From The Desk Of A.C. Newman: Gordon Lightfoot

carlnewmanpresscrop41“There are maybe 10 or 12 things I could teach you,” sings Carl “A.C.” Newman on his new solo album, Get Guilty (Matador). “After that, well, you’re on your own.” This week, MAGNET lets the New Pornographers frontman steer our website toward 10 or 12 of his own favorite things in music, film, literature and life.

Read our verdict on the orchestral-pop case of Get Guilty and a Q&A deposition with Newman here.

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Newman: I went on iTunes and started downloading songs by Gordon Lightfoot. I couldn’t remember how they went, but I knew that I liked them. He had an album called Endless Wire in the ’70s, and a song on that record called “Daylight Katy” is, I think, the greatest thing he’s ever done. He was one of Dylan’s favorite songwriters, which is pretty high praise. He’s Canadian; I have to throw in some Canadian content. There’s a very proud tradition of Canadian songwriters. If you throw in Gordon Lightfoot with Joni Mitchell and Neil Young and Leonard Cohen, that’s a pretty powerful collection.

For a bizarre video montage of dolphins and Katie Holmes set to Gordon Lightfoot’s “Daylight Katy,” click here. SFW. Maybe not safe for Katie Holmes.

From The Desk Of A.C. Newman: Roberto Bolaño

carlnewmanpresscrop41“There are maybe 10 or 12 things I could teach you,” sings Carl “A.C.” Newman on his new solo album, Get Guilty (Matador). “After that, well, you’re on your own.” This week, MAGNET lets the New Pornographers frontman steer our website toward 10 or 12 of his own favorite things in music, film, literature and life.

Read our verdict on the orchestral-pop case of Get Guilty and a Q&A deposition with Newman here.

bolano245Newman: Roberto Bolaño died in 2003, but he’s become quite a hot author in the past couple years. Last year, his book from 1999, The Savage Detectives, was translated and published. His final book is a 900-page opus called 2666, and I’m about two-thirds of the way through it. In the worlds he creates, it seems that art and murder are often tied up together. It’s hard to describe, but his writing is dark and very beautifully written. He’s Chilean but spent most of his life in Mexico. I’ve been drawn to Latin-American writers recently; I don’t know why. A lot of people give Latin America credit for magical realism—Gabriel García Márquez being the most popular example—so that’s a somewhat common element of it, but Bolaño doesn’t really work in there. I can’t really tell you what links Latin American writers. It’s like when I was into R.E.M. as a teenager. I tried to find music like theirs by listening to the other bands from Athens, Ga. I found out Bolaño was a huge fan of Julio Cortázar, so I read him and that leads to other people like Carlos Fuentes, which leads to Juan Rulfo which leads to José Donoso and so on.

The New Yorker profiled Bolaño in 2007; read it here.

From The Desk Of A.C. Newman: The Equals

carlnewmanpresscrop41“There are maybe 10 or 12 things I could teach you,” sings Carl “A.C.” Newman on his new solo album, Get Guilty (Matador). “After that, well, you’re on your own.” This week, MAGNET lets the New Pornographers frontman steer our website toward 10 or 12 of his own favorite things in music, film, literature and life.

Read our verdict on the orchestral-pop case of Get Guilty and a Q&A deposition with Newman here.

equalspoliceNewman: The Equals were Eddy Grant’s first group. It was an amazing shock to find out they existed. I love when you find a band you never heard about before and they’re completely amazing. I think Eddy Grant was 18 or 19, and he wore a blonde wig. They had one or two hits in England, and they did the original version of “Police On My Back” by the Clash. That’s an old ‘60s song by the Equals. Everyone thinks it’s a Clash song, but it’s a song written by Eddy Grant, the same guy who wrote “Electric Avenue.” The Equals are as good as the Troggs, I think, and in that same kind of style: driving, ‘60s hard rock with a real pop sensibility.

The Equals’ 1967 live performance of “Baby Come Back”:

From The Desk Of A.C. Newman: The Rock*A*Teens

carlnewmanpresscrop41“There are maybe 10 or 12 things I could teach you,” sings Carl “A.C.” Newman on his new solo album, Get Guilty (Matador). “After that, well, you’re on your own.” This week, MAGNET lets the New Pornographers frontman steer our website toward 10 or 12 of his own favorite things in music, film, literature and life.

Read our verdict on the orchestral-pop case of Get Guilty and a Q&A deposition with Newman here.

rockateens480Newman: The Rock*A*Teens broke up years ago, but I just got into them last year. I was floored at how good they were. Kelly Hogan, who sings with Neko (Case), was in the band. I think they’re one of the most underrated bands of the mid-’90s to early 2000s. Dan (Bejar) and Neko were both big fans, but I missed out on them for some reason. I can’t quite explain it: Few bands can pull off being sloppy and symphonic at the same time. They remind me a little bit of Frog Eyes, too. They were a guitar band whose songs sounded like they could’ve been played by a string quartet; instead, they played them with loud, reverby guitars. Sometimes it sounded like garage music. The really great bands are hard to describe. The Rock*A*Teens were so good and out on their own, I don’t know who to compare them to. The Pixies are the same way. The great bands are on their own. They just sound like themselves.

“What Took You So Long” from 1999’s Oh, Merge: Merge Records 10 Year Anniversary Compilation:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/WhatTookYouSoLong.mp3

From The Desk Of A.C. Newman: Giulietta Masina

carlnewmanpresscrop41“There are maybe 10 or 12 things I could teach you,” sings Carl “A.C.” Newman on his new solo album, Get Guilty (Matador). “After that, well, you’re on your own.” This week, MAGNET lets the New Pornographers frontman steer our website toward 10 or 12 of his own favorite things in music, film, literature and life.

Read our verdict on the orchestral-pop case of Get Guilty and a Q&A deposition with Newman here.

nightsclipb1Newman: Giulietta Masina was Federico Fellini’s wife. I’ve only seen her in a few movies, but she was in La Strada and Nights Of Cabiria. I’ve never seen a more striking actress. I can’t recall ever watching another movie and being so enthralled by someone. She’s kind of pixie-ish, she’s not particularly beautiful, and it’s almost like she’s overacting. She sometimes seems like she’s mugging sometimes like a silent film star. I want to watch her movies again just to watch her and not pay any attention to what’s going on in the movie. She’s a completely magnetic presence. She’s been compared to a female Charlie Chaplin, which makes her sound somewhat lame. I got into watching Fellini movies a while back, and she jumped out at me as being the greatest actress I’ve ever seen in my life.

From The Desk Of A.C. Newman: Pete Seeger

carlnewmanpresscrop41“There are maybe 10 or 12 things I could teach you,” sings Carl “A.C.” Newman on his new solo album, Get Guilty (Matador). “After that, well, you’re on your own.” This week, MAGNET lets the New Pornographers frontman steer our website toward 10 or 12 of his own favorite things in music, film, literature and life.

Read our verdict on the orchestral-pop case of Get Guilty and a Q&A deposition with Newman here.

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Newman: I went to see Pete Seeger a couple months ago. He’s one of the most inspirational people of the 20th century. He’s a classic example of somebody who couldn’t be held down. He started out in a band called the Weavers, who were very popular and did the hit version of the ‘50s song “Goodnight Irene.” When McCarthyism came along, Seeger got blackballed because he wouldn’t take any part of it. He really stood up for himself. The only work he could get was playing children’s camps. Years passed, and when the folk-music scene started, those people looked at him as a god. He was one of the main inspirations for that scene. Even now, he’s in his 80s and he’s very active, still protesting and (advocating for) cleaning up the Hudson River. He still plays shows and sings “This Land Is Your Land.” It’s hard not to watch Pete Seeger and get teary-eyed.

On Sunday, the 89-year-old Seeger performed “This Land Is Your Land” with Bruce Springsteen at Barack Obama’s inaugural concert in Washington, D.C.:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg0wiOHc9tI

Q&A With A.C. Newman

ac-neman2bCarl Newman has long been credited as the architect behind the New Pornographers, a primarily Canadian union of musical talents that includes Neko Case, Destroyer’s Dan Bejar and a veritable wrecking crew of Vancouver players. What’s been surprising, however, is how easily Newman can assemble the same complex pop structures with just about any group of backing musicians on his two solo albums (credited to A.C. Newman). Newman’s latest, Get Guilty (Matador), has the same thrill-ride melodic twists, ornate instrumentation and gang-vocal shout-alongs as anything accomplished by the acclaimed Pornographers. The record also points to what Newman does best: He makes subtly orchestral pop music that doesn’t sound overly stuffy, sad or stiffly baroque. From the clickety-clack drumstick tapping on “Like A Hitman, Like A Dancer” to the tambourine-laced stomp “Collected Works,” Get Guilty is as much a mad dash through the closet of a music room as it is a studiously composed rock album. Yet for all his ambition and often-cryptic lyrics, Newman lets it be known that this is still a batch of simple songs and stories: “All Of My Days & All Of My Days Off” is an ode to his wife written for their wedding day, and “The Palace At 4 AM” is an homage to a Tiki bar in Vancouver.

Newman spoke to MAGNET from his home in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. To commemorate the release of Get Guilty, Newman will be the guest editor of magnetmagazine.com all this week. Check back for his daily posts on favorite music, film, literature and more.

“There Are Maybe Ten Or Twelve” from Get Guilty:

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