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July 30, 2009 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Poet and poetry/film/music/culture critic Joshua Clover has been posting excerpts from his upcoming book 1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About over at his blog.

These are short, articulate lyric essays on the entwined fates of the pop music and history of (and around) the year 1989. To find the excerpts on the blog, look for the book's black, white, and yellow cover image as you scroll down (although all of his posts are worth a read). Here are a few of my favorites, if you're looking for a place to start:

Jesus Jones, from the book's intro, which poses this question: "Having turned its 200-second attentions on a fairly regular basis to politics, to social change, to revolution, what does pop music do when confronted with an overwhelming surfeit of same?"

Sinead O'Connor and "Nothing Compares 2 U"

Public Enemy's multi-faceted approach

Grunge, shame, and the word "creep"
posted by sleevener (8 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Cool -- I've been giving a lot of thought to this year lately (to do with a writing project of my own, though mine's fiction), and I was briefly concerned that my conviction that '89 = a cultural year both awesome and crucial was just my perspective (i.e., that it was an awesome and crucial year in my life). Since Clover's like eleven years older than me, I'm not terribly worried I'll learn that he also ran away from home and got laid for the first time that summer, so I hereby declare my misgivings invalid, and resolve to buy this.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:09 PM on July 30, 2009

I've been really enjoying these. It'll be a fascinating book.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:15 PM on July 30, 2009

A youtube reference supplement:

Jesus Jones
Sinead O'Connor
Public Enemy (playlist)
posted by sleevener at 4:06 PM on July 30, 2009

I hadn't kept up with Clover's writings lately, which is a shame because he was pretty much the best English teacher I had at the university level. He is smart and engaging and funny and never made me feel like an asshole, so thumbs up for people skills, too. Thanks for posting this link, sleevener!
posted by Skrubly at 5:49 PM on July 30, 2009

1989. Damn.

Thanks for this.
posted by rtha at 6:15 PM on July 30, 2009

posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:04 AM on July 31, 2009

I've heard Joshua is a really swell guy, but passages like this make me think I'll pass:

"Forever T.S. Eliot to Nirvana’s Ezra Pound, Pearl Jam was burdened with the unannounced (and surely unintended) task of opening grunge to a still-broader audience — an effect achieved through the subtraction of bodily disgust and explicit sexual violence, as well as a smoothing of the guitar attack (in a way oddly redolent of classic rock and even the glam metal that grunge had overthrown)."

Yeesh. No thank you.
posted by bardic at 2:40 AM on July 31, 2009

Thanks for posting this; I've been a huge fan of Joshua Clover's writing since I stumbled across his five paragraph essay about Britney Spears.
posted by hot soup girl at 11:55 AM on August 1, 2009

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