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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

When Good Writers Go Bad

posted by on September 12 at 13:41 PM

It’s been a jarring week for me, in regard to favorite writers.

First there was Graduation, on which my beloved Kanye West rhymes “Gnarls Barkley” with—wait for it—”Charles Barkley.”

Then The New Yorker published this poem by my even more beloved Joni Mitchell.

What next, Gore Vidal writing the season opener of According to Jim?

(Regarding the failures of Kanye and Joni: I shall now go listen to Late Registration and For the Roses to put these stumbles in perspective.)

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Joni Mitchell makes my dick hard. Growl!

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 12, 2007 1:56 PM

UGH! That poem was worse than the melancholy garabage produced by broken hearted whining co-eds that ever crossed my desk as the editor of a college literary magazine. I can usually tolerate literature that is less than stellar but bad poetry aggravates me.

Posted by NELBOT | September 12, 2007 1:59 PM

Kanye is a clumsy lyricist, and has been since before he produced his way to the top. Don't get me wrong, I like his music, but I have to roll my eyes every time I pay attention to his vapid and self-loving/hating lyrics.

Posted by Carollani | September 12, 2007 2:01 PM

I think Kanye's capable of singular moments of lyrical brilliance, which are all over the first two records.

Posted by David Schmader | September 12, 2007 2:03 PM

I agree, but it's not consistent enough to keep me all that interested.

Posted by Carollani | September 12, 2007 2:06 PM

Dave, imagine Joni circa 1970 actually *singing* those lyrics...would it still make you wretch? Methinks you'd be more forgiving...

Posted by caroline | September 12, 2007 2:14 PM

kayne's opinion of himself is much higher than anyone else's.

Posted by maxsolomon | September 12, 2007 2:15 PM

Yeah, @6, the poem reads terribly, but I can imagine her singing it and it maybe coming off ok. It should not have been put down in print though.

Posted by Jude Fawley | September 12, 2007 2:17 PM

#7: Yeah, I think his ego leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Posted by Carollani | September 12, 2007 2:20 PM

Re: 7 & 9: Totally, and it leaves fans like me very little room to be on his side, or root for him. He's doing it so effusively for himself by himself he doesn't need anyone else.

At least Muhammed Ali was a dazzlingly hilarious egotistical prick superman.

(Too bad, because I think Kanye's a world-historic talent...)

Posted by David Schmader | September 12, 2007 2:23 PM

Seems every musician I consider brilliant has at least a few hideously bad lyrics. Sometimes entire songs. I think to make great art you need the confidence to not question yourself too closely, and that can result in some serious boners too.
Also, some crappy lyricists are so bad they're good. Trent Reznor's entire career is built on high school poetry. But it's such a universal (and childish) feeling he describes that it's hard not to relate and/or dig, from time to time.
Speaking of crappy lyrics, my crappy writing is killing me. I end this now. Laters all.

Posted by christopher | September 12, 2007 2:24 PM

Oh I know which Joni album to buy next.

Joni's does seem more like lyrics than a poem. I am trying to imagine her singing it.

Posted by Impossible Prince | September 12, 2007 2:27 PM

I smell a collaberation, but who will feature who?

Posted by of course | September 12, 2007 2:31 PM

Ah, thought of another so-bad-it's-good artist: ODB! Old Dirty had plenty of misses, but his stuff from Enter the Wu-tang can't be beat. It's also totally fucking retarded.

Posted by christopher | September 12, 2007 2:32 PM

#11: Word.

BUT, it seems like Kanye thinks he can wipe his ass on a track and it'll go platinum. I mean, at least try to be good mayne!

Posted by Carollani | September 12, 2007 2:34 PM

kanye west has some of the most embarassingly bad lyrics in contemporary hip-hop, which is saying quite a mouthful. his production acumen is his single saving grace.

Posted by brandon | September 12, 2007 2:39 PM

In Vidal's recently published last installment of his memoirs he mentions that his long-time editor died in '06 and boy was it ever apparent. Reading that book was like watching the slow death of a lion.

Posted by inkweary | September 12, 2007 2:53 PM

That Joni poem sounds cobbled together from several of the worst songs on her last two or three albums (plus her old number "Paprika Plains"). But I do kind of like the repeated line, "Bad Dreams are good/In the Great Plan."

Posted by David | September 12, 2007 2:54 PM

Kanye West can suck my balls.

Posted by monkey | September 12, 2007 2:56 PM

Apparently the New Yorker poem is actually a song from Joni's new album coming out in a couple of weeks:

Posted by David | September 12, 2007 3:18 PM

Only Jewel is allowed to publish lyrics as poetry.

Posted by Katelyn | September 12, 2007 3:24 PM

Hahaha, I loved Jewel's awesomely bad poetry/lyrics when I was a starry eyed adolescent girl. I think I still have the book lying around somewhere.

Posted by Carollani | September 12, 2007 3:49 PM

I am a woman of heart and mind with time on my hands, no child to raise, but the blond in the bleachers, she flips her hair for you, above the loudspeakers you start to fall.

Oh well, it's the judgment of the moon and the stars - your solitary path.

Posted by Bauhaus | September 12, 2007 4:15 PM

Joni's new CD is out Oct 2, I believe.

And has anyone heard Annie Lennox's new one, "Dark Road?" The vid is available on youtube.

Joni and Annie both seem to be espousing a dark future.

Posted by Bauhaus | September 12, 2007 4:21 PM

You realize Kanye had ghostwriters working for him on his first two albums, right?

Posted by Joseph | September 13, 2007 10:26 AM

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