Friday, May 09, 2008

Da Capo's Best Music Writing 2007

I suppose a good deal of the success of any one of these yearly "Best Music/Sports/Political/Food/Business Writing anthologies, and there are many, is due in good part to whoever happens to be editing it that particular year. So, after neglecting it the past several years, I was pretty happy to pick up Da Capo's Best Music Writing 2007 on the strength of seeing Robert Christgau in the guest editor chair. I've always enjoyed reading Christgau's music criticism, especially his expansive, championing coverage of Afropop. And as a nice bonus, Christgau "as the only full-time rock critic, experienced music editor, or that matter professional journalist ever to assemble one these books," as he's right to point out in his introduction, had "something to prove and only one way to prove it." He wanted the anthology to include representatives of the best music writing of the year. And having read at least three of this anthologies predecessors, it's definitely been the most consistently enjoyable.

Halfway through, two pieces have really stuck out- Jonothan Letham's astounding summation of James Brown and his gift of funk, Being James Brown, and Erik Davis's Always Coming Home: Joanna Newsom, a beautiful account of the making of Newsom's sophomore album, Ys. I'm about midway through Elisabeth's Vincentelli's affectionate, personal essay on the long running chessefest Eurovision Song Contest, Bulgarian Idol, which has inevitably leads me, out of garish curiosity, to YouTube.

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