Trying To Get To You

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Liz Phair on Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500 & Luna)

Liz Phair writes an excellent review of Dean Wareham's (Luna & Galaxie 500) new memoir of his life in music, “Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance” in tomorrow's New York Times Book Review. I haven't read the book yet, but after reading this review, I will be sure to.

Luna were on Elektra when I worked there in the early to mid 90's, and they were one of my favorite bands on the roster. Their second album, Bewitched, is a wonderful album, a collection of great songs, that while obviously indebted to the Velvet Underground, stand up incredibly well with the passage of fourteen years. And their third album, Penthouse, has my favorite Luna song ever, the utterly sublime "Chinatown," which encapsulates in song what I imagine Wareham sums up in his book; the life of the downtown New York demimonde, 90's style. Live, they were pretty good, but not even approaching great - they were way too emotionally distant from their audience to connect on a truly powerful level.

Phair's review mentions the emotional detachment found in Wareham's writing. It's a detachment that I remember well from Luna's music and it's the most likely culprit for Luna's inability to break to a wider audience. Ironic self-consciousness and emotional detachment may earn a lot of points in indie circles, but they don't play well to a broad audience. In retrospect, it seems incredible that a band like Luna was ever even on a major label, but in the post-Nirvana early 90's, a lot of things seemed possible.

And I can't wait to read the parts about Terry Tolkin.

4 comments:

Randy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Dunbar said...

Well, I've only read an excerpt but I give Dean credit for bravery in writing his memoir. As far as Luna's legacy goes, I have to disagree with Randy's comments (and Ben's too). I've seen some amazing Luna shows over the years. And Luna's been in lots of films. Maybe not on the soundtrack albums but then the soundtrack compilation cd is a dying breed anyway. Of course, take my comments with a grain of salt because Dean's a friend. But I will say this, Dean has worked on lots of projects with me and he's always delivered the goods.

Randy said...

Jim - respect to you and your thoughts on luna. I deleted my earlier comment because it was poorly worded. I will definitely read Dean's book because I am 100% curious.

greg said...

I read an excerpt online about when his marriage fell apart. It was a bit detached but brutally honest. That and it hit close to home for me, some of the things he went through.

Having said that, I like Luna a lot, always have. Dean & Britta too, though they just miss the mark for me. Not sure exactly what it is, but I like what they're trying to do but somehow wish it had more umph or something else, only because they're great together.

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