Today was one of those rare days where I didn’t have the room for much music. I did teach a very successful class to my freshman comp/pop music students at Stephens: I’d assigned them to read their choice of four (out of nine) professional “personal” essays about music, identify the writers’ arguments and stylistic traits, then establish their own positions. In addition, they had to select an album they enjoyed from The Village Voice‘s year-end music poll and briefly defend it. They spent the hour reporting their thoughts, and it went splendidly. I heard from them on essays about Loretta Lynn (“It doesn’t matter that she’s a Trump supporter), Chris Brown v. Rihanna (“Some women can kick a man’s ass!” v. “Domestic violence shouldn’t be normalized!”), Lana Del Rey v. Radiohead (“She put enough of her brand on it that the similarities are irrelevant!”), and one on Lady Gaga that they thought was most notable due to writer Mary Gaitskill’s esoteric approach. The makers of the albums from 2017 that they loved? Kendrick (no surprise), Harry Styles (no surprise), SZA (not really a surprise), Lee Ann Womack (cool!), Jason Isbell (hey!). Next class they have to listen to and post commentary on a record from the poll they’ve never heard before. That should be pretty exciting. I’ve assigned myself The War on Drugs–just kidding.
Otherwise, I had essays to grade, an injured dog to attend to (corneal ulcer, freshly removed cyst), and a spouse to nurse (bad stomach and headache) and chill watching Broadchurch with. Plus, I had to change out the straw in our outdoor cats’ huts. Worked up a sweat!
Aside from continuing to mourn Mark E. Smith (heavy dose of The Fall before work, no pints later as I am practicing “Dry January”–I can hear Mark laughing from beyond the grave), I was able to revisit Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Linx II. A worthy sequel? Yeah. I mean, there are multiple producers (including Dr. Dre and J Dilla) but it still sounds Wu-ish; the subject matter certainly conforms, including one very heinous oral sex scenario that I cannot unhear; and, though Raekwon is in fine form, Ghost and Meth pretty much steal the show. The one track the sticks with me is a Dilla-produced tribute to ODB, “Ason Jones,” which is genuinely moving. So, maybe no, if only one track is still sticking this morning. I am a sucker for Wu atmospherics, Ghost’s “crying” delivery, and the flying daggers of flow, accent, and vocab that result from a Clan collab.