Heavy Rotation
Peter Terzian, ed.
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Buy *Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives* by Peter Terzian online

Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives
Peter Terzian, editor
HarperPerennial
Paperback
320 pages
June 2009
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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The easiest way to describe Heavy Rotation is to purloin a bit of the author's intro:

"I came up with the idea for the book that you now hold in your hands for selfish reasons - I wanted to bring music and literature together. The truth is that writers love music. A good ear is almost a requirement of the job; the best writing has voice, has rhythm. When writers get together, the first question that they ask each other is 'What have you been working on?' The second is often, 'What have you been listening to?'"
Terzian gathered together 20 writers and asked them each to write an essay on an album that particularly touched and moved them. The writers included here, including Benjamin Kunkel, Sheila Heti, Alice Elliott Dark, Mark Greif, John Haskell, and 15 others, are novelists and staff writers for major periodicals.

The thing is, none of these accomplished writers are necessarily accomplished music writers - or even novice music scribes. Though what they say is well-written, what they say is often not very astute or original. Here is the opening paragraph from Lisa Dierbeck's piece on The Pretenders first album (Dierbeck has written one novel and regularly contributed to Elle, Glamour, and People):

"The song's impact was strikingly physical: a sensation, a blow. I was captivated by the melodic tune and the hammering beat. The lyrics were delivered with an impassioned authority that had me riveted."
In her element, Dierbeck obviously commands a big audience. But reading what she has to say about The Pretenders debut is like wading through high school journalism. "The melodic tune" is a redundancy - the melody of a song is the tune of it; hammering beat is pretty terrible; and using a word like "impassioned" in describing the delivery of a rock lyric is... Well, it's just not very good.

The truth is that maybe if these writers were more well-known, then what they have to say might have more import. How many people care if the Eurythmics' Savage album changed the life of writer Daniel Handler?

An interesting book if not tremendously insightful.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2009

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