Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Inner Music Nerd

I know a lot of guys who are into music.  I know a lot of guys who are in bands.  Not so many girls, in my limited experience. That's why I am so glad we have books in the system such as: Record Collecting for Girls: Unleashing Your Inner Music Nerd, One Album at a Time by Courtney E. Smith; Cinderella's Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground by Maria Raha; Girls Rock!: Fifty Years of Women Making Music by Mina Carson et al.; & The Girls' Guide to Rocking: How to Start a Band, Book Gigs, and Get Rolling to Rock Stardom by Jessica Hopper.

I have been thinking about women in music a lot lately, since I saw the inspiring movie Girls Rock!  a few years ago, about Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls.  (The camp that started it all is in Portland, OR, but there are now camps all over the U.S., in Canada, & in the U.K.) So, when I read the Library Journal article Music for the Masses: Q & A with Courtney E. Smith, the author of the latest of the books listed above, Record Collecting for Girls, I knew I had to check it out.

I have not been disappointed!  Courtney Smith's book starts out with a reference to one of my favorite books/movies, High Fidelity, & "the art of the Top Five List"-because, as Nick Hornby's book declares, for lots of music snobs, "what you like is what you're like". Smith offers hints to creating your own Top Five lists-her example is her Top Five artists. Always a fun time-waster.

Smith then moves on to covering topics such as "Where Have All the Girl Bands Gone?", a little slice of musical history; music blogs & sites like; movie soundtracks; "Guilty Pleasures" (every music snob has them);  break-up songs mirroring the stages of grief; from Madonna to Lady Gaga & M.I.A.; rock 'n' roll consorts; and possibly my favorite chapter in the whole book, "The Smiths Syndrome", with its classic advice, "Never date a guy who likes the Smiths too who are afflicted by the Smiths Syndrome tend to embody [Morrissey's] angst in an unfortunate way".

There is also a short chapter on actual record collecting, which features a discussion on "it isn't just the format of available music that have changed-everything about the way we listen to and consume music has changed as well." Do you need to own a physical copy of an album?  Does that make you a traditionalist? What makes listening to music on vinyl special? The only thing I thought this section lacked was a discussion of alternate audio file formats-I know there's more than MP3s out there, but that's what I hear about most.

Record Collecting for Girls is an informal & anecdotal look into the world of music by women (although it's "for girls", I think those born in the '80s or later might miss some of the references). I hope it will join the ranks of Songbook, Love is a Mix Tape, But Enough about Me, Fargo Rock CityRock and Roll Will Save Your Life & other books that, aimed at music geeks like myself, seem to make music a character in their story.

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