Author Rob Sheffield Picks Karaoke Songs for Famous Authors: Imagine Wallace Stevens Singing the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning”

The poet Wal­lace Stevens‘ reclu­sive­ness would have made him an unlike­ly can­di­date for karaoke, but death is a great lev­el­er. One who’s shuf­fled off this mor­tal coil can no longer claim to be pub­lic­i­ty shy or high­ly pro­tec­tive of his pri­va­cy. Nor can he object if a liv­ing author—Rob Sheffield, say—selects a song for him to hypo­thet­i­cal­ly butch­er.

This is how a qui­et poet-accoun­tant of Stevens’ stature finds him­self hold­ing the mic in a beyond-the grave karaoke suite, fac­ing the scrolling lyrics of The Vel­vet Underground’s “Sun­day Morn­ing” (above).

The strange pair­ing is part of a pub­lic­i­ty stunt in ser­vice of Sheffield’s new book, Turn Around Bright Eyes: the Rit­u­als of Love and Karaoke. Vis­it Book­ish to see his ulti­mate karaoke tracks for four oth­er late authors, includ­ing Oscar Wilde and the ago­ra­pho­bic Emi­ly Dick­in­son.

It’s all in fun, nat­u­ral­ly, but Sheffield, the music jour­nal­ist and karaoke con­vert, is not just hav­ing an iron­ic laugh at his favorite poet’s expense. (Though no doubt Stevens’ poem, “Sun­day Morn­ing,” fac­tored heav­i­ly into the deci­sion-mak­ing process.)

Here’s how we know Sheffield is sin­cere. Karaoke became his unlike­ly emo­tion­al res­cuer fol­low­ing the untime­ly death of his first wife, and helped forge bonds with a new roman­tic part­ner.  Lis­ten to his pas­sion­ate descrip­tion of its trans­for­ma­tive effects in the video below. He could be a poet describ­ing his muse. Even die hard karaoke resis­tors may be moved to give it a whirl after hear­ing him speak.

May we sug­gest “Sun­day Morn­ing” for your first out­ingIf you’re feel­ing ner­vous, ded­i­cate it to Wal­lace Stevens. There in spir­it, sure­ly.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bill Mur­ray Reads Wal­lace Stevens Poems — “The Plan­et on The Table” and “A Rab­bit as King of the Ghosts”

Wal­lace Stevens Reads His Own Poet­ry

A Sym­pho­ny of Sound (1966): Vel­vet Under­ground Impro­vis­es, Warhol Films It, Until the Cops Turn Up

Find Read­ings by Wal­lace Stevens in our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books

Ayun Hal­l­i­day‘s favorite karaoke tune is the the Divinyls’ always-inap­pro­pri­ate “I Touch Myself.” Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.