The greatest audience comment ever recorded is, I think, a remark overheard at a performance of Ernst Krenek’s Second Piano Concerto at the Boston Symphony in 1938. A Boston matriarch responded to Krenek’s twelve-tone discourse by saying, ‘Conditions in Europe must be dreadful.’

He chose a way of death guaranteed to bring down a hailstorm of prying analytical chatter far in excess of anything he had experienced while he was alive. This is the paradoxical allure of suicide: to leave the chattering world behind and yet to stage-manage the exit so that one is talked about in the right way.

Alex Ross on Kurt Cobain. From the obituary that first appeared with slightly different wording in the New Yorker. [$]

The Searchers: Radiohead’s unquiet revolution – The New Yorker

Alex Ross on tour with Radiohead. I like this bit from Nigel Godrich on Radiohead’s ongoing effort to figure out their sound and musical directions. At one point,

People stopped talking to one another. ‘Insanity’ is the word. In the end, I think the debate was redundant, because the band ultimately kept doing what it has always done—zigzagging between extremes. Whenever we really did try to impose an aesthetic from the outside—the aesthetic being, say, electronic—it would fail. All the drama was just a form of procrastination.

The Searchers: Radiohead’s unquiet revolution – The New Yorker

I read an interview with Tom Waits, around the time of his album “Rain Dogs,” in which he talked about how you come to a point on an instrument where you have to stop playing it and find another instrument that you don’t know what you’re doing with. Part of songwriting is having that naïve excitement about not quite realizing why you’re getting off on it, because you haven’t had time to pull it apart yet. Songwriting relies on not pulling things apart: the best ideas are the simple ideas.

Thom Yorke in an interview with Alex Ross.

Alex Ross on Wallace Stevens:

Stevens’ grandeur is an inch away from absurdity, if not in the thick of it. This is by intention. He liked to deflate solemnity with silliness. His humor is his least noticed attribute, probably because it is so widespread. Even his titles—“The Revolutionists Stop for Orangeade,” “The Emperor of Ice-Cream”—undercut their own pomposity. Sometimes I think Stevens was a collegiate prankster who never gave away the joke he played on literature.