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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

We are stardust and Jane will rock you

This may sound at first like it is not related to Jane Austen, but it is, at least to my way of thinking. ;)

I just listened today to what is, for me, perhaps the most interesting interview I've ever heard on Fresh Air (or maybe on ANY radio or tv show), with Terri Gross interviewing Brian May, the guitarist of the rock group Queen. This is one for the time capsule, to show the realization of the true potential of radio to inform and give pleasure to a sophisticated listenership.

I knew nothing about May prior to the broadcast (I didn't even know his name), and if you also do not, and want the fun of hearing the broadcast cold, as I did, just go to this link now:

(the audio will, per that webpage, be available to listen at 5 pm EST)

I mention this here in Austen venues because, as I listened to May giving his witty, intelligent, candid, unscripted reactions to Gross's excellent questions (and I don't always think she asks the best questions, but in this interview, she asked EVERY question I wanted to hear answered!) about audio clips from We Will Rock You and Bohemian Rhapsody, I listened to those old familiar songs with new ears, as a result of the new information I heard regarding their composition, and what May and his deceased groupmate, Freddy Mercury, had in mind as they wrote and recorded them.

The connection to Jane Austen is that it's been a longstanding bone of contention in these groups, especially Janeites, as to whether one can overstudy Jane Austen's novels, and somehow get so lost in erudition and extratextual background that one loses the joy of simply reading the novels. And my reaction to hearing that broadcast of Fresh Air is that I will never again just flip through a Classic Rock radio station,or just listen with one ear, when I hear those two Queen songs, because "I've heard them a thousand times". Instead, I will be listening closely, and hearing them as much more than I imagined they were. And for me, that is what looking at all the allusions, wordplay and other non-obvious aspects of JA's artistry does for my appreciation of the novels themselves--it turns an already rich stereo sound into IMAX quality sound, in terms of my appreciation level!

On top of all that, Brian May is just a joy to listen to, because he is a genuine Renaissance Man. Among other things, he went back to school as an aging Boomer after all his success with Queen, and got his phd in ASTROPHYSICS, and has written a book about the dust that is everywhere in our solar system, and which is falling to earth all the time, and has been for several billion years. It looks like dust to most people, but to him it is a clue to the origins of the solar system.

As he said, when Joni Mitchell sang "we are stardust", she was 100% scientifically accurate.

Cheers, ARNIE


Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site
Is this possible?

Arnie Perlstein said...

Since you are anonymous and gave no blog URL, that would seem to be impossible at present.