Talking Tween

Friday, June 05, 2009


Just as older writers have to be on guard to make sure their references don't alienate young readers, young writers also have to make sure that their references make sense to a wider audience. Sasha Frere-Jones is a music critic who writes online and in the pages of the New Yorker. He says that he explains things differently depending on the medium he's using.

Comments [11]

edgertor from jersey city

Conversely, if you explain too much, you run the risk of the cringe factor: like every single rap story on All Things Considered, the scripts for which seem to be written as if the only listeners are over 70. painful!

Jun. 22 2009 04:38 PM
Jeff Golick from NYC

For those looking to Google the authors mentioned, via this transcript, it might help knowing that it's Pelecanos (not Pelicanos; he's not a Greek bird). Also, less importantly, I think it's Georges, not George, Simenon. But Google probably already told you that...

Jun. 15 2009 01:56 PM
HARVIN from Los Angeles

The vapidity of their chit chat drenched in waves of eager to please laughter (I'd cut off a finger before listening to the audio) with tons of nods and winks leaves this old school son of a bitch tired and sad, longing for Michael Ventura and the eighties.

Jun. 11 2009 05:54 PM
Brad from Chicago


Thanks a lot! I had heard a lot of good things about them, and in fact I am seeing them at Pitchfork. Cool coincidence.

Sorry to everyone--that was relatively off-topic.

Jun. 09 2009 09:03 PM
baconfat from virginia

brad -

i'm pretty sure it's "knife" by grizzly bear. it's on their 2nd record, not the new one that just came out.

Jun. 08 2009 11:04 PM
Elizabeth from New York

Jun. 08 2009 07:12 PM
Elizabeth from New York

This music review reminded me of a budding music/art critic, Dan Tarnowski. Check out his blog: "Cause a rockslide" and get a taste of his fantastic writing. It isn't studded with allusions, though he often makes references to (other) pop artists. Sometimes I don't know the reference, but rather than casting it off as obscure I do take the opportunity to find out about something new and look it up! Art today builds on what has come before, of course, and so why not follow these beautiful trails of inspiration...

Jun. 08 2009 06:53 PM
alex from Brooklyn

I found Mr. Sasha Frere-Jones to have a much more thoughtful an interesting take on this topic than your other guest, Mr. Keyes.

I would add another point in Mr. Frere-Jones defense, however.

There is a sort to consumption of art/music that does not exist for political reporting. If I like a new artist's work, there is wonderful reason to go back to older artists whose work is similar. This is not so true with politics, sports or other current events. The fact that a promise by someone is like one of 40 years ago doesn't help me. But knowing that a song is like the work of an artist's of 30 ago is valuable info in its own right.

Jun. 08 2009 02:09 PM

I thought this article was funny because I read the New Yorker because it is allusion heavy. You have to be well read and knowledgeable to read their book reviews and keep up with them.

I struggle at times, but like Jones said, I look up references on wikipedia, and it expands my references.

Jun. 08 2009 10:33 AM
Brad from Chicago

Can anyone tell me what the last song is on this show? The best I can come up with is that it sounds like the Beach Boys. I am not a music writer...

Jun. 08 2009 10:18 AM
Barbara Dorman from Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Sasha Frere-Jones lamented the laziness of people not wanting to go to the Internet to look up references they might not understand. In so lamenting, he referenced George Simenon, referring to him as a "French dude". It might be time for Mr. Frere-Jones to head to the internet himself: Simenon wrote in French, but he was Belgian by birth. Just FYI!

Jun. 07 2009 05:57 PM

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