Pretty Much Pop #23: The Singer Not the Song w/ Ken Stringfellow

What’s your relationship to music? Do you just embrace the pure sound, or do you care about who made that sound? One way of seeing where you fall on this issue is whether you care more for singles or to whole albums or careers by artists.

Ken Stringfellow, who co-fronts The Posies and was a member of R.E.M. and Big Star, joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about what actually grabs us about music, whether being a musician yourself is a key factor in whether you pay attention to the context of a song, how music gets to your ears, singers vs. songwriters, what we think about the notion of “genius,” and how this artist vs. song conflict relates to how we take in other media (e.g., favorite film directors).

The ideas for this discussion mostly came from reflecting on our own experiences and habits, but we did some warm-up research into:

Listen to Mark interview Ken on Nakedly Examined Music, presenting specifically some of his solo, Posies, and Big Star songs. After that was recording, Ken sang some harmonies on a tune on Mark’s last album, Mark Lint’s Dry Folk.

Ken is deeply pondering something or other before running off to record a sitar.

Other references: “Midnight Confessions” by The Grass Roots, Lil Peep, Tom Waits’s most popular album, Lou Reed is not a one-hit wonder, the scene in Slacker with a fan getting Madonna’s pubic hair, Damien Rice is still working, the band Live reunited, REM on Sesame Street (no, Ken is not on camera), Ken being “world music” by playing solo in foreign countries.

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