To close out Cat Power Appreciation Week on the Hobart blog, and to continue our discussion of writing and popular music, here is a link to a New Yorker podcast with Paul Muldoon, the magazine's poetry editor and a professor of English at Princeton. Muldoon talks about the convergent roles of writers and readers and says that one hallmark of any decent piece of writing is that it becomes clear by the end of the piece that the writer did not know, at the beginning, exactly where he or she would end up.
(That's certainly a quality of most of my posts on this blog. Whether that makes them great achievements in writing is another question.)
Muldoon also describes the enduring popularity of the aaba poetic shape of rock songs(verse chorus, verse chorus, bridge, verse chorus), and reports that for his money the most clever wordplay in contemporary music can
be found in the hip-hop and country aisles. (This makes me want to mention the Tupac song "Changes," which isn't
available on Itunes but is
downloadable from Amazon, and is worth checking out if you've never
heard it, not because it is clever, necessarily, although it is, but because it is powerful.)
The greatest surprise in the interview is Muldoon's revelation that, in yet another sideline, he plays rhythm guitar in, and writes the lyrics for, the garage band Rackett, which plays around New York and New Jersey.
Which makes me think that someone ought to put Billy Collins' poetry to music. Wouldn't Collins' poetry, which is accessible, simple, but also whimsical and clever, be perfect for a rock song? Why has no one tried to do this?
Like we said above, we didn't know exactly where we were going, but here we are. If anyone has ever put a Billy Collins poem to music, by all means let us know.
(cartoon image of Rackett taken from the band's website www.rackett.org)