Monday, May 4, 2009

Books and old boyfriends

I am beginning to feel about the music journalist Norman Lebrecht the way I used to feel about old boyfriends. You would run across this guy after a couple of years, and he would seem so cute and nice, and you would say to yourself: "Why did I throw him back? I must have been wrong. Look at him. He is so smart and funny."

Then you agree to go out to dinner with him. And you have fun. And you go out to dinner again.

And then something happens, and you start to remember why you had those second thoughts. He's angry, maybe. Or he has issues. That is a phrase I love! Or he exhausts you. What I am getting at is, there is always something.

That is the way I am getting about Norman Lebrecht. I have his book "The Life and Death of Classical Music." And it kicks around my house. And every once in a while this book and I, we bump into each other.

And I read a few pages. And I think: This Norman Lebrecht, he is so cute and funny. There is so much in his brain that he cannot ever get to it all. And he knows everyone and he has all the dirt. That is a picture of Norman Lebrecht at the top of this post. He looks like a great guy to go out and have a beer with, I have to say that.

So I wonder: Why did I walk away from this book? And I pick it up again. And I might even -- shhh! -- go to bed with it. I am drawn in by all these stories Lebrecht is telling about which conductor threw which other conductor under the bus, and what record label exploited what performer, and this and that artist who looked nice but was really a nasty underneath.

But then it starts creeping up on me, why I let it go last time. It's angry, it's exhausting, it has issues. Plus I do not believe that classical music is dead. Last time I checked, which was five minutes ago, it was not.

I have to believe Lebrecht loves music but it does not come through in this book. I get a kick out of his blog especially this recent post he did on Bob Dylan. That is a great post!

Wow, you cannot say such things about Dylan in Buffalo, I have to say that. I wrote a review of a Dylan concert in Buffalo once where I brought up a few of the same issues Lebrecht did. I thought I was going to get killed. The Buffalo News got so many nasty letters they devoted a whole page to them.

So I like Lebrecht sometimes, for running his mouth. I guess I like him in small doses.

Like an old boyfriend.


  1. Lebrecht's book "The Maestro Myth" is even more dishy, but it's possible that your ire would be raised about his account of how Herbert Von Karajan with Ronald Wilford did their best to turn European art music into a virtual monopoly run by Herbert Von Karajan and Ronald Wilford.

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