SOUNDTRACK: ALANIS MORISETTE-Jagged Little Pill (1995).
In this book, DFW considers himself to be absolutely useless when it comes to music. He doesn’t know anything at all. He says he listens to Bloomington country radio stations until he can’t take it anymore and then he switches over to the alt rock station. He’d never even heard of Nirvana until after Cobain’s suicide.
And so, the soundtrack for the book is R.E.M., Bush (two songs) and Alanis. In fact, there’s a surprisingly long section devoted to Alanis in the book, including DFW’s admittance that he would love to have a date with her for tea. He admits that she is pretty much manufactured angst and yet there’s something about her that he finds irresistible.
At this stage (2010), the whole Alanis thing seems almost adorable in it’s “controversy” or “hype” or whatever. It’s still hard for me to be objective about the quality of Jagged Little Pill (I mean, Flea plays bass on it so it must be good, right?). I really enjoyed it at the time, perhaps because of its rawness or its honesty (which was pretty novel at the time, especially from a woman), all packed in a clean production of course. There’s also something weirdly appealing to me about her (really not very good) voice. She seems just off enough for all of this to be really sincere.
And of course, the nastiness of “You Oughta Know” was pretty astonishing for pop radio at the time. True, there’s songs on here that make me cringe now (there’s a lot about her that makes me cringe) and yet there’s still some really enjoyable stuff here. Even the perennially mocked “Ironic” for all of its flaws has a stellar chorus.
Now that the “women in rock” phase of alternative music has passed, there’s very little music like this being made anymore. So it’s kind of fun to reminisce about this stage of my musical life, warts and all.
Oh, and by the way, I also grew up watching Alanis on “You Can’t Do That on Television,” so it was pretty exciting to see a child star that I knew make it big.
I never liked Bush though.
[READ:April 21, 2010] Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself
As I mentioned, I was super excited to get this book and I treated it like the artifact it is: trying to read it in one sitting (impossible) or at least in as compressed a time as possible to preserve the stream of consciousness attitude of the book.
For, as the subtitle doesn’t quite state, this is five-day conversation between David Lipsky and David Foster Wallace. The tape recorder was running for most of these five days and what we get is a literal transcript of the conversation (with much of Lipsky’s parts excised). It is an all-access pass to the mind of the man who wrote Infinite Jest as the hype of the book was really taking off and as his brief promotional tour for the book was winding down.
Lipsky was (is) a reporter for Rolling Stone. DFW’s Infinite Jest was the huge media hit (#15 on the bestseller list) and the hype was outrageous. DFW had begun a (sold out) reading tour which actually began the day before the book came out, so he rightfully notes that no one could have actually read the book by then, they were just there because of the hype. And Lipsky himself is part of this hype.
Lipsky was sent to do a profile of the wunderkind, literature’s next great hope (RS hadn’t (hasn’t?) covered a young author like this in a decade at least). The idea was that Lipsky would tag along with DFW, go to the last readings on the tour, an NPR interview, and spend most of their time together: planes, rental cars, hotel rooms, etc generally just hanging out with tape recorder running. (more…)
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