Saturday, July 22, 2023

The Namesakes

Talking of phonetic near-namesakes,  it has come to my attention that there's a lot of Simon Reynoldses out there. 

Simon was a very common name for baby boys in the '60s and '70s in the U.K. - a knock-on of the popularity of The Saint, with its dashing Simon Templar character, and then a bit later Simon Dee the "with it" TV presenter. Reynolds is a fairly ordinary name, not quite Smith or Brown level, but there's a lot of them around. 

So it figures that there'd be a bunch of Simon Reynoldses. 

What's surprising is how many are involved in journalism or being a public pundit. 

The first I noticed was a while back, the entertainment reporter Simon Reynolds who then worked for Digital Spy. For the most part he wrote about movies, but there was a period when he was doing some music reporting as well: big names like Rihanna and Britney Spears,. Now that did feel like it might create confusion - the obvious conclusion, easily jumped to, would be that this was me, outside my usual journalistic lane for sure, but plausibly self-same. 

There was also the Australian Siimon Reynolds (with the extra 'i', your guess as good as mine as to why!). Prolific author of human potential books, motivational speaker, high-performance coach for executives, director at an anti-aging clinic (longevity being an obvious extension of the interest in personal optimisation). Okay, not too much scope for confusion here (his whole thing is anti-matter to my matter really). And the bonus "i" helps a bit. 

More recently, there's been Simon Reynolds, the Horse & Hound columnist. He seems to have trenchant opinions about the state of show jumping.  (Also a horse breeder. Or as it says at H&H, a "horse producer" - is that the same thing? ).  At an equestrian website humorously titled The Gaitpost, you can find "10 Things You Didn't Know About Simon Reynolds."

And then in the last few months, I've noticed this new Simon Reynolds who's very active on Twitter - not a journalist but a vigorous opinionator as a byproduct of being a research fellow at the University of Winchester. His area of passionate expertise is "liturgy, theology and the arts, biblical studies, theology & public life". But some of his tweets stray into zones that feel quite "Simon Reynolds".

Like this one, recommending scholarly work on a particular ecclesiastical subject: 

quite a lot of Walter Brueggeman's writing on the biblical roots of the theology of place & how it applies to things like temple, land & pilgrimage might be useful. As would, by contrast, Michel Foucault's ideas around heterotopia (in e.g. The Order of Things).

His taste in music leans towards the modernist and avant-garde:

If it wasn't for Radio 3 in my teens I would never have discovered e.g. Howard Ferguson, Gesualdo or Pierre Schaffer. It wasn't the theory of their music that widened my horizons, it was simply the sound and the new worlds it opened up beyond what I already knew. 

I remember hearing the first broadcast (of the original version) of this from Guildford in the 1980s and was blown away by it, almost as if Howells and Tippett had fused into a new voice. I never tire of it. As John Scott used to say 'this is what church music should sound like.'

He has philosophical thoughts about the role of music in life... 

@CliveMyrieBBC might benefit from including Oliver Sacks's Musicophilia in his holiday reading to enhance his understanding of how music contributes to health and well-being - and how an appreciation of theory (e.g. in Mozart) better resources those doing the caring.

... and in the Church of England

No mention here of any support for music & the vital missionary role of musicians who nurture young people, give them a real stake in the Church's worship, raising aspiration & opportunity. Where you have kids in choirs you have families in church.

... and a kind of sono-political awareness: 

It's important to people on the North side that the bells of the Pro-Cathedral are the ones that sound from RTE three times each day as the Angelus is rung, giving this celebration of the incarnation a sense of rootedness in the gritty backstreets, hidden from main thoroughfares. 

Like the equestrian commentator Simon Reynolds, this Simon Reynolds often has sharp opinions about  the state of practice in his field: 

... The broadcasts are being drowned in endless chatter by well-meaning clergy desperate to tell us what the psalms, the readings and anthem 'mean' (not part of the monastic rooting of the service). 'The liturgy is not an educational exercise' (Kavanagh)

That stance - against meaning and well-meaning, in favour of the sacred ineffability of liturgy and against the legibly didactic - could be me circa Blissed Out

A former parish priest and succentor at St Paul's Cathedral, this Simon Reynolds is also an author - he's recently published Lighten Our Darkness: Discovering and Celebrating Choral Evensong. A music book! Here's a rather interesting interview with him about the tome and what appears to be a resurgence in popularity of choral music in a cathedral setting. (Verily a case of "sonic cathedrals of sound").

Now there's another clergyman Simon Reynolds - a rogue reverend whose trail of disgrace tickled me no end, although his Barnsley congregation had every reason to be unamused. This wicked vicar diddled his flock out of 24 thousand pounds worth of wedding, funeral, and graveyard memorial fees! But wait, it gets better! When he was being tried at Sheffield Crown Court, the jury went into deliberation - but  during the lunch break, the accused did a runner.  He never returned to the court! Instead, he booked a plane ticket to Dusseldorf and seemed to have every intention of hiding out on the Continent. There was a man hunt for Simon Reynolds! But someone must have talked him out of it, or he came to his senses - at any rate, four days later he handed himself in at the police station.  He got sent down for almost three years in the end.

There's a bunch more Simon Reynoldses out there - Simon Reynolds the actor and director. 

There's also an academic at the University of California in Santa Cruz whose double-barreled surname is Simon-Reynolds.

Ah, a new discovery - almost bridging the gap between me-Simon-Reynolds and Simon Reynolds the author of the book about Choral Evensong, there is a Simon Reynolds who is the choir leader of something called Rock Choir. Down Borehamwood, Northwood, Pinner, Ricksmanwood, Stanmore way. (Actually, this appears to be an actual nationwide phenomenon, nearly two decades old, with branches all over the U.K.).

Some kind of South Wales deejay,  yet another Simon Reynolds "brings you back your favourite memories from one of the greatest decades of music, the 90’s" - again overlapping a little bit with me and my world.

I do feel like over the years I have come across other SRs in the field of journalism or the media.  

Nominations welcomed - I feel like I need to keep tabs on these people. 

Going back to the phonetic near-namesakes, as well as Shawn Reynaldo, there is of course Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins and Bella Union fame. There's also sound recordist / producer / label founder Simon Reynell

I also feel that I might have been confused occasionally with Simon Williams who wrote for the NME during roughly the same period - if you mumble either name, it sounds pretty close to the other one. 

Sometimes I'll see myself described as "NME writer Simon Reynolds" or "ex-NME writer Simon Reynolds". Then again, this may be because of the way NME has come to stand in for "British Weekly Music Paper", so if you wrote for one of the others, in time it'll be said you wrote for NME

Funnily enough, this generic stand-in syndrome has started to happen to me...  as Brit journo of a certain vintage, as the chap who invents genre names...   almost like, "it was probably him, so we'll say it was him.... who else would it be?". Kind of flattering, I s'pose - achieving a sort of ubiquity and permanence such that your name magnetically draws attribution to it.  Unless you are said to have done the first music paper cover story on The Cranberries, or a quotation is attached to you that is the opposite of  the opinion you actually hold.  Both of which have happened. 

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Reynoldso versus Reynaldo

Shawn Reynaldo is a music writer who's just published his debut book First Floor: Reflections on Electronic Dance Culture through Velocity Press, which has a growing catalogue of interesting tomes on dance music.   

The title comes from Shawn's Substack / newsletter First Floor. Check out his columns like this recent one on the rise of spectacle within dance culture.  

Recently Shawn and I had a really enjoyable, wide-ranging chat about club culture, nostalgia, futurity, music journalism, genre-naming, and more. For a day or two, the conversation is accessible to non-subscribers here.

I put it to Shawn that we are phonetic near-namesakes.  Strangely, he said this had never occurred to him! Perhaps when I was starting my writing career, I should have put an 'o' on the end of my byline - it has a dashing, swashbuckling air.