Perfect Sound Forever’s Summer Session with The Dean of Rock Critics, Robert Christgau
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on February 25, 2008
Robert Christgau, of course otherwise known as the Dean of Rock Critics, will be editing the June 2008 edition of Perfect Sound Forever.
Needless to say, the folks there are pretty excited about the prospect of having the Dean serving as guest editor for the summer issue.
“We here at Perfect Sound Forever are very proud to be working with Robert Christgau on our June 2008 issue,” said Jason Gross, editor and main scribe. “So far, we’re mulling over the papers but I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen so far – this could be the next generation of music scribes.”
The Dean has been a longtime supporter of PSF, going from interview subject to contributor to editor (though, as Gross asserts, he likely won’t take the next step to become owner).
For this special issue, Christgau will select from his Princeton University class’ articles, many of which were final papers that the class submitted and cover a wide range of subjects (at this point is still being worked out). According to both Gross and Christgau, the promising young writers may turn out to be the next heralded generation of music journalists.
“Since PSF has long worked with up-and-coming wordsmiths, we’re also pleased to be giving these writers a forum and one of their first forays into the world of journalism,” adds Gross.
Yet, before that, the decision for Christgau to even take part was, according to him, very simple.
“I’ve taught a required music history and writing course for REMU, NYU’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, for four years, and also taught a course in cultural journalism at Princeton last fall,” the writer said by weekend email. He also shed some light into the student thought process.
“The REMU students usually don’t conceive themselves as writers, although every term one or two get the bug, and many more prove to be excellent writers once they’re shown how, with a special facility for describing music because a career in music is their life plan (and, quite often, music is their life). Most of my Princeton students were not music specialists, but I got a few good music papers there as well.
“Since some of this work taught me stuff, and much of it seemed much better than most of what I encounter online, I thought it would be cool to make the best of it available to the public, and Jason volunteered an issue of PSF for the purpose.”
But, Christgau shares that the process hasn’t been that even.
“There have been setbacks – lost manuscripts and files, students studying abroad, and in one case proprietary information that the student wasn’t supposed to use outside of an academic context. But we should have an issue, with topics ranging from pre-Stankonia OutKast and the metal band Killswitch Engage to Janet and Britney and The Hills, from the Shirelles to Cajun music. Still need to sort it out, but those are some candidates.”
Christgau graduated from Dartmouth University in 1962. While there, he explored his interests in jazz to rock. Ever the consumate east coaster, Christgau went on to writer for Playboy, Spin, aside from Creem. After teaching at the California Institute of the Arts, he became an adjunct professor in the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University (NYU).
Likewise, among other things, Perfect Sound Forever is the longest running and one of the most entertaining and successful online music publications.