Re: RARA-AVIS: Ellroy versus Cave. Split decision goes to Cave.

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 04 Feb 2002

I said :

> > << He must be the only truly literate rock/pop singer, aside from
> > >
> > > Leonard Cohen, I can think of . >>

Erick said :

> What criteria? As evidenced by they're lyrics, by the fact that they
wrote a
> book, or by their rep?
> Just curious.
Sorry, I was being a little imprecise (not for the 1st time). I should have said "with literary talent". Undoubtedly, many pop/rock singers read but only a handful, as far as I know, have attempted to write anything other than song lyrics & the only examples that I have come upon that to my mind demonstrate any aptitude at all for literature are Lenny & Nick (I'm feeling chummy this morn). As lyricists they are great
(especially Cohen, IMHO) but despite all the yabbering, in earlier years especially, about what great poetry Bob Dylan's lyrics (for example's sake) are,they ain't poems, they are songs. Great songs but songs, not poetry - a different art form requiring it's own distinct rules. (I'm aware Dylan also published some poems but I haven't read them. As a side note - some songs from the "Blood on the Tracks" era such as "Tangled Up in Blue" & "Simple Twist of Fate" I feel could almost be the autobiography of an Elmore Leonard character; example :
"... She was soon to be divorced, I helped her out of a jam I guess but I must have used a little too much force"- I don't recall enough other lyrics to show what I mean. A beautiful, bitter-sweet song - but I digress [what's new].)

All I have read by Cohen is a short story ("F For Frankenstein" IIRC) I read many years ago in an anthology of modern lit titled "The Naked I" which at the time impressed me. He also wrote at least one novel,
"Beautiful Losers", which I have somewhere but haven't read & was an established (& ,I understand, an accomplished) poet before he became a folk singer, in his own words to cash in on Bob Dylan's success ("I knew I could sing better & write better songs than Dylan" - quoted from memory). So, to sum up : yes they are excellent lyricists but there are many of them around - these 2 guys have demonstrated literary talent in published works outside the pop arena.The Cave novel, by the way, drew a lot of comparisons with Iain Banks's 1st novel, "The Wasp Factory" which came out almost simultaneously & with which it shared certain themes, both being about disturbed adolescents & both being very dark. There's no suggestion that either author was aware of the other, they were both 1st novels, etc so no intimation of people stealing ideas from each other. Hope I've made myself clearer this time.


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