Tuesday, August 4, 2020

But Regardless, You're Mine

I spent all morning writing my Promptapalooza post. I know it's not due for two weeks but I like to get these things done ahead of time.

That means I don't quite have the mental energy for another post today but I also don't want to skip. So here's a thing I wanted to do but probably wouldn't have, otherwise. It shouldn't take long.

Remember when I was talking out loud to myself about how I was or wasn't going to buy some or all of the multiple versions of Lana Del Rey's first spoken-word album-cum-poetry collection, Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass? Well, the day came when it appeared on Audible and I thought abut it a bit and then I signed up for the free trial through Amazon Prime.

It was a bit of a rigmarole. They could make it a lot easier if they're trying to persuade people. Anyway, I got there. I tagged Violet to my account then cancelled because the last thing I wanted to do was forget and end up paying after all.

Audible kindly reminded me I was cancelling with an unused credit still in hand so I went back and looked for something else. The reason I don't have an Audible account in the first place and don't want one is because I've listened to about three audiobooks in thirty years. We have amazing speech radio where I live. Who needs to listen to actors reading books out loud? Or, worse, authors?

I hate to leave money on the table, though, so I took a Robert B. Parker triple which seemed like the best bang. The only audiobook I actually own, physical copy, is a Spenser double-header, although since it's on cassette I might as well toss it. Plus listening to the guy reading it doing Susan Silverman in falsetto is an experience I don't care to repeat.

So I thought I was done. I cancelled again and Audible didn't take that too well, either. They offered me a third credit for another title to get me to stay. Given the offer and the sub each only give you two, that's a substantial bribe. Didn't take it. I hit cancel for the third time and this time it stuck.

That was that, I thought. Then, a couple of days later, I got an email.

Yeah, still not buying. Reminds me of when I tried to cancel AOL and ended up keeping it for free for over a year. They just wouldn't say "Get lost, pal. See if we care". Which, frankly, is the only response I'd respect.

As for Lana's album, which is what I'm going to call it, because that's what it is, here are some reviews:

"The audiobook version of the singer’s forthcoming 30-poem hardback is a mixed bag – some are full of honest self-reflection, others are self-indulgent and mundane" - Martin Chilton - The Independent

"Lana Del Rey's poetry debut – sometimes cliche, always solipsistic: Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, released as an audiobook this week and in print in September, is a reminder of the singer’s strengths and shortcomings" - Yara Rodrigues Fowler - The Guardian

"She pulls off these musings and observations brilliantly, creating a new offshoot of the very specific world she’s created" - Rhian Daly - NME

"Lana Del Rey’s Audiobook Grapples With the Absurdity of Pop Star Poetry" - Sam Sodomsky - Pitchfork

"Lana Del Rey’s spoken word poetry album triumphs as a transcendent dreamscape" - Taila Lee - The Daily Californian

They're all fair reviews, from the lukewarms to the raves. As Pitchfork points out, the very concept of a book of poetry from a pop singer is a dodgy proposition. I was impressed by how seriously all the reviewers took it. The world really has changed.

I bloody loved it. Of course I did. Of course I do. Partly it's her superb reading voice. I could, as they say, listen to her read the phone directory. If we had such things any more.

It's also Jack Antonoff's wonderful arrangements. Without those Violet would be more of a book, less of an album, true, but it would also be much less of a miracle.

And all the reviewers are right. It's far from perfect. Some of the poems don't work. There's considerably more than I'd prefer to hear of the poet telling us she's a poet and how important poetry is to her.

But most of it is just wonderful. She creates worlds to lose yourself in. There's nothing to be done but listen when Lana recites. Background listening this is not.

Unless you're Mermaid Motel, that is. In which case you're busy visualizing. I'm not one hundred per cent MM nailed it on the first swing with her interpretation of LA Who Am I To Love You? one of the album's incontravertible highlights but close enough. A little on the nose, maybe, but so are some of the poems, although not this one. I hope the Mermaid does some more. I'm sure she will.

As for Lana, she's already talking about a second collection and there's a Lana del Rey album proper due out in a couple of months. Violet is already being talked up as maybe her first Grammy - for Spoken Word.

They all count, right?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide