It's always a good thing to have an idea and roll it around on your tongue, trying to figure out exactly how it tastes, whether it's bitter and chemical or it's smoky and savory. I think good ideas are a mix of the two - links of juicy Italian sausage with little pockets of laundry detergent just waiting to shock you awake. Ideas that do that to you are the best ones to explore and last night, two book ideas I've toyed with came up in conversations with multiple people, and they both are striking me as great ideas with blatant flaws that could sink them.
The first is doing a history/collection of stories of the blues and R&B in Baton Rouge. I know enough people that know stuff that have been forthcoming , offering the coffers of their personal scrapbooks and knowledge. The tricky part would be making this compelling and honest, which is the tricky part with anything.
My other idea, over whose validity which I vacillate a lot, is the Steely Dan book, or more specifically, the anti-Steely Dan book. I am not a fan of the Dan, in fact throughout most of my music listening life I considered them the worst, the depth of what I did not like about music, but a couple years ago, I discovered I was rather alone in this opinion. I would casually mention, in the well-do-you-like-so-and-so music conversations I thrive on, that I hate Steely Dan, and it would be like I said I hated babies, slack-jawed disbelief. I used to think this kind of reaction meant I must be on the right path, but as I get older, and have seen my own opinions and tastes stretch and bend with the wind, I'm less confident in my resolve. I started this project of critically re-listening to Steely Dan to get a fresh perspective a while back, but like most decent conceptual quests, I got three segments into it and then backed off to less esoteric concerns. Looking at other projects equally marooned in the harbor of creativity, I can evidently get three chapters into anything.
But last night, I was in one of those conversations and made my cursed admission and some burnout lurker within earshot felt this to be incendiary enough a statement to compel him to invite himself in and correct the thinking of a complete stranger, which is a beautiful thing in human discourse. If not loving motherfucking Steely Dan can set that kind of dynamic up out of the breeze, I think this book needs to be written.
Here are my first stabs at this from my old blog, and these are stabs in every sense of the word, with viscera dripping off the blade, but far from being particularly useful incisions. But they were fun to write. Part 1, part 2 and part 3