Bookmarked The Fellowship of the Rockers (NPR)

The new documentary Get Back, cut from 50-year-old footage of Beatles recording sessions by director Peter Jackson, offers a chance to look at one moment when the myth of the “band guy” took shape.

Ann Powers uses Get Back to reflect upon the myth of ‘band guys’.

The band guy’s footprints forged the genre’s path from the early 1960s onward, from Liverpool’s grubby Cavern Club to Seattle’s dingy Dutchman rehearsal space, in leather boots and Converse sneakers. Blending Hobbit-like charm with Aragorn-ish glamor, this figure took shape within the dreams of countless men following in the wake of John, Paul, George and Ringo teaming up as the Fab Four. The romance, familial connection and creative exchange that sparked for The Beatles in their Cavern Club days grew mythic as they became the biggest act rock ever produced, pulling rock’s ring from the hands of solo artists and duos and making fellowship the primary energy empowering rock’s quest. Over the decades, band guys traded leather for Spandex for skateboarder shorts, blew up the genre like punks and reassembled it as grunge; but what bore repeating was that story of men growing up together through music, turning into a family and finding glory on the battlefields of rhythm and noise.

Associated with this is the irony that as the world was becoming less segregated, music was become more so with the appropriation women and culture. In particular, “The BeatlesΒ brought white America a sense of relief.”

It’s not a coincidence that the music industry itself became more segregated during a period when civil rights defined the spirit of protest in America. The Beatles and the other English soul transformers/appropriators that quickly followed in their wake, from The Rolling Stones to Joe Cocker, personally protested the divisions that greeted them on tour and sometimes in the recording studio; yet as they became rock’s norm, they allowed white fans to enjoy what the late great music writer Greg Tate identified as a pasteurized form of Black culture: “everything but the burden.”

Women of any race were also pushed out of the band-guy narrative, despite the very real roles they played in the British Invasion, from Tina Turner teaching Mick Jagger how to move to The Shirelles inspiring The Beatles’ harmonies.

This is an insightful piece. It had me thinking about the balance of guys and girls in Dave Grohl’s autobiography. Although there was discussion of Joan Jett, this was wedged in-between living in the van and Pantera’s strip club.

It also had me thinking about Damian Cowell’s discussion of white male rock in his podcast. What is intriguing is how the group may change, but the myth carries on.

The group sound doesn’t always feed the myth of the band guy, but as water tends to find its own level, it’s become intertwined with it. It’s not imaginary, this sense that musicians making music together over time produce something that both enhances and exceeds each participant especially when they are composing together. This is one way to understand jazz, for example. But in rock the fascination with “the group sound” melded with a romantic view of masculine freedom and prowess that made the band not just a conduit for artistry, but a way of life. Even as the multiracial revolution disco wrought overtook it in the 1970s and, simultaneously, punk’s antics knocked it down a peg, the band lived on as the most potent signifier of rock’s ability, in the words of its post-1970s high priest Bruce Springsteen, to “bust this city in half.”

Bookmarked How Kate Bush’s ‘The Dreaming’ Made My Monsters My Own (NPR)

The Dreaming is a young artist’s attempt to figure out how making music, and the striving for deeper understanding that work demands, makes her a monster not to others, but to herself – strange in her own body and mind. “If identity is shape carrying story,” the scholar Caroline Walter Bynum wrote in her 1998 study Metamorphosis and Identity, “we need not decide between mind and body, inner and outer, biology and society, agency and essence. Rather we are living beings, shapes with stories, always changing but also always carrying traces of what we were before.” What has been identified as monstrous, Bynum’s words suggest, is simply human, though it has been called fearsome and degraded within hierarchies devised to limit and oppress. The Dreaming is not a perfect work, any more than I lived an ideal or even always defensible life when just starting out in the world. But it fights against this banishment of difference and desire, and I still can feel the ferocity of its roar.

Listened Kate Bush from Bandsplain

Yasi Salek and Ann Powers meander through Kate Bush’s musical career across three hours. Some of the interesting points that I had not considered was that Bush’s influences are not clear. In part, this is why it can be so difficult the categorise her music. I also liked the suggestion that artists belong to an ‘imagined communities’.

Being a Spotify podcast, it was nice hearing the songs in context.

Some other pieces on Kate Bush include BBC’s The Kate Bush Story and Double J’s The J Files.