Literary Rock & Opinions on Metric and Neil Young

Rock Lit 101: Jim and Greg explore rock’s literary side and discuss the best pop lyricists from the stage to the page.

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This year’s crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated last week at a ceremony in Cleveland. 2009’s class includes Metallica, Run DMC, Jeff Beck, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony and the Imperials. While Metallica is getting its props, heavy metal is consistently unrepresented. Greg would vote to nominate Slayer. Jim agrees and adds that progressive rock music is also due for some representation. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Genesis, Yes and Jethro Tull are certainly as influential, if not more, than Little Anthony.

On the same day that U2 released a second set of tickets for their highly sought-after fall tour, New York Senator Chuck Schumer unveiled new legislation to crack down on the secondary ticket market, or scalping. Schumer is riding the wave of popularity he got after criticizing Ticketmaster for sales of Bruce Springsteen tickets, but Jim and Greg don’t blame him. Jim calls scalping a plague on the music industry, and both critics urge reform.

They may have stopped making music decades ago, but The Beatles’ output is still going strong. This fall Apple Corps and EMI will release the band’s entire catalog remastered digitally on CD. This is long overdue; their music hasn’t been upgraded since songs were first put on CD twenty years ago. But, while fans might be excited for a new model, Jim and Greg see this as a very transparent attempt to keep dipping into the same profit pool year after year.

Favorite Literary Rock songs

Recently Jim and Greg were invited to speak at Washington College in Maryland about the relationship between rock and literature. They were eager to share some of their discussion this week on the show...and play music! While pop music doesn’t get taken as seriously as the great novels of our time, for critics like Jim and Greg and for music fans, it’s as important a text as any other. Literary rock can mean multiple things—great rock criticism, poetic lyrics and even songs inspired by literature and poetic lyrics. Here are some of Jim and Greg’s favorite Literary Rock songs:

  • Roxy Music, In Every Dream Home a Heartbreak
  • The Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil
  • Patti Smith, Gloria
  • Cannibal Ox, Iron Galaxy
  • The Kinks,The Village Green Preservation Society**
  • Sly and the Family Stone, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
  • Blur, Parklife

**Ray Davies fans should check out his 2008 visit to the show.

Fork in the Road Neil Young

Fork In the Road (Deluxe Version)

One of rock’s greatest lyricists, Neil Young, has a new album out this week called Fork in the Road. Young is not only a talented songwriter, but a quick one, and this album is another one of his fast and dirty social statements. For Greg this sounds like recycled Neil. He wishes the musician had put more time into refining the lyrics, as well as the music. It breaks his heart, but Greg gives Fork in the Road a Trash It. Jim can’t go that far. He agrees that the lyrics are not impressive, but he is inspired by Young’s energy and passion. He gives the album a Try It rating.

Fantasies Metric

Fantasies

The next review is of Metric’s new album Fantasies. This is the fourth release for the Toronto quartet. Vocalist Emily Haines and guitarist Jimmy Shaw might be best known for their work in the Broken Social Scene, but it’s on this album that they really shine. Jim calls the songs pure pop pleasure with lots of sex appeal. Greg hears a lot of growth in Haines’ songwriting and thinks this is Metric’s best ablum yet. Fantasies gets a double Buy It.

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