RARA-AVIS: Re: is brian setzer's new record noir?

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 09 Oct 2009

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    If you want it to be.

    But not because he says so. Or Carly Simon -- who also did a "noir" album -- says so.

    There's nothing inherently noir or hard-boiled in most instrumental music -- only what the listener brings to it.

    Even all that brassy, horny jazz associated with old crime films and TV shows isn't necessarily "noir." Well-suited to it? Maybe. But on it's own, without any association to a film or TV show, would we hear it and automatically go "That's noir."?

    If DOUBLE INDEMNITY was scored with bluegrass or Celtic reels or electro-pop, would we automatically associate bluegrass and Celtic reels and electro-pop as "noir?

    TV's CRIME STORY a few years ago featured Dell Shannon's RUNAWAY -- a song that also featured prominently in Lucas' AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Is it now a crime song? I wah-wah-wah-wonder.

    Now, songs with actual lyrics -- that's a whole different thing. Some guy singing about sitting in Old Sparky waiting for the switch to be pulled, wishing his baby was sitting in his lap? That's dark, sir, no matter how you play it.

    So, is Setzer trying to write actual noir music, or just music that will make us think of old noir films? There's a difference.


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