Then and Now Reviews


Aidan McFarland

For this month’s issue, I will be reviewing a book and two of my favorite albums. The book that I have chosen is Patti Smith’s Just Kids and the two albums I have picked include Lou Reed’s Transformer and Townes Van Zandt’s self-title album, Townes Van Zandt.

Let’s start out with Patti Smith’s Just Kids (2010), which is a memoir about Patti Smith, who is seen as the queen of punk rock. There are details about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, a photographer, and their lives in New York City throughout the late sixties and early seventies. I found this book to be absolutely fantastic! I have never been so engaged with a book before in my life. I love Smith’s writing and how she can describe New York City in a way where you feel as if you are walking the streets yourself. Also, her writing describing her relationship with Robert was done so well and really makes the reader understand their relationship, how they supported one another, and what they meant to each other. Now, I do not have much experience as a habitual reader, which is something that I am working towards, but this book really had an impact on me. I plan on revisiting this book many more times, and I could not recommend it enough to both people who want to start getting into reading and those who identify as bookworms.

Now let’s talk about Lou Reed’s Transformer, released in 1972, an album that I often listen to and one that I would consider a favorite of mine. This album relates to Just Kids by being released during the same era in New York City, which was a very transitional period in the art world. Lou Reed is a significant figure in the music world, with his poetic lyrics and how he combined both straightforward elements of music and experimental elements. This album is heavily praised by many and includes some of his most popular songs including “Walk On the Wild Side,” “Perfect Day,” and “Satellite of Love.” This album had influence on genres including punk rock, indie rock, and new wave. What appeals to me about this album is the variety of music in which there are both songs that you could listen to if you are feeling down in the dumps and want some sad tunes, or if you are in a splendid mood, there are songs that you can jam out to some fun rock ’n roll. Also, what appeals to me about this album is the lyrics, which are so visual and descriptive that they create an image in your head, like a book. An album that has had a big impact on me that I will continue to listen to till the end of time.

Finally, I will be discussing another one of my favorite albums of all time, Townes Van Zandt’s self-title album, Townes Van Zandt. I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to this album. Townes Van Zandt is personally one of my favorite artists in the country and folk genre. Themes in his music often includes being a drifter and dealing with loneliness in the American West. Some of his most popular songs, which are featured on this album include “Waitin’ Around To Die,” “I’ll Be Here in the Morning,” and “For the Sake of the Song.” Townes Van Zandt is another individual whose lyrics and words create such a strong image, and he also captures the essence of being a drifter in the American West. Personally, my two favorite songs off this album include “Waitin’ Around To Die” and “Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel,” which are not just two of my favorites of this album, but of all time. I recommend this album to you if you are interested in exploring country music of the seventies or want something new to listen to in your free time.