Required Reading: Collective Action and the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

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A Marvin Gaye mural by Aniekan Udofia in the 700 block of S Street, NW, DC (Photo by Elvert Barnes)

Required Reading is Parklife DC’s essay series on music appreciation.

Recently, Rolling Stone released a new list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, releasing a wave of responses. These responses to the list largely focused on content of the list, on issues of representation and of the position of various genres in the canon of popular music. Almost nothing, however, has been said about the form and structure of the list.

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Required Reading: What I Learned About Writing Fiction From Reviewing Concerts

Working from home writing notes
Creative writing! (Photo courtesy Microbiz Mag, http://www.microbizmag.co.uk

Required Reading is Parklife DC’s essay series on music appreciation.

When I was just starting to write concert reviews, my editor advised me to find the story and tell it. That turned out to be great advice. A concert review should be more than just what happened. It should be unified, it should have a through-line. This is true for any narrative, fiction or non. In learning to tell the stories of concerts, I’ve become a better writer, not just of concert reviews, but of fiction.

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Required Reading: What I’m Missing Without Live Music

The Birchmere
The Birchmere is among the DC-area music venues closed by the covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Dan Reed)

Required Reading is Parklife DC’s essay series on music appreciation.

Music provides more to its fans than just entertainment. Live shows provide community. They are places where people who share an interest can come together. Losing live music during this pandemic has stripped away my primary outlet for socialization.

I have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Socializing and relationships do not come easily for me. I struggle to make smalltalk. My affect strikes a lot of people as “off.”

Of the many communities where I’ve dipped my toes, none has proved as supportive and welcome as music and music fandom. I can relate to fellow music fans on the basis of a shared interest, which makes me feel comfortable and confident in that setting. I’m even appreciated and respected for my encyclopedic knowledge.

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Required Reading: Parallels in the Development of Country Music and Genre Fiction

Country Music Museum
A peek inside the Country Music Museum (Photo by Adinda Uneputty)

Required Reading is Parklife DC’s essay series on music appreciation.

Country music and genre fiction (specifically science-fiction and fantasy, hereafter just “sff”) might not seem like they have much in common. In fact, they have developed along strikingly similar lines. Both are popular art forms subject to a certain devaluation, especially by cultural elites. And in both cases, there is a divide between a more conservative mainstream that appeals to the masses and more political progressive, artistically ambitious element.

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My Favorite Artist: Lucinda Williams

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Lucinda Williams (Photo by Danny Clinch)

Editor’s Note: Parklife DC asked its contributors to write essays about their favorite bands. These essays appear in an occasional series, My Favorite Artist, and provide our readers with insights into our bloggers, their motivations, and their approach to covering concerts.  

In 1994, Lucinda Williams won her first Grammy Award for Best Country Song for “Passionate Kisses,” a track from her self-titled 1988 turn to Americana. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s cover of the song also won for Best Country Vocal Performance.

While Mary may have taken away the hardware for her performance of the song, Lucinda’s hardcore fans — like me — will always prefer her performance of the song.

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Live Review: Wire @ Union Stage — 3/9/20

Wire @ Union Stage, Washington DC, 03/09/2020
Colin Newman performs with Wire at Union Stage on March 9, 2020. (Photo by Paivi Salonen)

For over 40 years, Wire has been one of the most innovative bands to come out of the United Kingdom, if not the world. Since their 1977 debut, Pink Flag, they’ve shifted their musical style with almost every album. Beginning as a stripped-down, breakneck-paced punk affair, Wire has embraced new textures and sounds, including electronic music.

The band’s recent show at DC’s Union Stage began with a 45-minute DJ set of electronic music, with one notable composition that sounded like a fusion of Ennio Morricone and ambient electronics.

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