzig and Depeche Mode, Aphex Twin and Rob Zombie — the following music made me wake up to the knowledge that electronically mediated (and, in a more fundamental way, meditative) music was where my head was at: [followed by discussions of John Fahey’s The Essential John Fahey, Deep Listening Band’s Deep Listening, Oval’s 94 Diskont, DJ Krush’s Strictly Turntablized, Gavin Bryars’s The Sinking of the Titanic, Cliff Martinez’s score to sex, lies, and videotape]

On the Oval CD, this is great:

Oval’s 94 Diskont: Of all the records listed here, this is probably the one most consumed by what succeeded it, the one that will hold up least — not because it was less great, but because its breakthroughs (the glitch, the desiccated quietude, the sense of process-as-content) have been so thoroughly absorbed, quantified, and codified, in the same way that the once radical lessons of the Velvet Underground, and Thelonious Monk, and Igor Stravinsky, just to name a few, have been normalized over time. Still, after hearing it, I never looked at my CD player the same way again.

Writing Exercise

Assignment for hypothetical journalism or fiction writing class:

Rewrite this New York Times story, The Great Divide, from the perspective of a reporter biased in favor of the South Asian immigrants to a Queens neighborhood. Try to include as many slurs and negative quotes as possible against the white ethnic holdouts in the area.