The Popdose Podcast: Episode 9

If you’re a regular listener of The Popdose Podcast, we can safely assume two things about you:

1) You’re passionate about music, and you enjoy listening to other people talk about that passion.

2) You enjoy jokes about our mothers.

As always, you can expect the latter (we did record this on Mother’s Day, after all), but in this Very Special Episode of the podcast, we really concentrate on the former. That’s because we’re joined by Steve Almond, author of a fantastic new book entitled Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life.

You may have read Jeff’s fantastic “Letter From the Editor” post last month praising the book, and hopefully you went out and purchased it — if not, there’s no time like the present. We think you’ll enjoy the podcast without having read the book, but there’s no doubt that you will enjoy the hell out of the podcast if you’ve read it — and vice versa! Besides, we know that Popdose readers meet at least some of Steve’s criteria for being what he terms a Drooling Fanatic — and as such, this book is required reading.

This show is longer than our usual podcasts, but that’s because Steve had so many beautiful and fascinating thoughts to share at every turn, and really inspired the Drooling Fanatic in each of us. We think he’ll do the same for you. Like listening to an album on vinyl, your patience will be rewarded.

The Popdose Podcast, Episode 9: Drooling Fanatics (1:51:37, 89.5 MB), featuring Jeff Giles, Jason Hare, and Dave Lifton with special guest Steve Almond, author of Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us (with Bitchin’ Soundtrack).
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Show Notes

0:00 Intro: Happy Mother’s Day! You can guess where this conversation is headed. Also, Jason discusses his unfortunate caffeine/fried food binge from the night before.

3:55 We discuss how we each became Drooling Fanatics ourselves. Jason recalls his motherly music connections, mainly through the “A” artists: ABBA, Anne Murray and Air Supply. This leads to digressions into the unfortunate new Air Supply album, indelible musical factoids, Greg Louganis (?) and Mellow Gold.

13:46 Dave ties in his DF origins with Steve’s 5 Criteria For Becoming a Drooling Fanatic. What are they? Listen to the podcast and read the book to find out! Dave mentions the influence of his parents, siblings and friends, the Beatles resurgence of 1976 (through Capitol-released compilations), and his guitar playing. Digressions include the unfortunate new Meat Loaf album, Brian May and Billy Joel.

22:38 Jeff discusses music fanaticism resulting from childhood emotions and his love of Billy Joel. We discuss his role as a “gateway musician” and how he’s affected all three of us in unique ways.

32:33 Welcome to the show, Steve Almond! The discussion between the four of us is way too involved to document here but among other topics, we cover his impetus for writing Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, the origin of the term “Drooling Fanatic,” the brouhaha over his op-ed in The Boston Globe, the differences in music criticism over the years, Toto’s “Africa,” Styx’s Paradise Theater and Metallica’s “Fade to Black,” the relationship between music journalist and artist, Air Supply, Willie Nelson on Letterman, Gil Scott-Heron and Ronald Reagan, music as a “concerted sonic experience,” and technology’s influence on appreciating music.

In the course of conversation, Steve sings the praises of a number of artists:

Ike Reilly (specifically Salesmen & Racists)
Dayna Kurtz
Joe Henry
James McMurtry
Florence and the Machine

He makes you want to go out and investigate every single one. You’ll see.

EnDOSEments

1:41:15 Steve endorses a book entitled Stoner by John Williams (not that John Williams). “It’s the most devastatingly sad and beautiful book…it might be the perfect novel.” (Song: Ray Charles, “Let’s Go Get Stoned”)

1:44:40 Jeff endorses the new season of Friday Night Lights, back on NBC. (Song: Lyle Lovett, “Long Tall Texan”)

1:45:41 Jason endorses the show Breaking Bad on AMC and Bullz-Eye’s Breaking Bad Fan Hub. (Song: Drive-By Truckers, “You and Your Crystal Meth”)

1:47:05 Dave endorses a number of new albums that were released on May 4th (Josh Ritter, New Pornographers and Justin Currie of Del Amitri), but specifically Heaven is Whenever by the Hold Steady. Steve weighs in with his praise of Josh Ritter’s Hello Starling and Del Amitri’s debut album. (Song: The Hold Steady, “We Can Get Together”)

Wrappin’ It Up

1:49:09 A big, big thank you to Steve Almond for joining us for a really insightful conversation about his book and what makes us all Drooling Fanatics in our own special ways. Please help us continue the discussion of Drooling Fanaticism in the comments!

We can’t say it enough — if you love music, and you love sharing music, go pick up Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life. Check out Steve’s website for links to purchase his other books, including Candyfreak and My Life in Heavy Metal. Don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes, and to visit our Facebook fan page as well as the Popdose Twitter feed. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you in June!




  • http://popdose.com MatthewBolin

    I was surprised, considering the amount of ribbing that goes on in each episode, you didn't ask your guest how he came up with the idea for “Tainted Love”.

  • http://twitter.com/michaelparr Michael Parr

    BRAVO!

  • http://twitter.com/tcote Thierry Côté

    I'll reserve judgment on the book until I get a chance to read it, but I have to say that the Steve Almond interview, if anything, kind of made me want to read it less.

    I'm sympathetic to a lot of his ideas on the notion that there is a very personal connection that exists between the listener and the music that makes the notion of music criticism difficult and that is difficult to express in simple words, but then he starts talking about other people's music in an almost fundamentally condescending manner (whether it is when he goes on about pop metal, or the lyrics to Africa) that rubs me the wrong way – even the “cheese” that he claims to like is all very tasteful, perhaps a bit too much so. On the one hand, he seems to give people the license to listen to music regardless of what The Critics have to say about it, but on the other hand he also seems to spend a great deal of time mocking that same music (and thus their audience), and not exactly going out on a limb with his own “drooling fanaticism”. Maybe I would find that the arguments he makes would have more weight if he came across as someone who also harbours a love for at least -some-deeply uncool music (Springsteen's Nebraska, the Pogues, the Hold Steady, Joe Henry, Ike Reilly, etc. practically define “critic rock” for 40-something males!) instead of someone who's just shooting fish in a barrel from a pedestal of good taste…the sort of fish that a site like Popdose often makes us less ashamed of liking!

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    A two-hour podcast? That's extra value right there.

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    My drooling fanatic tic would be regarding mixtapes, not just what songs went on and what they were supposed to say to the receiver, but the grade of blank cassette quality. I think this was covered in High Fidelity, but it's so true.

    Normal bias – Be my friend, and maybe someday you might let me touch you.
    Chrome oxide – My mattress is disgusting with thoughts of you.
    Metal oxide – I can't afford an engagement ring, but this essentially says the same thing.

  • EightE1

    [sigh] I can't tell you the last time I told someone “My mattress is disgusting with thoughts of you.”

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    I can, and you know, if you catch the pepper spray in your mouth and not your eyes, it ain't half bad.

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  • http://leapbound.wordpress.com Danny Yau

    Really great show. For the record, I count the older sibling, parental love of music and enough talent to know better as my key reasons in discovering music. Much like Jason, it was Abba, Carpenters, Bee Gees, Air Supply.

    Great site, and I am all for more regular podcasts!

  • http://www.popdose.com jefito

    Thanks for listening, Danny!