A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...
Jul 23, 2014
Paul McCartney and John Lennon writing “I Saw Her Standing There,” 1962
I looked this photo up after reading about it in Joshua Shenk’s Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs:
One late November afternoon in 1962, John Lennon and Paul McCartney got together to write at Paul’s house at 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool. Their ritual was to come around in the afternoon, just the two of them, when Paul’s dad was at work. They would go to the small front room overlooking Jim McCartney’s patch of garden and sit opposite each other. “Like mirrors,” Paul said.
John sat on a chair pulled in from the dining room. He had his Jumbo Gibson acoustic-electric with a sunburst finish. Paul sat on a little table in front of the telly with his foot on the hearth of the coal fireplace. He played a Spanish-style guitar with nylon strings, strung in reverse for a lefty. In a photography shot by Paul’s brother, Michael, they’re both looking down at a notebook on the floor, filled with lyrics…
…Years later, Paul told his brother that he loved his photo of the “I Saw Her Standing There” writing session because it captured how it really was—”the Rodgers and Hammerstein of pop at work.” Writing “eyeball to eyeball,” as John said, they weren’t just frontmen for a rock group; they were composers working in concert.
There’s a Lennon/McCartney excerpt of the book over at the Atlantic.
Photo credit: Mike McCartney, image via britishbeatlemania
Filed under: The Beatles
He picked up a pebble
and threw it into the sea.
And another, and another.
He couldn’t stop.
He wasn’t trying to fill the sea.
He wasn’t trying to empty the beach.
He was just throwing…
Jul 22, 2014
Carl Wilson, Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste
This was great. I picked it up because of Mark’s review.
I read Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, and it’s probably my favorite book of the year so far. Like Wilson, I never cared that much for Céline Dion’s music, and hadn’t tried to care, but I came away with a new appreciation for where she came from and some of her shrewd business moves. But it’s not just about the music and industry angle, the good stuff is how he uses Dion as the pivot to talk about taste, and all the baggage that informs our opinions.
Much of this book is about reasonable people carting around cultural assumptions that make them assholes to millions of strangers.
There are tons of great quotes from the book, many of which Mark already pulled out. I particularly liked this one—
Punk, metal, even social-justice rock like U2 or Rage Against the Machine, with their emphatic slogans or individuality and independence, are as much “inspirational” as Céline’s music is, but for different subcultural groups. They are just as one-sided and unsubtle.
—which reminded me of the Neil Young vs. Billy Joel section of Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music.
It’s a really fun read. I kept misplacing it around the house and asking my wife, “Have you seen my Celine Dion book?” Which was pretty hilarious. Recommended.
BTW: there’s a new edition of the book that includes essays from other writers on the topic of taste.
Filed under: my reading year 2014
READ A BOOK INSTEAD
I made an iPhone wallpaper for you.
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away.”
Jul 21, 2014
Jul 19, 2014
Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts.
Robert De Niro, Sr. and Virginia Admiral
Did you know Robert De Niro’s parents were both painters who met in art school?
At [Hans] Hofmann’s summer school, [De Niro] met fellow student Virginia Admiral, whom he married in 1942. The couple moved into a large, airy loft in New York’s Greenwich Village, where they were able to paint. They surrounded themselves with an illustrious circle of friends, including writers Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, playwright Tennessee Williams, and the actress and famous Berlin dancer Valeska Gert. Admiral and De Niro separated shortly after their son, Robert De Niro, Jr., was born in August 1943.
See also: the documentary Remembering The Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.
Hans Hofmann Drawings
Executed with a matchstick dipped in ink, and sometimes made on the fly in his roadster, the drawings come across as breezy finger exercises. The more you look at them, though, the more you see…
More on Hofmann here.
Filed under: drawing
Jul 18, 2014
It seems like many people think that if you drive yourself crazy, then you can write. I’m absolutely not interested in that. It made sense to me to be as whole and well as I could be, and as happy. I wanted to see what a fortunate life would produce. What writing would come out of a mind that didn’t try to torment itself? What did I have to know? What did I have to do rather than what can I torment and bend myself into doing? What was the fruit on that tree?
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