Favorite Musician Essay

Here is a sampling of lines from the student's essays on their favorite type of music:

 

 

Besides the pleasure music provides to us individually, it also connects the world and is a universal language that can respond to our individual and collective emotions. 

 

Picking my favorite type of music is like choosing a favorite sibling. 

 

To me, the music and lyrics go hand in hand, it is just not the same when her words are read aloud. 

 

Whenever I hear it, I slowly disconnect from the world surrounding me. 

 

I don’t really know where to begin on telling you why I like country music so much, it just kind of soothes the soul, mellows you out and just relaxes you. 

 

Country brings alive a heritage that is slowly being forgotten.  Music is a very important part of my life. 

 

I listen to it all the time and I feel as if it is also my comfort music. 

 

I think the beauty of pop music is that it has the ability to help you “let go” or just forget about any troubles you’re going through.

 

Music is a way to escape and leave my troubles behind for a while. 

 

There is not much that is better than driving around in the summer time, with the windows rolled down, wind blowing in your face, and a good country song blaring on the radio. 

 

I love all types of music. 

 

Their songs have gotten me through some tough times. 

 

It is the perfect heartbreak music, perfect loving life music, perfect love song music, perfect party music, perfect relaxing music; it just does me justice in any moment of my life. 

 

It portrays everything other music is not and has a very wide ranging musical basis. 

 

At the end of the day you can say that I like main stream music or anything that is up to date. 

 

I feel at home when I hear his music. 

 

I love the way music can relate to almost anything in a person’s life. 

 

To finalize my love for music, I will stick with my statement that I happen to love a piece of all types, genres and sounds of music!

Viv Albertine

As Serious as Your Life: John Coltrane and Beyond by Valerie Wilmer (1977)
Blues Legacies and Black Feminism by Angela Davis (1999)

Val Wilmer was an ordinary English white girl born in the 1940s, who fell in love with jazz and wrote about it professionally from the age of 17. This book was written in 1977 and I read it in 1978 when I was a punk, a self-taught musician and a rare female in the music industry – it saved me from giving up. Even though the jazz musicians Wilmer wrote about were mostly male, their approach to music making, their passion and their activism resonated with me and showed me a way to move forward musically with the Slits. Even more striking were Wilmer’s descriptions of the disparity between men and women in all areas of the music industry.

Angela Davis’s book analyses and contextualises the music of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. She documents the impact of the blues on American culture and the part these artists played in the beginnings of feminism during the decades after slavery. The subjects of the songs – domestic violence, prison, multiple relationships, homosexuality – were taboo in middle-class society at the time. This is how passionate, important and political music used to be.

Nicky Wire

Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus (1989)

Some people say that a record or a film changed their life. In my case, it was this book, back in 1990. My hardback copy has a Biro inscription in it: “To Nick love Richey, James and Sean, 28th September 1990”. We’d all read a review in the NME and knew immediately that it was exactly the kind of thing we’d been searching for. Something to link music, art, culture and protest; an alternative history that segued those seemingly disparate elements into one text. It persuaded us that we could attempt to create art that just might deeply resonate with people in the way that the book had resonated with us.

Without resorting to cliche, Lipstick Traces is the band's Holy Bible; our cultural equivalent of the Good Book

The Manic Street Preachers have taken so much from it; we even stole the title for a compilation album. You can hear echoes of it in our early lyrics where we tried to shoehorn the ideals of The Communist Manifesto and thoughts on Lettrism and the vorticists into three-minute songs. It’s a pretty impossible ambition but it seemed slightly more achievable after reading that book. Without resorting completely to cliche, it’s the band’s Holy Bible; our cultural equivalent of the Good Book, if we have one. It’s the one book I will always turn to for inspiration.

Beck

Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley (1994) and Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley (1999), both written by Peter Guralnick

Guralnick’s two-volume biography of Elvis is one of the best written accounts of a musician’s life. It carefully takes the myth of Elvis and puts it into human terms, giving you a sense of the shock of the new. From childhood in Tupelo, Mississippi through his years in Memphis, Hollywood and Las Vegas, the book puts you in the room with Elvis and his family, friends and collaborators. In the early years you are struck by the genuine innocence and good-naturedness he personified – an accessible small-town boy. Fans would line up outside his mother’s kitchen and he would come out to spend time with them after finishing the family dinner. You can see a kid trying to navigate an unformed world, a world we now know as the modern music business. He was self-aware, though, and brought a new vulnerability and disregard to performing.

The first book ends with his mother’s death and his induction into the army, in many ways the beginning of his descent into drugs and isolation. In Hollywood he becomes commodified and put under a kind of artistic house arrest. It is frustrating to read how often his intentions and creative ideas were thwarted. His music had become carefully controlled and the way he had made his great early music was undermined. Later, in the 70s, you get accounts of him gatecrashing the White House and demanding to be made an FBI agent on the spot (Richard Nixon’s henchmen agreed) or starting his Tennessee Karate Institute with outlandish personalised karate uniforms. Though it is impossible for a book to sum up a life, especially one on the scale of Elvis’s, Guralnick’s accounts are ultimately about the impossibility of coming through your wildest dreams unscathed. But it’s more than a cautionary tale: it’s a document of the ways Elvis embodied the childlike and the primal and turned it into a kind of freedom.

James Wood

Hallo Sausages: The Lyrics of Ian Dury, edited by Jemima Dury (2012)

When I want to cheer myself up, I think of Ian Dury – the best lyricist in English music, who fused music hall and funk, the first Cockney rapper. The music is always there and the music is very good, but it’s easy to miss the joyous flow of words when you’re listening to it. That’s where Hallo Sausages: The Lyrics of Ian Dury, edited by his daughter, is sublimely useful. Along with great photographs and a tender memoir, it collects the words for all the songs. So you can actually read “Reasons to Be Cheerful (Part Three)”, and get all the brilliant internal rhymes: “Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy / Being rather silly and porridge oats.” There’s that great exercise in admiration and mockery, “There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards” – people like Einstein and Van Gogh – with its running refrain: “Probably got help from their mum who had help from her mum.” And everyone’s favourite, “Hit me With Your Rhythm Stick” (“Two fat persons, click, click, click”). Who couldn’t love a songwriter who has a song called “Plaistow Patricia”?

Actually, my favourite Dury song is not cheerful, but terribly sad, “You’ll See Glimpses”, which takes the form of a letter written by someone who has been locked up because his mind doesn’t work properly. This letter is utopian: the inmate lists everything he would do to sort out “the problems of the world”. It ends: “This has been got out by a friend.” Go and listen to it – Dury doesn’t sing but reads the words, jauntily. Yet it’s profoundly sad, and seems to me as great a work of art as any novel or short story of the last 40 years.

Kim Gordon

I’m With the Band by Pamela Des Barres (1987)

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