Best Music Writing 2008 by Nelson George, Daphne Carr

By Nelson George, Daphne Carr

The 9th access within the acclaimed sequence celebrating the simplest writing on each variety of tune, from rock to hip-hop, R&B to jazz, pop to blues, and extra.

Best track writing is the definitive advisor to the yr in song writing, an annual ceremonial dinner of essays, missives, and musings on each musical type via critics, novelists, and musicians themselves. Culled from guides starting from blogs to the New Yorker, the 2008 variation captures a 12 months in track writing as assorted and riveting because the tune it illuminates.

Writers who've seemed in Best song Writing comprise: Greil Marcus, Sarah Vowell, Nick Tosches, Jonathan Lethem, Dave Eggers, David Rakoff, David Hadju, Lenny Kaye, The Onion, Gary Giddins, Jessica Hopper, Luc Sante, Kelefa Sanneh, David Byrne, Daphne A. Brooks, Jody Rosen, Anne Midgette, Sasha Frere-Jones, Elizabeth MГ©ndez Berry, Alex Ross, TourГ©, Lynn Hirschberg, Chuck Klosterman, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jay McInerney, Elvis Costello, Susan Orlean, Mike Doughty, Lorraine Ali, and plenty of more.

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All of them strained to lurch about kinetically as they tweaked the knobs on their Korgs. Midway through this rather arid demonstration, I sat down with John Richards, KEXP’s morning-show host and probably the most listened-to indie-rock DJ in the nation. Richards has a slight build, an elfin face, and dirty-blond hair parted down the middle. Thirty-three years old, Richards started as an intern at the station (under its previous name, KCMU) and worked his way all the way up to drivetime. His taste is bulletproof; I find myself constantly checking the real-time playlist during his online broadcasts to catch the band names.

I’m like, I want to keep some privacy, some sense of mystery. But I also want to have this intimacy with our fans. qxd 28 6/30/08 11:26 AM Page 28 SEX, DRUGS AND UPDATING YOUR BLOG band the Hold Steady, and I met up with him at a Japanese bar in Pittsburgh, where the band was performing on its latest national tour. An exuberant but thoughtful blond-surfer type, Kubler drank a Sapporo beer and explained how radically the Internet had changed his life on the road. His previous band existed before the Web became ubiquitous, and each town it visited was a mystery: Would 20 people come out?

Qxd 14 6/30/08 11:26 AM Page 14 ANNUALS perversely, had not even attracted much of an audience in its own hometown of Minneapolis until it was picked up by the various blogs and by KEXP. “A listener in Austin told me about it,” Richards recalled. “I sent somebody off to find the music—find this right away, I said. . ” The trick in breaking bands, Richards said, is repetition. “Cowbell”—Tapes ’n Tapes’ first hit, a driving raw thing—“was the song I was hitting constantly. And just kept hitting it, and hitting it, and hitting it, and then all of a sudden you saw their hometown suddenly react to a station playing their band.

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