I haven’t yet read most of the entries to items selected for the Best Music Writing 2008 Honorable Mentions list by series editor Daphne Carr that I’m linking to here or in the accompanying posts. (This year’s guest editor is Nelson George.) But I have looked at a couple and one in this group caught my eye especially. David Hajdu’s write-up of a Mos Def concert–part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series–is actually less worthwhile for his ruminations on Mos Def himself, which are smart, than for his extensive, abundantly clear digression into the formation of the Great American Songbook as a canon. It’s a razor-sharp piece anyone interested in pop-song history will find worthwhile.
Every year those of us who read about music compulsively, whatever our professional standing, await Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthology because we want to read good pieces we might have missed the year before. And those of us who do write about music await it to see if we made the Honorable Mention slot. It’s one thing to be in the actual book–you’re informed well ahead of time. But Honorable Mention gives you hope, because the writers usually don’t know until after they’ve received their galleys (because they’re at least ostensibly going to review it), so it’s a nice surprise when it happens.
This year it happened to 50 people. And we’ve tracked down 40 of the pieces that were named. Below, the first of four posts today with links to the runners-up. Congratulations to all, and enjoy.
And now, our final presentation of the Honorable Mention essays from the back of the forthcoming Da Capo anthology Best Music Writing 2008. I was surprised not to find anything about the Gene Weingarten piece on Joshua Bell busking in the D.C. Metro in the Idolator archives–maybe it was just too over-commented-upon in its moment for commentary here to feel unnecessary. Nevertheless, it’s still an interesting piece, though not because it “proves” much beyond commuters are busy, but than Weingarten is one of the best profile writers around. Anyway, enjoy it and several others that join it in the “bonus tracks” circle.
Right: one of my pieces is linked in here. My apologies. I like it still, if that helps any. Anyway, as with the second batch, I found myself hooked on one piece here in particular: Michael Martin’s New York story about the preparation for Broadway of Xanadu, one of the worst movies ever made. Two lines in particular knocked me sideways: “(Andy Gibb, a Newton-John friend and Beck’s doppelgänger, had originally signed but dropped out, perhaps wisely opting to stay home and snort cocaine instead.)” And this absolute mind-bender: