Music criticism for the Midd masses

Cover art by Lingji Hon '11 (forgive my fuzzy photo)

“Mondegreen” is not just a weird way of saying “green world.”

Mondegreen is Middlebury College’s music zine–though the term “zine” sounds a little too superficial and slapdash to describe the significant work that clearly went into the publication.

Dictionaries everywhere (and Wikipedia) agree that a mondegreen is a mishearing of a lyric or phrase that gives it new meaning. So, for example, when I was little, I misunderstood the line “you can dance, you can jive” in Abba’s “Dancing Queen” to mean “you can dance, you can die.” That’s a (macabre) mondegreen.

Besides just being a cool name for a music magazine, the title reflects the publication’s mission to help readers re-examine what music means–to re-listen and create new meaning.

The magazine is packed with good stuff, and not just for hipsters.

  • You might think a music magazine in a small college would be all about reviews of artists the authors had never met.  Not so!  There are great interviews with musicians inside and outside the College that make the magazine real and engaging. Greg Dorris, member of Otter Nonsense and Middlebury’s resident mashup artist (alias Change Your Plans), is profiled. He talks frankly about the often pretty simple reasons and goals behind the two mashup albums he has produced, Demoing the Salsa and Pushing and Pulling.
  • The editors (Joanna Rothkopf, Toren Hardee and Brad Becker-Parton) break up all the essays with collagey artwork and quirky features, like a timeline of “great beards in music history.”
  • I don’t know anything about music. Therefore, I was pleased that the “reviews” section included some higher-profile artists like the Decemberists and Radiohead to ease in ignoramuses like me. The big names anchored the more obscure reviews: “I’ve heard this album, and it got an A-, so now I know roughly what an A- means in the context of Mondegreen.”

Mondegreen is available in dining halls, the library, Axinn, and sundry locations around campus.  Unfortunately, there’s no digital version to show our off-campus readers.

Just for fun, here are two historical Mondegreen covers, one from 2006 and the other from 2007, both drawn by Paxson Woelber ’08: