Ezra Pound remains one of America's most genius and most controversial writers. His poetry has gone on to inspire countless artists, and as a literary editor and critic he was responsible for shaping the styles of T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Robert Frost, and Ernest Hemingway.
He was by most accounts a fierce friend who was dedicated to the cultivation of talent, willing to bail fellow writers out of jail and get them published, in addition to his own considerable talent. That being said, he went just a little... off.
The atrocities of Word War I deeply affected Pound, who blamed capitalism for the whole mess. This ended up with him feeling to Italy and helping the fascist regime by broadcasting hate-filled diatribes against America, FDR and Jews.
He was arrested for treason in Italy in 1945, and apparently went insane while in military custody and was declared unfit to stand trial, at which point he was committed to St. Elizabeth's for 12 years until he was finally released on this date in 1958.
Well, we're always in the mood for a good, post-asylum party, and therefore dedicate this week's playlist to songs Pound inspired.
The Cat Empire, "The Crowd": As you'll see, Australians apparently love to drop Pound's name into song. Cat Empire quotes the entirety of Pound's poem "In a Station of the Metro" in "the Crowd."
The apparition of these faces in the crowd ; Petals on a wet, black bough.
TISM, "Ezra Pound -- Axe King": If Freddie Mercury and Jello Biafra had somehow produced a family, it would've been Australia's TISM. The band was beautiful, brilliant, and insane in a way that should cause nothing but envy.
This short little ditty comes from our favorite TISM release, 1988's Great Truckin' Songs of the Renaissance, which we highly recommend you buy on iTunes because having these short, bizarre bits of music pop up on shuffle is a great way to improve your day.
Better Than Ezra, "Ezra Pound": Despite once having been hurled out of a Better Than Ezra concert like a Frisbee by security after we accidentally stumbled into a VIP area, we still think very highly of the Louisiana band. They've never said definitely what the origin of their name is, a source of personal frustration, but we've always thought it was a bitch-slap to the latter-day craziness of a once-great man.
Regina Spektor, "Pound of Flesh": Speaking of bitch-slaps, we're pretty sure that Ms. Spektor is taking Pound to school in this tune.
Spektor is Jewish, and as we mentioned before Pound did much in advancing the cause of anti-Semitism. "Pound of Flesh" continuously chastises him for not accepting responsibility for being wrong, and the pompous attitude that she ascribes to Pound asking for a pound of flesh can't be anything other than an acidic dig.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Bob Dylan, "Desolation Row": Pound is mentioned amongst a cast of thousands in this rambling 11-minute song, and like most Dylan works from Highway 61 Revisited it requires a much deeper look than we have room here to delve into.
Originally, we were going to share an amazing marionette performance of the tune, but they skipped the Pound verse, as did My Chemical Romance in the version they record for the The Watchmen soundtrack. In the end, there's just Dylan, we guess.