On Celestial Music by Rick Moody

It is not easy to write about music. I think everyone has experienced that moment when a song sets off some kind of emotion that you just can't find the words to describe. As a composer, I have always struggled with finding the words to describe my pieces. In my mind, I know what the piece is doing, but I am of the belief that it is much easier to music about music than write about it.

Author and musician Rick Moody has tackled the unenviable task of writing about music for many years. In this book, he compiles a varied collection of essays and thoughts that shed some light on his views of our world of music. Of particular note is his opening essay "Against Cool" in which he chronicles the word's journey from truly meaning cool to becoming another way to say "neat". He begins with the origin of the "cool" bluesy jazz of Miles Davis. He argues that the commercialization and over exposure of the cool (think Kool-Aid or Kool Cigarettes) diminished the value of the word.

In another well written section, Moody attempts to grasp what the music of heaven will sound like. To me, this was the most effective section. Moody somehow manages to relay his emotional connection/response to certain pieces and artists (Simon and Garfunkel, Arvo Part, etc.). Through these descriptions and personal recollections, Moody makes an interesting point about the sounds of the afterlife, and admits his fears of nonbeing.

Other sections of this book fail live up to the level of the better written ones. Like an album of music, certain essays really worked while others just fell flat. Despite Moody's fantastic writing, some of his pieces simply failed to come to any important point. With that in mind, this book is well worth reading for the many gems it contains. Anyone who has had a connection to music will find meaning in Moody's writing and gain a larger knowledge of the music that inhabits our world.

For more information visit the author's website
http://www.rickmoodybooks.com/, the publisher's site
and http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12240466-on-celestial-music and

(week 16, book 18)

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 15, 2012 and is filed under ,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

8 Responses to “On Celestial Music by Rick Moody”

  1. Great review as always, Ethan. Sounds like this was a very insightful read--and you're right, any time you've got a collection of different works (essays, short stories, whatever), there are always going to be some stronger than others. Goes with the territory, I guess.

  2. As someone who doesn't normally read this sort of book I am very intrigued by your review! I selected the "YES" on amazon, and my email is affyfe [at] gmail [dot] com.

  3. I have completed the above step Yes this review was helpful. This sounds like a great read about music.

  4. I want to win this book, it sounds interesting. Alas, I'm in Asia. Damn.

  5. Another well written review, Ethan, in which you bring up some significant points about the difficulty of writing about music ( I left some comments with your Amazon review). It will be interesting to see how Moody addresses those issues, particularly since I am familiar with his fiction and short stories, where he does prove to be a master with language. abeck01@snet.net

  6. Yes I followed the steps. thanks Lisa...lisapeters at yahoo dot com

  7. This book sounds intriguing from your review. I clicked Yes.
    alibraryofourown at gmail dot com

  8. Congratulations to Debbie, Lisa, and Annie! They will each receive a copy of On Celestial Music by Rick Moody. Thanks to the publisher for making this giveaway available, and thanks to all who entered. Be sure to check this site for current and future giveaway opportunities


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