a conversation i had at work the other day:
“if you could only listen to one artist for the rest of your life, who would it be?”
“really, badu? i mean..she doesn’t really have that many albums”
“so? every single note she’s ever released has made a mark on my life, and my life has changed a lot in the fifteen years that her music has been in it, and it seems like hers has too, but it’s still relevant. hers was the greatest live show i’ve ever experienced, i already do listen to her music like it’s the only thing around…”
“yea-but think about it-the rest of your life. i mean, bowie would be mine.”
“ok, but you obviously value quantity over quality, and that’s fine if you’re you, but i’m not. badu. final answer. i’ve been committed.”
and as i ponder my unconventional long-term relationships, i suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that i kind of fail at any of the conventional ones-that’s just the tradeoff, right? but the thing about miz wright the rapper that stays with me is that everything she does manages to sound different yet familiar. that’s what it means to develop a signature, but not get lazy in your artistry. that’s what it means to find a way to get closer to yourself, rather than flail and try new things in hopes that they’ll like you. kevyn aucoin (rip) said something along the lines of “the world adores the original and sees the copy as the shitstain on the drawers of life”. well, imitation gets less sincere as flattery if you’re just reproducing yourself, right?
but going back and reading the first after i read the second cleave is the opposite experience of getting frank after back to black. there are obvious leitmotifs that circle in this man’s head; four year old boys, global response to acts of war, infidelity and matrimonial strife/the breakdown of relationships, what the dead do and do not do, and the nuances of prejudice, but his style is so fresh, so urgent, and his approach is so amazing and original that he accomplishes the exact feat of artistic progress-instant vintage.
i also love that he doesn’t cut his books.
“It was a long afternoon after that and when 5 o’clock came I just put on my anorak and walked home head down in the gloom. In England on a cloudy day in autumn it gets dark by 4 in the afternoon. A few weeks of that Osama and believe me you start to feel like topping yourself. A lot of poor bastards do. I swear to god Osama the English climate’s done in more people than you ever have. If you tried living here for just 10 days in October your Kalashnikov would rust and your sandals would rot and your GP would stick you on Prozac and you couldn’t hate us any more you’d just feel ever so sorry for us instead.” (193)