1000 Songs to Change Your Life

I've contributed an essay called "Small World," on the suburban sociology of exotica music, to a new anthology from Time Out, 1000 Songs To Change Your Life.

This assignment was the pleasant side effect of lunching with editor Will Fulford-Jones on his recent research trip to L.A. for the new edition of the city guide. Ostensibly we met to fill him in on the various Esotouric bus adventures that Richard and I lead around the city, but I ended up being asked to contribute a variety of sidebars in the forthcoming L.A. guide (Bob Baker! Charles Fletcher Lummis! graveyards of East LA! weird desserts! secret gardens!), and this neat little essay, which conveniently coincided with writing (in collaboration with David Smay) the liner notes for a big bunch of Arthur Lyman reissues.

I don't pretend to be an expert on instrumental music, but I'm quite interested in the intersections between postwar American culture and imagined versions of the exotic, and all the sex/death associations that the tropics carried, and I like how this piece turned out.

Also included among the inventive, thematic essays in 1000 Songs To Change Your Life are Douglas Wolk on broken hearts, Dave Rimmer on "Gloomy Sunday," editor Fulford-Jones on home, Robert Forster on The Only Ones (too brief!), Chuck Eddy on Nashville's fascination with Mexicana, Michaelangelo Matos on non-bubblegum food-themed pop, Kimberly Chun on drag, Philip Sherburne on urban themes in electronic music, Sylvie Simmons reacting to Janet Reno's rah-rah Americana compilation, Bob Stanley on distinctively British sensibilities, Burt Bacharach on songwriting, Colin Irwin on murder ballads, Geoff Carter on film soundtracks, and a whole lot of genre hopping, thought provoking pop crit. There's also a truly stunning photo of Kris Kristofferson playing a Stratocaster, so peel an eye for it at your better bookseller.