A reader writes:
I am a regular visitor to your website, often first thing in the morning or later during lunch. I have always found the arts interesting but somewhat difficult to grasp. Not so much because they are above me, but my busy life, between spending time with my four young boys, my wife and work, allows little time left to pursue the arts. You provide me with a porthole to view them at least on a very general level. I have taken some of your musical recommendations as they are the easiest for me to indulge in. The Paul Desmond Quartet Live disc is most enjoyable. While I am a neophyte in the jazz world I have listened to Coltrane, Miles, Brubeck, Marsalis and such and enjoyed them.
Anyway, my point is that I had listened to Norah Jones’ first CD when it came out awhile back and enjoyed it. I found it fresh and different but the thing that really was great about it was that I could turn on the radio and hear it with little searching and effort. While I agree after several listens there is nothing new or interesting that you hear, being able to actually understand the lyrics, decent vocals and having a melody played on pop radio stations was so very refreshing.
After reading your comments on her first album I would agree that it definitely belongs in the pop/country category and not jazz and that her music is pleasant enough. And that I think is the point or question. The Norah Jones CD was a hit I think because of one its novelty and two there was actual singing and music as opposed to much of the garble in pop music. It was great to have something so different pumping through the major airwaves and easily available, somewhat along the lines of the middlebrow culture that you have mentioned was regularly available on TV back in the day. I see it as people having a thirst for more culture but they are so busy with their lives that they don’t know where to begin and the major broadcasters have no interest in providing it to the public.
I know that it is the case with me and it is the reason that I turn to your website. For ways that I can quickly absorb some culture. I try out some of the music, I follow the links you post to art work. Anything to give me a quick culture hit in my limited free time. I wish I could absorb more of the real thing but as I mentioned above life gets int the way. Until my kids grow a little older I will just have to make do with the tasty morsels you leave me on your website and attempt to follow up on them as often as possible.
And for that I will thank you.
I wish I’d gotten this e-mail prior to taping my upcoming appearance
on Kurt Andersen’s Studio 360, because Andersen and I talked about how arts blogs have the potential to do exactly what my correspondent has in mind. I don’t know whether that section of the interview will make the final cut, but I do want to say that right from the start, I’ve sought to use “About Last Night” not only to communicate with full-fledged urban aesthetes, but also to make the world of art more accessible to ordinary folks who “have a thirst for more culture.”
Back in the Fifties, mass-circulation organs of middlebrow culture like Time and Life fulfilled that function, and did so wonderfully well. Now they don’t even try. I was staggered to learn, for instance, that the only note Time is taking of this year’s arts Pulitzers will be to run a piece about The Known World (which, needless to say, it failed to review on publication). How is it possible that a weekly newsmagazine which ostensibly covers the arts could find no space even to mention Paul Moravec or Doug Wright?
Instead of cursing the journalistic darkness, I started “About Last Night,” and whenever I get letters like this one, I know it’s starting to spread a little light. You can help. Please–please–tell a friend about Our Girl and me. Our traffic has been rising steadily ever since we went live last August (we received more than 50,000 page views in March), but the world is still full of lots and lots of people who are waiting to discover a blog like this, whether they know it or not. In fact, they might not even know what a blog is! So give them a nudge. They’ll be glad you did. We’ll be glad you did.