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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Softcore phonography
In their marvelous book, Faking it: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music, authors Hugh Barker and Yuval Taylor argue that our arbitrary preferences for certain musical styles over others are rooted in our equally arbitrary convictions about musical "authenticity". The music we like is "real"; the music we dislike is "fake", therefore artistically and perhaps even...
Published on 30 May 2009 by Roochak

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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 1000 Songs To Make The Authors Look Clever
The Time Out writers once again show their penchant for name-dropping and clever references, but fail to give their readers anything with which to identify. Writing about self-consciously obscure material linked by ill-conceived arguments serve only to underline the various contributors' self-importance and lack of respect for the lay reader. Avoid.
Published on 13 Oct 2009 by Ra's dad


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Softcore phonography, 30 May 2009
By 
Roochak - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 1000 Songs to Change Your Life (Time Out Guides) (Paperback)
In their marvelous book, Faking it: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music, authors Hugh Barker and Yuval Taylor argue that our arbitrary preferences for certain musical styles over others are rooted in our equally arbitrary convictions about musical "authenticity". The music we like is "real"; the music we dislike is "fake", therefore artistically and perhaps even morally unworthy of our attention. (The meaning of the word "artificial" has taken a 180 degree turn since the sixteenth century.) It's our instinctive association of "realness" with artistic value that manifests itself in the armed camps we tend to make of the various music fandoms.

The futility of objective judgment in aesthetic matters aside, isn't it possible that our musical distastes stem from a lack of imagination? When we can't imagine what other listeners could possibly enjoy about hip hop, or metal, or opera, or jazz, mightn't that say less about our insight into artistic integrity than it does about our musical parochialism? It's hard to like what's unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar is always suspect.

1000 SONGS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE (yes, the title overstates the case) isn't a consumer guide or a best-of list: it's a collection of 36 new essays about music and its relation to the emotions, to culture, and technology. That is, it's about music as we use it to alter our consciousness in various, not necessarily pharmaceutical, ways. Those uses are endless. Electronic music from Cage to Kraftwerk (the real sound of the city) celebrates not a humanist but a post-humanist aesthetic; techno and gospel provoke ecstatic reactions in listeners high on drugs or religion, respectively; hard rock channels our anger into cathartic release; Schubert's expansive song cycle "Winterreise" anticipates Samuel Beckett's cosmically morose protagonists by a century. Even Barker and Taylor weigh in with a piece on the paradox of great songwriting as unpremeditated art. Why is it that the best pop songs always seem to be the ones that were written in twenty minutes, sometimes when the songwriter was stoned?

The fundamental problem with writing about music is, in the words of Sir Thomas Beecham, that most people "don't really understand music -- they just like the noise it makes." (I've lifted that quotation from Jack Massarik's article on the ABCs of jazz improvisation.) If anything about music is more important than what the listener makes of it, I don't know; but when even listeners who have a wider than average frame of aesthetic reference have little trouble reducing music to sonic wallpaper, then what's the most useful thing someone writing about music can try to do? Perhaps that would be to persuade readers/listeners to engage with music's ways of meaning, assuming that music is something more than a private conversation between musicians, and especially assuming that the writer does more than cherish recordings as commodity fetish-objects, to the exclusion of the music itself.

I'm always on the lookout for a great book about phonography; this is a pretty good one, a modest collection of brief but intelligent conversations between reader and writer. Unlike a consumer guide, the focus here isn't on what to listen to next, but what to make of what we've heard so far.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Out 1000 songs to change your life, 13 Jan 2010
By 
Wendy Hubbard - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 1000 Songs to Change Your Life (Time Out Guides) (Paperback)
This book is a must for a music fan. It takes a topic like travel and then lists the top 10 songs related to that theme. Some you will know and some you don't so you discover new songs as you read.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 1000 Songs To Make The Authors Look Clever, 13 Oct 2009
This review is from: 1000 Songs to Change Your Life (Time Out Guides) (Paperback)
The Time Out writers once again show their penchant for name-dropping and clever references, but fail to give their readers anything with which to identify. Writing about self-consciously obscure material linked by ill-conceived arguments serve only to underline the various contributors' self-importance and lack of respect for the lay reader. Avoid.
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1000 Songs to Change Your Life (Time Out Guides)
1000 Songs to Change Your Life (Time Out Guides) by Time Out Guides Ltd (Paperback - 15 May 2008)
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