Leaves of Grass

Iggy Pop, Tarwater & Alva Noto, 2016

Iggy Pop reads Walt Whitman with musical backing by Alva Noto and Tarwater. Just writing those words nearly makes my head explode. How did this happen? When did Iggy even meet these german techno dudes? What are their conversations like? Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

Whatever the circumstances, the outcome is way better than you would imagine. The backdrops are evocative and intriguing but never forceful or intrusive. They (thankfully) refrain from resorting to simply evocation of the poems' subject matter. Which, given the author, is probably for the best, as it might end up sounding akin to an audio channel from a porn movie. Iggy's wizened rasp proves a welcome vessel for Whitman's words. I even admit to being pleasantly surprised by his thoughtful readings (and clear enunciation).

This is so good in fact, it's made me rethink my relationship (or lack thereof) with Iggy Pop. He's one of those figures I know—given my music-snob status—I am supposed to wax poetic over; but he just does nothing for me. Even the Stooges. Yes, I can see how the Stooges informed so much of what I do love. I just don't care. It's not in my blood. Or, at least, it wasn't. Who would have thought it would take a 19th century poet to make me fall for a 20th century rock iconoclast.