Although the pay is rumored to be low, authoring a 33 1/3 book is one of the surefire ways that a music writer can transcend day-to-day geekdom and elevate themselves to a sort of record nerd immortality. If you haven’t heard of this, 33 1/3 is an on going series of books, each of which is dedicated to a single important/interesting/influential album. The writing can involve anything from straight biography to Meat is Murder-inspired fan-fic and the authors range from professional critics, to super-fans, to John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats (who penned the book on Black Sabbath’s Masters of Reality).
Several months ago the series’ blog posted an open call for book proposals and on Sunday they finally ran a list of of the submissions, all 597 of them. It was only out of sheer sloth that I neglected to turn in my own proposal for ZZ Top’s Eliminator and I’m really regretting it now (although maybe there’s still a chance for my Billy Gibbons-in-West Berlin screenplay?).
The list varies pretty wildly, but it’s interesting to see which records were pitched by multiple times. Four pitches for Duran Duran’s Rio and four pitches for Dinosaur Jr’s You’re Living All Over Me. More surprisingly, seven people pitched Slint’s Spiderland! Really? Is a deep reading of “Nosferatu Man” really that necessary? I suppose that at least one of those proposals must have a pretty good argument for it.
It’s nice to see that DC (or at least DC 1984-93) is very well represented—Unrest, Half Japanese, Nation of Ulysses, Pussy Galore, four pitches for various Fugazi records. I’m very pleased that somebody wanted to do a book on Lungfish’s Sound in Time, which is among my all-time favorites, but in order to turn a profit the book would probably have to move more copies than the album ever did.
But sales figures aside, that’s not nearly as weird a bizarre and idea as flash-in-the-pan boogie-rock band Black Oak Arkansas’ The Definitive Rock Collection. I remember that when I was a kid I tried to pick up a copy of that during a road trip and my parents, who rarely made any attempt to censor my music tastes, flatly prohibited me from buying it. Maybe they had seen this video and just decided that if there was any chance that their son would grow up to chicken-strut around on stage in white spandex and fringe, that they would play no part in it.