Cultural Consumption: 4/4/24

One of these days, the days will not be so packed

Cultural Consumption: 4/4/24
Now dance, Rummy

Once again, my brothers and sisters, I find myself confronting a blank page at the end of an exhausting day — in this case, one that started spiraling away from me not long after dawn. I was also without wifi for a solid chunk of the day, which had a very non-positive effect on my listening time. ANYWAY, you aren't here to read my bitching; let's just forget all that ever happened and say today's post will have no overarching theme and no major goal other than relaying the stuff that's been going into my pop culture gullet lately.

Listening: As I mentioned yesterday, I've been working my way through the 10cc and 10cc-affiliated discography this week. Mayor Matt Wardlaw questioned this decision, wanting to know what made me decide to take the plunge, and I'm honestly not sure; if I had to guess, I'd say the algorithm barfed up a 10cc track at some point, and that was enough to remind me that I've never really spent much time with these guys. This is an oversight on my part, because I do appreciate musos with a warped sense of humor and a gift for melody — I think I probably got it in my head at some point that "I'm Not in Love" and "The Things We Do for Love" were easily digestible outliers in a relatively knotty catalog and stayed away.

That impression isn't all that far off, honestly, although I mean that as a compliment. One of the things I really appreciated while trucking through the 10cc discography was that I genuinely had no idea what to expect from record to record, even after pop-adjacent pranksters Godley and Creme departed the lineup. Some of it sounds like corporate rock; some of it sounds like missives beamed from an alien planet. It's all over the place, and I admire the hell out of that.

To a point, anyway. After wrapping up 10cc's studio albums (or as many as are streaming, anyway — 1995's Mirror Mirror isn't available, which is probably fine, since it was a 10cc record in name only), I moved on to the Godley & Creme catalog, and I think I was three records deep before I heard anything I'd be willing to identify as a song. I have since moved on to Wax UK, which probably represents the pendulum swinging too far in the other direction; by the late '80s, it seems pretty clear that 10cc vet Graham Gouldman had tired of being a cult favorite and was interested in recording smash hits, and decided putting together a duo with Andrew Gold was just the ticket. I'm not done listening yet, but so far, the first two records strike me pretty much the same way they did when I first heard them in the late '90s: A handful of very bright highlights scattered across a whole bunch of synthy pop dross. I'm not done yet, but here's the playlist in progress:

Watching: The featured image on this post says it all. As with the 10cc/etc. playlist, I'm not finished yet, but I've spent a fair bit of time watching the Steve Martin documentary this week. Directed by Morgan Neville, STEVE! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces is a sprawling overview of Martin's life and career that is, per its title, split between the "Then" and "Now" of its subject's time on Earth. Per documentary tradition, the first half starts with his childhood before moving into the early part of his career, up to the point he achieved massive worldwide success as a standup comic and decided to walk away from it. The second half skips ahead to the present day, presumably before rewinding a bit to walk viewers through Martin's shift from wild and crazy guy to pleasantly unpredictable auteur.

I've only just started the "Now" half, so I can't really give you a review, but what really strikes me thus far is Martin's willingness/need to keep exploring, regardless of the potential consequences to his career. After conquering standup, he branched out into dramatic acting, writing, cartooning — and then there's his lifelong relationship with the banjo. Just a fascinating guy, and a model for anyone who's interested in continuing to grow well past the age when a lot of us assume we've picked up all the new skills we'll ever learn. Entertaining, absorbing, and if you're anything like me, somewhat inspirational.

Reading: I finally made my way through the collected works of Flannery O'Connor and have since started reading the recently released The Blues Brothers: An Epic Friendship, The Rise of Improv, and the Making of an American Film Classic. That's one hell of a title, and given that I haven't finished the book, I can't tell you whether the book lives up to it; what I can tell you so far is that this is an extremely readable look back at the early lives and careers of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. I don't consider myself a hardcore Saturday Night Live fan and I've watched the Blues Brothers movie maybe twice, but I'm still enjoying this. (So far.)

Elsewhere: My latest General Hospital column is up at Diagnosis Daytime, and there's also a new episode of the Record Player Podcast up for your enjoyment — this time with the Reverend Shawn Amos, who talked to us about his new album Soul Brother No. 1 as well as the classic Johnny "Guitar" Watson album Ain't That a Bitch.

Around the Corner: I'll have a New Music Friday post for paid subscribers tomorrow, followed by a new Bootleg City post on Saturday. If you're still only getting access to free posts, what are you waiting for? Gimme your $50 a year. And if there's anything you want to see less or more of here, let me know in the comments.