A Robert Hilburn Follow-Up
Follow-up questions for the LA Times' automatonic pop critic, inspired by his new online Q&A column (www.calendarlive.com/music/cl-ask-hilburn.storygallery). Original questions are neatly summarized because some of these people tend to be as long-winded as Hilburn himself.
HILBURN ON LAURYN HILL
"I didn't see Lauryn Hill's show at the Hollywood Bowl because I went to see it the night before at the Sun in Anaheim. The audience at the Sun seemed very supportive."
FOLLOW-UP: Mr. Hilburn, did you not notice the huge letters on the side of the Building Formerly Known As the Sun that read THE GROVE OF ANAHEIM? Did you know the venue changed names several months back? Do you think if the Times still had any regular OC music writers left, one of them would have pointed this out to you?
HILBURN ON HOW MANY LISTENS IT TAKES TO "GET" AN ALBUM
"With the recent Eminem album, for instance, I probably listened to it four times over three days before writing about it. The all-time record was the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. It was such a difficult album to absorb that I must have listened to it eight or nine times before I felt comfortable in my judgment of it."
FOLLOW-UP: Mr. Hilburn, how, exactly, did you arrive at the proper comfort level? Did you, like most Americans, lock yourself in your basement with a kegger of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a fat doobie and a bag of Cheetos and blast Exile on the hi-fi? Because if you had, it certainly would have only taken two or three listens, don't you agree?
HILBURN ON COVERING LOCAL ARTISTS
"Because we have limited space to cover such a massive pop universe, we've tended over the years to look at music purely in terms of artistry, not geography—by which I mean we didn't think we should give extra points (in trying to determine which acts deserved coverage) to those that happened to live in our area codes. The idea was that if someone loved music, he was as interested in a good act from Portland as a good act from LA."
FOLLOW-UP: Mr. Hilburn, does it not say "Los Angeles" on your paper's masthead, not "Portland"?
HILBURN ON IKE AND TINA TURNER
"The Ike & Tina Turner Revue was one of the great live acts of all time. If, through magic, the Revue was playing in one theater and Tina alone in the other, I'd go see the Revue five nights out of five."
FOLLOW-UP: Mr. Hilburn, if, through magic, the Ike & Tina Turner Revue was playing in one theater, and your all-time favorite Bruce Springsteen was pleasuring himself in another theater and your other all-time favorite Bono was igniting his farts in another theater and your other all-time favorite Bob Dylan was waiting out front in convertible to take you on a road trip to all the minor-league ballparks in the country, and you had to decide which to choose, would, like, your head explode?
HILBURN ON THE ROLLING STONES' EXILE ON MAIN STREET
"I gave the album a very positive review and was one of the few critics at the time to like Exile on Main Street. . . . Years later, I was interviewing Keith Richards, and he remembered how I liked the album. It's hard to imagine Keith sitting down and reading reviews, but he remembered it after all those years."
FOLLOW-UP: Mr. Hilburn, isn't it hard to imagine Keith Richards remembering, let alone reading?
HILBURN ON FINDING NEW MUSICIANS TO WRITE ABOUT
"David Olney is another Nashville writer who I have paid only slight attention to over the years—only to discover recently (after repeated kicks in the pants by Emmylou Harris) that he is quite special."
FOLLOW-UP: Can we kick you in the pants, too, Robert? We don't want to tell you about anybody—we just need the workout.
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