Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, June 10, 2004


I heard "Burn" by Usher on the radio again yesterday. Every time I hear the song I like it more. It has unique style. Stripped down rhythm section, lush vocal harmonies, and lead singing that goes as quickly as virtuoso rapping, but with nice melody and lovely tone. Beautiful.

After posting on June 3 about songs I hear on the radio and like by unannounced pop stars, I realized I could Google the lyrics. The singer of the Donna Summer adaptation is someone or group named No Doubt, and the singer of the catchy whiny white hard rock pop anthem "I'm a dick, I'm addicted to you" is famed white rapper Eminem.

Today I heard a super-catchy lively melange pop wonder featuring a woman singing about tasting addictive toxic lips. The percussion track was a livelier, nervouser version of the percussion of "When Doves Cry" by Prince; there were some tasty noisy well-deployed punky electric guitar breaks; and best of all a lot of bittersweetly dissonant Cairo-style strings, probably synth strings. Really good record. Google search of "toxic lyrics" tells me the singer is Britney Spears.

It's usually been a Golden Age for pop music, if by "Golden Age" you mean an era with a few really good songs. Now is like usually.


On May 23 and 26 I wrote negative negative negative things about the classical music criticism of Virgil Thomson. I was wrong. He’s terrific. I picked up A Virgil Thomson Reader from a used book store Monday night, and it’s stuffed with wonderfully lucid and insightful observations of music, particularly live performances of classical music in the early ‘40s, when he wrote many of his daily newspaper reviews. And he’s in love with music and has a great respect for good musicians. He’s frank about his personal preferences and imaginative and sympathetic enough to be able to describe why other people happen to like something he doesn’t. Wonderful stuff.


Nobody I know grew up to be a professional classical musician. The discipline it takes to achieve that depth and breadth of proficiency intimidates me. For all the middle class professional orchestral players, many more people trained to do that and didn’t make it. Getting the gig is a remarkable achievement.

Kyle Gann attended a recent piano recital by composer Terry Riley. Pianists and composers both, Riley and Gann decided against becoming repertory pianists, daunted by the disciplined submission-to-the-score that it requires. Riley improvised some of the recital. Schubert and Beethoven and Mozart and Bach frequently improvised parts of theirs.

Please come play in Seattle, Terry Riley!

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