Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Blossom Dearie, RIP

Oh, MAN. I'm so sorry to hear that one of my all-time favorite singers, Blossom Dearie, has died at the age of 82. I'll post more later, but here she is performing her classic "I'm Hip":

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Lux Interior, RIP

The LA Times music blog reports that Lux Interior, co-founder and lead singer of seminal psychobilly band The Cramps has died at age 60. Full obit here. If you've never heard of the Cramps (indeed, my own knowledge of them extends not much farther than rocking out to a few great singles on various compilations and an appreciation for Poison Ivy's unique fashion stylings), here's a lovely, succinct analysis of why they matter:

The band's lack of a bassist and its antagonistic female guitarist quickly set it apart from its downtown peers and upended the traditional rock band sexual dynamic of the flamboyant, seductive female and the mysterious male guitarist.


The band's influence can be clearly felt among lauded minimalist art-blues bands, including the Black Lips, the White Stripes, the Horrors and Primal Scream, whose front man, Bobby Gillespie, allegedly named his son Lux.
Pitchfork has a nice obit, as well, featuring some great live clips, including their 1984 performance in a mental institution.

Allmusic's analysis is delightful, as well:

[...] the Cramps celebrate all that is dirty and gaudy with a perverse joy that draws in listeners with its fleshy decadence, not unlike an enchanted gingerbread house on the Las Vegas strip.

Allmusic's entry on the Cramps is particularly useful if you're looking to offer some listener's advisory to distraught fans (or to folks who'd never even heard of the Cramps before but are curious about their sound). Check the list of Moods & Genres -- if you click "trashy", for example, you'll be brought to this page, which lists similar moods, trashy albums highlights, and top trashy artists. It's so well organized and so browse-friendly that it's easy to get lost in there, but what a wonderful time you'll have!

Bust out the crushed-velved blazer (in black with blood red piping, please) and black eyeliner, folks, while you put together a display to honor Mr. Interior featuring but by no means limited to:

  • All of your trashiest rock biographies;
  • CDs by Iggy Pop, White Stripes, Elvis, and other artists you find on AllMusic;
  • Movies by John Waters;
  • Maybe some pink flamingos (you know, the ones for putting on one's lawn)?
Other ideas? Put 'em in the comments.

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More Than A Feeling: RIP, Brad Delp

Boston lead singer Brad Delp has died unexpectedly at age 55. Boston is one of those bands whose sound was ubiquitous during my teen years thanks to classic rock radio stations (they're still mainstays of the one classic rock station left in Philly, actually), and no less a rock god than Kurt Cobain saw fit to rip off the churning riff of "More Than A Feeling" for "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Still, I'm sad to say I never knew Delp's name -- or indeed the names of any member of Boston -- until today. Although I heard them everywhere, all the time, they were not the kind of band that inspired slavish fandom in me, and yet, I know every word to their big singles.

I'm sure there are legions of Boston fans who are really & truly gutted by this news (don't get me wrong, I'm saddened, but not to the degree that tears are welling up), and they are the ones we should cater to. Haul out your Boston CDs and display them with his obituary. While you're at it, why not put together a display of CDs by other critically reviled, sometimes geographically named 70s bands of Boston's ilk? Here's a list to get you started:
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Journey
  • Foreigner (okay, now I have "I Want To Know What Love Is" stuck in my head. Gah!)
  • Toto
  • Styx
  • Free
  • Yes
  • Rush (a shout-out to my friends Carlie & Patrick, who don't know each other but who are huge Rush fans, for which I mock them without a shred of pity, but they know I love them, right? And hey, if Stephen Malkmus gives Geddy Lee some love, I guess they can't be all totally unlistenable dreck, she said super-graciously)

I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Commenters, fill in the blanks!

Meanwhile, here's Boston's All Music profile.

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