Sunday, February 22, 2009

Musical and literary update

I've been listening lately to Amy Rigby (among lots of other things), having come across reviews of her new album with Wreckless Eric, which I still don't have (though it's attractively priced as an Amazon mp3 download). Sampling her older stuff, initially I had to get past the fact that stylistically it really isn't anything new - Dylan '66/Byrds folk-rock and late-70s powerpop are among the obvious influences. But she's a great songwriter, witty and acid with a great voice (by which I don't mean her singing voice, although that's very good too). She's in the singer-songwriter genre, but is much less confessional than a portraitist giving a kaleidoscopic view of a demographic (woman in late 20s through 40s dealing with everything internal and external). Radically changing mood and outlook from one track to the next.

Reading for pleasure isn't always easy during a semester, what with the weekly demands of classes, faculty obligations, presentations and conferences, etcetera, but I've just finished, and greatly enjoyed, the Arthur Schlesinger diaries. If you know a fair amount about (and are interested in) the U.S. political scene from the 1950s through the end of the twentieth century, the diaries offer a really engaging inside look, intimate with and opinionated about lots of the big players, and freshened by the lack of foreshadowing since Schlesinger the diarist (unlike a historian writing after the fact) couldn't tell what was going to happen next.

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