DUMBO — On Wednesday, March 21 at the powerHouse Arena, 37 Main St., from 7 to 9 p.m., Rick Moody will present his new collection of music writing, On Celestial Music and Other Adventures in Listening.
He will be joined by author and musician Wesley Stace, aka John Wesley Harding, for this evening of live music and discussion.
Moody has been writing about music just as long as he has been writing, and in On Celestial Music, he dazzles us with his creative genius and immerses himself in music old and new.
Throughout, Moody notes his own development on his musical journey. In the first chapter, Moody gives us the anatomy of the word “cool,” reminding us that, in the postwar 40s, it was infused with the feeling of jazz music but is now merely a synonym for “neat.”
His essay “On Celestial Music,” which was included in Best American Essays 2008, begins with a lament for the loss in recent music of the vulnerability expressed in Otis Redding’s masterpiece, “Try a Little Tenderness;” moves on to Moody’s infatuation with the ecstatic music of the Velvet Underground; and ends with an appreciation of classical composer Arvo Pärt.
Moody also covers plenty of contemporary groups. He includes a beautiful discussion of the band Magnetic Fields’ love songs, discusses Jeff Tweedy and his band Wilco’s evolution, and takes on Shane McGowan of the Pogues. He also writes about the Lounge Lizards and reflects on John Lurie’s brilliance, and discusses Meredith Monk, who once recorded a song inspired by Moody’s own story “Boys.”
Moody is the author of the novels Garden State, which won the Pushcart Press Editors’ Book Award; The Ice Storm, Purple America, and The Diviners; two collections of stories, The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven and Demonology; and a memoir, The Black Veil. He lives in Brooklyn.