I recently received word that reviews of Songs of William Blake are forthcoming in two academic journals: William Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly and Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (also known as ISLE). As its name suggests, the first of these two publications is the flagship academic journal of William Blake Studies. The second is published by the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, or ASLE. During the past eight years I have been an active member of ASLE, not only because of my interest in ecological literary history (which is reflected in my various publications on Blake’s environmental poetics, including my online article on Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion), but because I am also a full-fledged member of ASLE’s exuberant musical ensemble The Mongrel Dogs, with whom I have often performed Blake songs. (At the last ASLE conference, which was held earlier this year in South Carolina, one of The Dogs, Ian Marshall, covered versions of my Blake songs that were better than my own renditions.)
Given that most of the publicity for Songs of William Blake has come from outside the world of academia, it will be interesting to see what the reviewers for these two academic journals will have to say about the CD. Undoubtedly it will be different from what has been written in non-academic venues. Yesterday my local newspaper, The Prince George Citizen, included a very nice story about Songs of William Blake. After mentioning that I was once a high school dropout, the author of the review said of me that “under the patina of high philosophy is a grungy rock star.” Although I’m flattered, I must set the record straight: my own music is in fact totally folked up; Pearl Jam and the ghost of Kurt Cobain need not worry about me treading on their toes anytime soon!