Episode 126: The Professor and the Librarian

Matt and Ryan listen to and discuss Elvis Costello’s “This Year’s Model.”

Matt and Ryan listen to and discuss Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model


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5 Comments on “Episode 126: The Professor and the Librarian”

  1. Stokes OTI Staff #

    So, on the folk vs. art thing… I think you’re basically right, but there are two reactions that I wanted to get off my chest.

    First, don’t we have to think of these terms as mutually constitutive? If you’re one of the people from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, you don’t think of your music as folk music, or even as “our music.” You just think of it as music, because it’s all you know. This kind of speaks to the inside the circle / outside the circle thing you were talking about later on. I *don’t* think you can be punk without drawing the circle yourself at least a little bit. You couldn’t be punk without knowing that you’re punk. It’s not just anarchy, it’s anarchy-in-opposition-to. If I ask you why you just play three chords, the answer can’t be “I wrote the song by consulted the I Ching and a random number generator; this is just what came out.” It has to be “because bollocks to Maggie Thatcher, that’s why!”

    Also, you listed two traits of folk — no known composer, no authoritative version. While I think these are generally accurate, if you look at a LOT of different kinds of music I think they turn out to be independent variables (and both are on a sliding scale). So in Irish folk music, for instance, there are a lot of anonymous songs, but there’s also a whole bunch of songs by the 17th-18th century harpist Turlough O’Carolan that are part of the repertoire. People know that these are by O’Carolan, but as far as I can tell they don’t play them any more or less faithfully than they do the anonymous songs. On the other hand, some music has an authentic version but no known author. You get this in a lot of traditional religious music, for instance. You always need something to be the… warden? seal? … of the music’s authenticity, but that doesn’t have to be an author.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      That’s a really interesting point: “no known author” doesn’t mean “no known authority.”


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Also, isn’t not knowing that you are punk actually the most punk thing ever?


      • Chris Morgan #

        The most punk thing would be to deny the construct of punk as an ethos.


      • Stokes OTI Staff #

        I go back and forth on that. Sometimes I think this is obviously right — like how it’s cool not to care about being cool, or beautiful not to knoooow-oh-oh that you’re beautiful. But sometimes I also think that Punk is a different case, because it has to be a willful defiance of authority. Or actually, no, it’s more than that: it is defining yourself as one-who-defies-authority. Because punk is something you are, not something you occasionally do, right?

        I guess maybe it would be more punk to be punk without knowing that there are any other punks? But then when you look at the actual phenomenon of punk, it turns out that a sense of belonging/community/family is a huge part of it. So it’s hard. (Maybe it’s one of them dialectic thingamajobbers.)


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