Saturday, March 28, 2009

Put your best footnote forward

A pair of footnotes I've enjoyed recently. The first is from a history of Bob Dylan's song 'Like a Rolling Stone', the second from a non-fiction account of a murder which took place in Wiltshire in 1860.

"John Hammond told me once that I should take over Columbia Records," [Dylan producer Bob] Johnston says, as if telling the story of a broken treaty, of how his Apache ancestors were driven from their land. "And so I said, 'Well, how do you do it?' I went up and met with Paley and Stanton [William S. Paley, the legendary capitalist buccaneer who bought the tiny Columbia Broadcasting System in 1928, was chairman of the board of CBS, Frank Stanton had been president of the company since 1946] and those people up there, and they said, 'What would you do if you came into this?' And I says, 'Well, you're not gonna like it and you won't do it, but I think the first thing is, you should get your shit together. And by that, you should have the tenth floor of attorneys. And the eleventh floor of accountants. And the twelfth floor of music. And they should never be allowed to pass one another. Whatever you want to do, however you want to cheat, and fuck these artists around, is your opinion - but at least give them the opportunity of doing something, without people who tap their foot and whistle out of tune, and judge what's being made according to what somebody did last week, to keep their job six months longer.' And I said, 'If you do that, the music will always be the music, and those son-of-a-bitches will never have the chance at it, you can make all the money you want to, but they can't fuck with the music.' Paley said, 'That's very interesting.' John walked out and said, 'You didn't want the job, did you?'"
Greil Marcus, Like a Rolling Stone, London: 2005, fn. p143

***

To demonstrate the weird logic of homicidal monomania, [writer Joseph] Stapleton recounted a horrible story about a mild-mannered young man who was so obsessed with windmills that he would gaze at them for days on end. In 1843, friends tried to distract him from his fixation by moving him to an area with no mills. There the windmill man lured a boy into a wood, then killed and mutilated him. His motive, he explained, was the hope that as a punishment he would be taken to a place where there just might be a mill.
Kate Summerscale, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, London: 2008, fn. p236

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