Utne Blogs > Literature

Music Writing that Frequently Resonates

by Jake Mohan 

Tags: essay writing, music writing, Pitchfork, Mark Richardson, Resonant Frequency, American Idol, Bruce Springsteen,

freqFor nearly seven years, Mark Richardson has been quietly but consistently writing a column for Pitchfork called “Resonant Frequency.” His funny and far-reaching pieces tie all kinds of loose musical and cultural threads together in a cogent way that somehow cuts through a lot of the pretension and dismissive snark that typifies today’s music writing (a complaint often leveled against Richardson’s employer, in fact).

“Resonant Frequency” is at its best when trying to bridge the yawning gulf between mainstream popular music and the insular subculture of independent music. For example, Richardson’s most recent column makes some points about American Idol that I’d never considered, despite its being today's most ubiquitous pop-cultural phenomenon. And he makes compelling arguments for why and how hipsters have finally embraced Bruce Springsteen.

Richardson is also adept at putting certain artists or songs under the microscope, as he does with the Silver JewsBrian Eno, or "I Only Have Eyes For You." His voice is honest and searching, never wonkish or condescending, and always seasoned with just the right amount of autobiographical detail. Anyone hungry for really smart music writing should check out Richardson’s column archive.

Image by Phillie Casablanca, licensed under Creative Commons.