Best Music Writing 2009 (Da Capo Best Music Writing)

Best song Writing has faithfully gathered the year’s so much compelling writing on song for a decade now, so it’s acceptable this specific variation be guest-edited by way of one of many best-known writers on track and pop culture, Greil Marcus, writer of Lipstick Traces, Mystery Train, Like a Rolling Stone, and different groundbreaking tours into the very cloth of track, the US, and past. As regularly, sequence Editor Daphne Carr has culled an impressively wide variety of essays, profiles, information articles, interviews, inventive non-fiction, fiction, e-book studies, long-format studies, weblog posts, and magazine articles on song and song tradition, from rock and hip-hop to R&B and jazz to pop, blues, and extra.

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Both seek to deconstruct the legend of the “Delta bluesman,” with his crossroads and hellhounds and death by poison, his primal expression of existential isolation. Both end up complicating that picture instead. Wald’s book takes away the legend of Robert Johnson’s “inexplicable” technical ability, for which, rivals whispered, he sold his soul, and gives us instead Johnson the self-aware craftsman and student of other people’s records, including those of Skip James, from whom Johnson lifted the beautiful phrase “dry long so,” meaning indifferently, or for the hell of it.

There’s a red thread that runs from 1973 through 1979’s conservative counterrevolution. The thread runs through to 1989, year of the “Washington Consensus,” when the collapse of the Second World briefly promises a respite from the narrative of decline. S. shores with the collapse of Long Term Capital Management, a hedge fund so heavy that it has to be bailed out to stem the global crisis, or so we’re told. Long Term Capital Management was founded by the guys who developed the mathematical model that made the trading of non-stuff a viable and lucrative market.

But somewhere between the third and fourth measure of the first bar, the second banjo pulls 0306817823-Marcus_Layout 1 8/17/09 12:55 PM Page 43 John Jeremiah Sullivan 43 up, as if with a halt leg, and begins putting forward a drone on top of the first, which twangs away for a second as if it hadn’t been warned about the imminent mood change. Then the instruments grind down together, the key swerves minor, and without your being able to pinpoint what happened or when, you find yourself in a totally different, darker sphere.

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