Today, in one of those interesting coincidences that occasionally come along, I have two book-and-music pairings to share. One has to do with Banned Books Week, and the other pertains to an album that’s just out.
We’ll start with Banned Books Week. Last night, my husband and I attended an ACLU-sponsored banned books beading in our new city. Six readers, including two actors, a cartoonist, a storyteller, and a puppeteer, each selected a banned book or excerpt to read. We heard two children’s books (one of which was And Tango Makes Three!), two poems, and an excerpt from a play. All the readers were excellent, introducing their chosen piece by explaining why they chose it and why it’s been banned or challenged. Listening to people read the stories close to their hearts out loud was a really cool experience.
If, at this point, you are wondering where the music part comes in, I shall tell you. In addition to the banned books reading, the program included four mini banned song sing-alongs, where we all sang bits of banned or challenged songs (or songs by banned or challenged artists) while the lyrics were projected onto a giant screen, complete with a bouncing ball to guide us. It was like, during their moment in the spotlight, all the banned books reached out and pulled their counterparts from another genre up on stage to share the attention.
I hadn’t realized there were so many banned or challenged songs and artists out there! And the reasons people have objected to them are just as silly as the offenses made by books. Some examples, taken from the evening’s program (which featured 38 songs):
- “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison: Stations didn’t like the lyric “makin’ love in the green grass,” which was replaced.
- “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin: WCBS in New York City banned it after one teen stabbed two others to death.
- “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver: People worried that the word “high” might be a drug allusion.
- “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen (here I will quote from the ACLU’s event program, because it’s just so darn ridiculous): “The FBI launched an inquiry into supposed but non-existent obscenity in the lyrics, which ended without prosecution. Indiana Governor Matthew Welsh tried to ban the song statewide. An FCC review determined the song indecipherable.”
So there you go. A banned book reading plus banned song sing-along. Oh and a free “I read banned books” button and Bill of Rights bookmark. Awesome.
My other books plus music news, and the cause of much excitement on my end, is that today is the release of the new album “Lonely Avenue,” a collaboration between Ben Folds and Nick Hornby. Wheee!
I’m not really a music person. I enjoy music, but I’m not passionate about it the way I am about books. I’d rather buy some new paperbacks than shell out the cash for a concert ticket.
The one exception, though, is Ben Folds. I discovered him in college and have seen him in concert multiple times since. It’s not so much that I love everything he does, because I don’t. But I respect him. In addition to being an amazingly talented pianist, every new project he undertakes is unique and creative. After Ben Folds Five (remember “Brick?”) broke up, Ben Folds did a couple of EPs, a few solo albums, a CD of college a cappella groups performing their own arrangements of his songs, and a tour on which various cities’ orchestras backed him up. Now, with this newest album, Ben Folds composed music to accompany lyrics by British writer Nick Hornby. How cool is that?
Nick Hornby is an author I’ve known about for quite some time, though I’ve only recently gotten around to reading his work. I listened to the audiobook of his novel, Slam, which I enjoyed. Then I read The Polysyllabic Spree, and I was hooked. He is so witty and intelligent and…British. His other nonfiction is on my TBR-ASAP list, after which I’ll be moving on to his novels. In addition to writing the lyrics for “Lonely Avenue”, he also wrote four new short stories as part of the “Lonely Avenue” pre-order packages.
I’m off to listen to “Lonely Avenue.” Do you have any book-and-music pairings you’d like to share?