Awkward Ages

  1. July 31, 2012 @ 11:47 am Catherine Carrigan on Facebook

    Aaaaaaaaaand I just listened to that song three times in a row. Nice work.

    Reply

  2. July 31, 2012 @ 11:50 am Sarah Mesle on Facebook

    YES! That is what we are talking about here, Catherine Carrigan.

    Reply

  3. July 31, 2012 @ 11:52 am Sarah Mesle on Facebook

    it’s unclear, actually, why everything on the internet isn’t about both billy bragg and john cusack.

    Reply

    • July 31, 2012 @ 6:10 pm Pam Thurschwell

      For me John Cusack, in that very picture, is the patron saint of avidly.

      Reply

      • July 31, 2012 @ 11:19 pm Beth

        O god, me too. Please let him be your/our mascot.

        Reply

  4. July 31, 2012 @ 12:10 pm Sarah Mesle on Facebook

    also, Pam, I’m super interested in this question, and particularly interested in how childhood and adolescence work together with music, somehow. Like, John Cusack up there: i was just a kid when that movie came out, but it’s totally “my song,” too. I think there’s something happening not only with being a teenager, but also about being a kid and imagining yourself as a teenager or an adult: like, listening to a particular kind of music helps conjure the kind of “adult” you imagine you will be. Is that why Bob Dylan can write your song, and mine, even though he represents neither of our times? Peter Coviello, do you have thoughts here?

    Reply

  5. July 31, 2012 @ 12:14 pm Peter Coviello on Facebook

    I know certain songs – Don’t Think Twice, supremely – lent to me an expectant sense of what adulthood, or even later adolescence, was going to be like. That expectancy did a lot of work for me in the lower times.

    Reply

  6. July 31, 2012 @ 12:17 pm Hester Blum on Facebook

    My experience is the opposite–not expectancy but a sense of belatedness. This could be the angst of the adolescent Girl Out of Time, but spending my teen years listening to Dylan, Bruce, Neil Young, Otis Redding made me feel that all feelings had already been felt, and it was my lot to try to re-feel them, belatedly.

    Reply

    • July 31, 2012 @ 6:15 pm Pam Thurschwell

      I think I was more with Hester here. At a certain point in junior high I spent most of my waking hours wondering why I hadn’t been a mod chick in the 60s following the Who around from gig to gig. But I also think Sarah M is totally right– belatedness and expectancy are just two sides of the same coin.

      Reply

  7. July 31, 2012 @ 12:20 pm Sarah Mesle on Facebook

    but then one question is: are belatedness and expectancy necessarily opposites? It makes me think of Jordan Stein’s thing about the narcissicism of 60’s nostalgia.

    Reply

  8. July 31, 2012 @ 12:22 pm Sarah Mesle on Facebook

    also, pete, getting an expectant sense of adulthood from Don’t Think Twice is, like, whoah. No wonder you like Henry James.

    Reply

  9. July 31, 2012 @ 12:24 pm Peter Coviello on Facebook

    Beautiful and intricate heartbreak, and cool articulacy about it: that’s what I liked to think was coming. HA!

    Reply

  10. July 31, 2012 @ 12:25 pm Peter Coviello on Facebook

    Also: I suspect you need to have been acuter than I was to sense a belatedness in your attachments, and what they do for you. I was alarmingly uncritical – or maybe under-suspicious? – of stuff I loved, even then.

    Reply

  11. July 31, 2012 @ 12:25 pm Diane

    Springsteen’s mournful, almost grieving 1988 live version of “Born to Run,” as he was facing down 40. Everything about it says, “I’m not that guy any more, and I miss him. And I’m not sure if I ever found if love was wild or if love was real.”

    Reply

  12. July 31, 2012 @ 12:27 pm Sarah Mesle on Facebook

    what I loved best was Subterranean Homesick Blues, which i guess is truly what I hoped and feared was coming (ie: freedom to say and think crazy crazy shit). Not sure what this says about my affection for Dickens.

    Reply

    • July 31, 2012 @ 9:49 pm Glenn Hendler

      Me too, Sarah. (On Subterranean Homesick Blues, not Dickens). Though I think I took the song to be as social realism. It wasn’t till years later that I could handle a song like “Don’t Think Twice”–or rather, that I thought I’d had enough experience to sing along to something that mature.

      Reply

      • August 1, 2012 @ 10:26 am Pam Thurschwell

        I love ‘Don’t think Twice’ immensely (and love the way in which Pete C loves it too) but I’ve never thought of it as mature– rather as the bitter, vicious, hilarious Dylan of ‘Positively Fourth Street’ trying to sound mature — ‘You just kind of wasted my precious time’? Unbelievably beautiful music– fuck you lyrics. Actually there’s something kind of fascinating about what different people experience as ‘mature’ music at different times of their lives here, as well, and what that word means.

        Reply

        • August 1, 2012 @ 10:30 am Pam Thurschwell

          But then again, at 14 and 15 I also spent a lot of time imagining I could have had enough (or indeed any) love affairs that ended really badly that would allow me to feel the vituperative and witty ire that Bob Dylan or Elvis Costello felt. So yes, listening to pop music was predicting a version of sophisticated, miserable maturity. As Pete, put it so well above: ‘Beautiful and intricate heartbreak, and cool articulacy about it’

          Reply

          • August 1, 2012 @ 3:56 pm Sarah, Sarah, and Jordan

            The “precious time” lyric continues to be meaningful to me, I must say. “we never did too much talking anyway.”

          • August 1, 2012 @ 10:33 pm Glenn Hendler

            I should read further down the thread before posting. My last note–which got placed at the end of this thread–was written after I read Pam’s about not thinking the Dylan of “Don’t Think Twice” was really mature. So, in reply to Pam’s “but then again”: Yes, exactly. ……and I too was thinking about Elvic C as being similarly brilliant at this kind of lyric. Cf. the song “I Want You,” for instance; perhaps the most terrifying love song ever written. Or “After the Fall,”–has anyone else ever written a pop song about trying to revive a relationship after an affair has been discovered and ended? I’ve experienced those songs, too, as the kind of thing you’re talking about in your wonderful piece: moments of present intensity combined with timebombs–whether they’re bombs that explode the past into the present moment or bombs that seem to bring an imagined future into the now.

        • August 1, 2012 @ 10:17 pm Glenn Hendler

          Maybe I matured slowly, but I didn’t have enough romantic experiences to appreciate such witty fuck you lyrics till my twenties. And continued to need them now and then all through my thirties. And am only now thinking about how essential–in an almost Jamesian way–the “just kind of” and “precious” are in that line, even if they may seem excessive and extraneous.

          Reply

  13. July 31, 2012 @ 12:31 pm Hester Blum on Facebook

    I inhabited Another Side of Bob Dylan–Spanish Harlem Incident especially. Live with this for a piece:
    Gypsy gal, the hands of Harlem
    Cannot hold you to its heat
    Your temperature’s too hot for taming
    Your flaming feet burn up the street
    I am homeless, come and take me
    Into reach of your rattling drums
    Let me know, babe, about my fortune
    Down along my restless palms

    Gypsy gal, you got me swallowed
    I have fallen far beneath
    Your pearly eyes, so fast an’ slashing
    An’ your flashing diamond teeth
    The night is pitch black, come an’ make my
    Pale face fit into place, ah, please!
    Let me know, babe, I’m nearly drowning
    If it’s you my lifelines trace

    I been wond’rin’ all about me
    Ever since I seen you there
    On the cliffs of your wildcat charms I’m riding
    I know I’m ’round you but I don’t know where
    You have slayed me, you have made me
    I got to laugh halfways off my heels
    I got to know, babe, will you surround me?
    So I can tell if I’m really real

    Reply

  14. July 31, 2012 @ 12:31 pm Hester Blum on Facebook

    Really real. Lifelines trace.

    Reply

  15. July 31, 2012 @ 12:32 pm Peter Coviello on Facebook

    Your wildcat charms.

    Reply

  16. July 31, 2012 @ 12:33 pm Hester Blum on Facebook

    You can ride this straight through to New York City Serenade, of course–any deeper blue you’ll be playing in your grave, save your notes.

    Reply

  17. July 31, 2012 @ 12:34 pm Peter Coviello on Facebook

    Fish laaaaaaaaady!

    Reply

  18. July 31, 2012 @ 12:41 pm Hester Blum on Facebook

    Am I being an uncharitable asshole on your thread to say that I can’t abide acoustic versions of things ever? Yes I am.

    Reply

  19. July 31, 2012 @ 12:47 pm Peter Coviello on Facebook

    EVER? Oh, Hester. You need to hear Chrissie Hynde’s amazing cover of Radiohead’s Creep – a version that expertly leeches all the treacly self-pity out of the original, and leaves something way more terrifying.

    Reply

  20. July 31, 2012 @ 12:48 pm Josh K-sky

    this song that describes its own origin story simultaneously deconstructs it

    Strongly recommended: Randy Newman’s “My Life Is Good”, which is both a repeated story told originally to the singer’s son’s kindergarten teacher, but also originally composed (as described within) by “a little brown girl my wife and I picked up in Mexico.” not otherwise on topic.

    Reply

    • July 31, 2012 @ 6:19 pm Pam Thurschwell

      And also a great, hilarious song, and totally about why adulthood is a) impossible and b) really, really annoying. Also isn’t that the one where he says Bruce says to him ‘Rand, I’m tired, would you like to be the boss for a while?’

      Reply

  21. July 31, 2012 @ 1:29 pm Hester Blum on Facebook

    Peter, if I conceded I would lose my standing as The Absolutist.

    Reply

  22. July 31, 2012 @ 1:32 pm Peter Coviello on Facebook

    You wear that status way too well to lose it, it’s true.

    Reply

  23. August 1, 2012 @ 1:19 am Stefan Llewellyn Smith

    Those Paul Simon/Billy Bragg sentences are an example of a macro within a song. The song is “I’m [substitute current age] now…”, like inserting an address into a form letter or running a macro within a spreadsheet. That’s rather anachronistic for a 1965 song, I suppose, but the underlying logic is the same. Any other songs like this? You’d have expected from an overtly computer oriented singer or group, maybe Kratwerk or Buggles?

    Reply

  24. August 1, 2012 @ 3:46 am Mandy Berry

    This is AWESOME.

    Reply


THOUGHTS?

Your email address will not be published.