Continuum Books 33 1/3 series is basically a music nerd’s dream on the page. The idea is simple but effective: one author, one seminal album, one story. Mass native and longtime music critic Michael Fournier’s “Double Nickels on the Dime” tackles the widely influential punk band, The Minutemen.
So who is this book for, die hard Minutemen fans only, or would music fans in general find something of interest?
The Minutemen were huge music fans, and thought they were wearing their hearts on their sleeves. In their eyes, the references they made in their music were obvious homages to their influences, but in practice were so wrapped in code and specifics that the humor largely went over the heads of their fanbase. I think music fans speak in their own vernacular — I know me and my friends do, especially on Monday nights when we get together to geek out. Minutemen fans will dig my book, but the common threads of friendship and secret languages/histories will make it fun to read for any fan of music.
Who is the Minutemen fan anyway?
I didn’t have any idea before I went out on tour. I’m in Seattle right now, a few hours before me last West Coast reading, and I’m still not able to pigeonhole the band’s fanbase. There have been teenagers, beatniks, peaceniks, hippies, punks, skaters and academics at my readings.
You started out publishing your own zines in New Hampshire. Have blogs watered down the medium now that it’s so easy to foist your opinions on the world?
Blogs can be a lot of fun, but they’ll never have the artifact status that zines do. It still blows my mind when I look at back issues of Forced Exposure and see which records were coming out in the fall of ‘84, you know?
Speaking of blogs, on yours you mention you’ve reviewed every album you own in alphabetical order. Are you some kind of masochist?
I didn’t think I was until I got to the 40-plus Jandek albums in my collection.
Have you read many of the other 33 1/3 series books? Have a favorite?
I’ve read a bunch. I enjoyed the one about the MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams” album, and thought that the Radiohead installment was beamed in from another planet (in a good way). I’m looking forward to reading the new Captain Beefheart and PJ Harvey volumes. The forthcoming Public Enemy book is gonna be awesome --it will detail every sample used on “Nation Of Millions.” Dorks ahoy!
You teach a “history of punk rock” course at Tufts. What is that like?
My course, like the Minutemen, emphasizes that punk is whatever we make it to be (except punk never has midterms or paper assignments).
Originally published in the Boston Metro.