Monday, August 31, 2009

A Cycle Skipped?

There are certain books and writers that should be read while you're young - Hunter Thompson, Jack Kerouac, Bukowski, to name a few. After reading all the canonical stuff high school asks you to read, some outlaw lit's a pretty valuable thing. Unfortunately, once you pass your undergrad years, the outlaw stance seems a little wobbly. I eventually developed a new appreciation for Thompson and Lester Bangs, but I now find the Beats and Buk hard to stomach. Still, someone had to tell readers that you don't always have to mind your manners, and that there's a bigger, grittier literary world than you found in Henry James.

Another artist I thought you had to deal with while you're young is Lou Reed, but unlike the literary rebels, I can't think of anyone who's picked up his subject matter. Is anyone writing songs about the romance of our darker impulses? Is it possible that you still can't sing about your mixed feeling about addiction, self-destructive love and the wild side? And if someone is doing it, is that person doing it in undeniable pop forms like Reed?

(Thoughts after listening to the epic, weirdly Vegas version of "Heroin" on Rock & Roll Animal yesterday.)


Alex V. Cook said...

I thought Lloyd Cole always did that sort of thing rather well, talking cocaine and lost weekends over spot-on well-heeled alt-rock. The eels guy too, about mental illness and depression, though I find his arrangements a little too precious most of the time.

Maybe Pete Doherty will get confessional one of these days and lay it out for us.

Alex Rawls said...

Yes, but Lloyd's almost as old as Lou. We've got to go younger than that. Pete's a good hope.