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"He was… in so many ways was unfit to live in the world. He had a very difficult time in the world, but completely submerged himself in art. He honestly seemed happy in that balance. It’s like he created his own world outside of the normal world, and lived there, I think, happily."
— Music producer and co-founder of Def Jam Records Rick Rubin remembers hip-hop video director Ric Menello: http://nyr.kr/165BT5b
This week, Rand Paul and his Republican colleagues staged a thirteen-hour filibuster against John Brennan’s nomination as C.I.A. director. It involved a tremendous amount of talking, some of which was also reading. Here are some songs about talking: http://nyr.kr/12xxlXa
Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrated today, has been celebrated repeatedly in song. Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday,” a straightforward tribute released in 1981, was instrumental in helping to establish the national holiday commemorating King’s birth. U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love),” one of the band’s earliest and most enduring anthems, was written after Bono read Stephen B. Oates’s King biography “Let The Trumpet Sound.” And “Abraham, Martin, and John,” written by Dick Holler and originally recorded by Dion, looks at the string of assassinations that defined America in the sixties; it has since been covered by dozens of artists, including Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and even Leonard Nimoy. But there are other, lesser-known songs about King.
Wire is functional for me; I use their music at least once a week. On the critical side, I can assert that the three-album stretch that begins in 1977, with “Pink Flag,” and ends (not the band, just the period) in 1979, with “154,” is one of the most impressive and expansive runs that rock has ever seen. Those three albums include songs as short as voice mails and noisy as auto-body shops, as well as smeared, floating music as harmonically delicate as any pop recorded in the state of California. Wire made it their business to ignore the byways of every cohort they almost joined (punk, New Wave, old punk, old New Wave) and rumpus through the noisy and pretty aisles as they saw fit. If art-pop is a thing (probable) and the Beatles invented it (pretty sure), then Wire did it better and faster than anybody, the Beatles included (a stretch, but it feels true much of the time).
But the music of Wire has not shown up recently in commercials or T.V. shows, or as samples in Rihanna in songs. The band has a small profile in current pop culture, so credit the power of their material and the efficiency of the Internet when viewing the Wire Tribute Videos made by Sara Poirier. How else would they come to be? We asked, via e-mail.
- Sasha Frere-Jones writes about Wire and interviews Sara Poirier, the fifteen-year-old superfan who makes music videos like the one above: http://nyr.kr/AhkoiP