There's a poem in the new issue of the LRB by August Kleinzahler, 'A History of Western Music: Chapter 74’. In 2007, in a Paris Review interview, he was asked what prompted the series:

I was in Ireland and everywhere I went they were playing the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth. It seemed so odd in that context of airports and supermarkets. Then I went to London and in every pub there was Frank Sinatra. There was a special on Sinatra on TV and they were running Tony Rome on TV late at night for a week. So I began writing about Ireland and London through the filter of Mahler and Sinatra. I didn’t realize it was going to be a series but in those days I had my column in my head all the time and was looking for contexts to discuss music. So I fell into this idea of approaching all sorts of music in this fashion.

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