Select Page

David Byrne has an interesting piece up on his Journal, meditating on his participation in the recent Dark Was The Night benefit concerts at Radio City Music Hall. (The DWTN compilation, it should be noted, is pretty damn fantastic, with a few notable exceptions, such as the sprawling Sufjan Stevens trainwreck, which I quickly deleted from my iPod. It almost seemed a joke: after all, he can write perfectly listenable music.)

The upshot of Byrne’s piece is that the collection of artists featured on the double CD, many of whom performed together earlier this month, represent a triumph of art rock over a more decadent, bratty, or trashy rock and roll aesthetic. Byrne, who appears on the album in one of its stand-out tracks, a collaboration with Dirty Projectors, also sees this set of artists — many of whom are Brooklyn-based, part of what could loosely be termed a “scene” — as representing something of a renaissance in American rock in which commercialism is losing ground to serious artistry:

Besides their dedication to their art, most are successful — but one
senses that fame wasn’t their primary engine for choosing a career in
music. There was no hierarchy in this group — everyone was treated as
an equal, and participated with everyone else where they could. Many
were already acquaintances or friends. Times have changed. No one was
drunk, on drugs or two hours late for rehearsal. There was no “rock
star” behavior. That could sound boring — but such rebellious, clich