(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke advises the following: “Irony: Do not let yourself be governed by it, especially not in uncreative moments. In creative moments try to make use of it as one more means of grasping life. Cleanly used, it too is clean, and one need not be ashamed ofContinue reading “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding”

Tokyo Storm Warning

An earlier piece on Recliner Notes investigates Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and the different traditions from which Dylan examined and pulled, including rhyming songs, nonsense songs, Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business,” and skatting within songs. At the core of the Dylan song and these other song forms is the rhyming and unrelenting cadenceContinue reading “Tokyo Storm Warning”

Uncomplicated

Renowned minimalist Lou Reed once said: “One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” Rock ‘n roll has plenty of examples of one-chord songs. “Chain of Fools” is filled with such incredible vocal interplay between Aretha Franklin and her background singers that the lack of a chord changeContinue reading “Uncomplicated”

Beyond Belief

In 2004, Elvis Costello wrote a lengthy appreciation of The Beatles for Rolling Stone: “I first heard of The Beatles when I was nine years old…I was exactly the right age to be hit by them full on. My experience — seizing on every picture, saving money for singles and EPs, catching them on aContinue reading “Beyond Belief”

Watching the Detectives

The essay “The Simple Art of Murder” written by crime writer Raymond Chandler was published in The Atlantic Monthly in December 1944. It’s his definitive statement on the mystery genre, encompassing insights on all manner of detective stories, country house murders, and hard-boiled crime fiction. The essay includes some praise, but mostly criticisms of suchContinue reading “Watching the Detectives”