Always making the slant connections, Malcolm Gladwell has turned his wide-ranging curiosity into a podcast, Revisionist History. This ten-episode series has a tasty focus: “Revisionist History will go back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.”
Episode 7 is a good one: “Hallelujah.”
It begins with a story about Elvis Costello creating what he himself considered his worst record, back in 1984. “You don’t have to know anything about Elvis Costello or even like his music to be interested in this story,” Gladwell says, “I’m interested in how creativity works.”
From there he goes to Cézanne, Picasso, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan (Nobel dude!), John Cale, Jeff Buckley, sussing out how genius emerges. Music, he believes, is where you can most easily see the emergence of great creativity.
Luck, too, is at work in all this.
Stories about the making of music are a favorite of mine. (Still wishing I could have hung out in Abbey Road Studios and watched The Beatles at work.) (Yes, I’ve seen The Beatles: Eight Days a Week three times now.)
Here’s a basically gratuitous photo of the late, great Jeff Buckley, who features in this podcast.