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Words and music

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at The Wheeler Centre

Critical Failure: Popular Music

Critiquing music can be fraught: whether it was Miles Davis or Elvis Costello who said it first, ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture’. Our first event on the art of music criticism focuses on popular music.

From street presses to mainstream broadcasting, what does it mean to critically engage with music in Australia, and are we doing it well?

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Portrait of Chris Johnston

Chris Johnston

Chris Johnston is a senior writer and music critic with the Age.

Portrait of Clem Bastow

Clem Bastow

Clem Bastow is an award-winning cultural critic whose work appears regularly in The Saturday Paper, Fairfax newspapers and The Guardian. She has written about film and television for journals including The Lifted Brow and Kill Your Darlings, and books including Investigating Stranger Things (Palgrave Macmillan), ReFocus: The Films Of Elaine May (Edinburgh University Press) and Copyfight (NewSouth Publishing). She co-wrote and co-presented the 2017 ABC podcast Behind The Belt, a documentary “deep dive” into professional wrestling.

Based in Melbourne, she holds a Master of Screenwriting from VCA, and teaches screenwriting at University of Melbourne. Clem is currently undertaking a PhD in action cinema and screenwriting at RMIT University.

Portrait of Mikey Cahill

Mikey Cahill

Mikey Cahill writes the Rock City column for News Ltd.

Portrait of Lawrie Zion

Lawrie Zion

Lawrie Zion is a senior lecturer in La Trobe University’s journalism.

Words and music

All of our lives have soundtracks. We cherish certain songs that have meant something to us in our lives, lyrics that have helped us through tough times and inspired us to do better, or think differently. Similarly, everyone has a shortlist of seminal books, or short stories, or poems that have made a difference to them – pieces of writing that have formed who they are.

Who do our favourite writers listen to? What do the musicians we admire love to read? In each event, our guest writer will highlight two pieces of music that have inspired their writing, while our guest musician tells us about two pieces of writing that have helped shape their musical direction. We eavesdrop on their exchange of treasures, and the conversation that ensues.


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