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Literary Mixtape Vol. 15

Side A:

Side B:

May 12, 2024

This week, Steve Albini died. There's been a lot of ink spilled on Albini's influence on art, particularly on underground and alt music. He touched hundreds of brilliant songs and guided musicians to some of their best work; his engineering discography is a wonder. You've likely spent the week revisiting—and discovering—just how widespread his legacy is.

I guess that's the thing I'm pondering this week—legacy. For every tweet, blog post, or article celebrating life-changing music Albini helped bring to existence, there were just as many pointing to what a fucking cool guy he was. I don't say cool in that gate-keeping, holier-than-thou way. People poured forth with anecdotes about meeting him at gas stations; getting polite emails back for impossible, hail-mary requests; about thoughtful Reddit responses to AMA sessions. They shared their favourite clips of Albini in no-bullshit talks with Nardwar and Anthony Bourdain, speaking firmly about artistry and capitalism and just about every other thing. He was, as they say, a real one.

Legacy is something a lot of artists grapple with—how can we create a body of work that stands the test of time? That impacts others? I don't get the impression that Albini was all that hung up on it, and I think that his legacy is stronger for it. He focused on making good shit with people he admired and staying true to his principles while he did it. In the end, that's all we have control over. Awards, accolades, validation—we don't have control over that, and none of it really matters.

We like to think writing is solitary, but it isn't; so many beta readers and friends and fans and, if we're lucky, agents and editors and promo teams and all kinds of others touch our work and guide it to the world. Keep making good shit with people you admire. Stay true to yourself while you do it. Steve taught us that's all that counts, in the end.

Note for anyone waiting on me to read subs: I'm behind, my apologies! I'm moving cities in early June and it's taking up a lot of my bandwidth. I'll be getting to your stuff, I promise. I can't wait.

Rounding up this week's mixtape:

"Spaceship" will make your eyes water by proxy as Julián Martinez chops onions and contemplates Kanye at a college job he hates. Julián's another repeat offender here at Major 7th and I'm happy to have him back. He's been on an absolute heater this year, watch his work carefully.

Get your hands dirty in "For No One", Robbie Herbst's foray into a good turn while gardening for a neighbour. Cottage core insanity summer, here we come.

Romy Ewing's "Kids" keeps a light touch in two stanzas. I'm not sure if we're fighting the fainting sensation, or giving in to it, but I like it that much better for not knowing.

"Rainbow Meat" makes voyeurs of us for a backseat make-out sesh-turned-body swap, all tangled limbs and tongues. Thanks Caleb Bethea for a being another M7 alum returned to our pages (and thanks Caleb for running the band t-shirt subcall while I move! Today's your last day to submit!)

I can't tell you how many "the day Kurt died" submissions I've gotten but I can tell you that Lori Barrett's "Lithium" stands out; it'll probably be the only one I ever take memorializing the day, because it nails how Cobain's death at once pierced and strengthened Gen X disaffect in one single instant.

In an odd twist of coincidence, we're bidding Steve Albini goodbye with "Farewell Transmission", a Sean Meggeson poem named for the Albini-produced track which drops us at the doorstep of an underworld and dares us to take a step forward.

Thanks for making and sending your good shit, always.




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