The Lavin Agency is a speakers bureau, based in New York City and Toronto. We exclusively represent leading thinkers, writers, and doers who inspire ideas and dialogue that make the world a better place.
Here’s legendary artist and Lavin speaker Patti Smith performing “Banga,” the title track of her latest album, on last night’s episode of Late Show with David Letterman. Banga, which is in stores now, is Smith’s first new album in five years.
"I liked standing in line for a couple of hours trying to get ‘Blonde on Blonde’ and having no idea what was going to be on it. I liked standing in line to see ‘Psycho,’ having no idea what’s going to happen, except for the poster. That’s the way I like it, and I try my best, even in the present culture, to present our work like that."
A lovely mid-tempo pop song. U2’s “The Ground Beneath Her Feet,” inspired by Salman Rushdie’s novel of the same name. As Rushdie reminded us on Twitter this week, “Well, the book came first. The lyrics were originally in there and then U2 set them to music.”
Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, talks about the impact hip-hop culture has had on politics, especially among youth. Hip-hop sprang from the marginalized youth of the Bronx in the late 1970’s, of whom nothing was given and even less was expected. They essentially had to create their own world. As the ideals and messages of hip-hop gained momentum and bubbled up into the mainstream, they inspired grassroots political movements and empowered youth—especially those who had come up through hip-hop culture—to make their voices heard. “In hip-hop, culture changes, and eventually there’s a desire to gain power out of that.” Today, Chang reminds us, we’re seeing just how powerful that change can be.
Clockwise: Patti Smith, David Eagleman, Brian Eno, Philip Glass
Two giants of avant garde music are currently collaborating with two Lavin Agency speakers, in separate and high profile projects. It was recently announced that Patti Smith will collaborate with composer Philip Glass in the new year as part of his 75th birthday celebrations. The four-day event will take place in New York and will end with the premiere of Glass’ choral work, Another Look At Harmony. Also in the works is a full operatic rendition of Brian Eno’s score to neuroscientist David Eagleman’s novel, Sum, which is slated for production by London’s Royal Opera House in May 2012.
Chuck Klosterman’s first memoir, Fargo Rock City, about his unabashed love for ‘80s metal, that most discredited of musical genres, was named to Pitchfork’s list of Favorite Music Books. With insanely riveting prose, Klosterman makes a personal case for the importance of this thoroughly uncool music that had a profound effect on him—and on millions of other teenagers during its commercial peak. Fargo Rock City, soon to be a major motion picture co-written by the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, is not simply a memoir about a musial genre; it is—like much of Klosterman’s writing—about the unexpected ways that pop culture, evenly lowly hair metal, can shape a young person’s life and bring meaning to it.
Fargo Rock City is essentially Chuck Klosterman’s long-form love letter to hair metal. And while he didn’t invent the idea of personal narrative-as-music criticism, it’s hard to imagine a lot of our finest think-piece depositories existing without the admirable standards its tangent-prone prose set before the dawn of Tumblr. It’s as anti-authoritarian as any book on this list without wallowing in self-satisfied contrarianism or academic pomp; independently voiced but accessible and nostalgic while still maintaining a salty, unromantic edge.
It doesn’t hurt to have a working knowledge of the BulletBoys’ discography or an adolescence drinking cheap beer in a rural outpost going in, but it’s hardly necessary. The import of Fargo Rock City isn’t so much what’s said about “November Rain” or North Dakota so much as flipping the script on the common gripe about music criticism that “it tells you more about the reviewer than the album”: being an authority on one’s own experiences gives anybody a right to be a part of the conversation. Klosterman’s writing here has the passion, humor, and empathy to not only excuse the solipsism but justify it.