Posted by s woods on March 12, 2013
A meaty, beaty, big, and bouncy interview with Dave Marsh
By Scott Woods (February 2001)
I recently called rock critic Dave Marsh — one of the founders of Creem (and more recently, Rock and Rap Confidential), former editor at Rolling Stone, author of a dozen or so bestselling rock tomes (including The Heart of Rock and Soul, his personal run-down of the 1,001 greatest singles of all-time), and the man who first paired (in print, anyway) the words “punk” and “rock” — at his home in Connecticut to find out why he bothers to still do what he does, to pin him down on his “disco perplex,” to bend his ear on Napster, Springsteen, anything else I could think of. I’d planned on chatting for less than an hour, but we went on for double that (and I’m sure we could’ve doubled that). During the interview, I was serenaded with all sorts of kooky records playing in the background, from O-Town to Vitamin C to some girlie-country thing to what sounded like a cheap Woody Guthrie imitation (unless it was actually Guthrie; highly possible given the no-fi acoustics of my phone receiver).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Scott: As one of the few people who’s consistently written rock criticism for over 30 years, I’m curious to know what your primary motivation to continue to write about it is.
Dave: I guess if that was a question you thought of very much you wouldn’t…I mean, there was never a…
Scott: I guess what I’m getting at is…
Dave: I don’t mean it’s not a good question, I don’t have a good answer. [laughs] Tell me what you were getting at.
Scott: I guess that when you look at old issues of Creem and that sort of thing–or if you read some of the other interviews on this site–there just seems to be a lot of people from that period [the early '70s] who don’t seem to be doing it any more.
Dave: Some of them are dead, so I guess the first reason is I’m still alive. [laughs] You know? And the second reason is, what’s there to do that’s better? I don’t know–my lack of need for responsibility is very helpful here.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Dave Marsh, Interviews, rockcritics Archives | 4 Comments »
Posted by s woods on January 29, 2013
Devo’s Paradox: Why some art can’t be appreciated in its own time. By Noel Murray, AV Club.
Nearly a year old, this piece, but just discovered today. Akron’s spud boys vs. four seventies rock critics–Christgau, Bangs, Dave Marsh, and Tom Carson–none of whom reserve too many kind words for the band (though of the four, only Marsh seems to out and out despise them). Clearly, Murray is some kind of Devo fan, though in a piece that’s commendable for its evenhandedness, he only overstates the case for them once, I think, with the specious (at best) claim that “today, Are We Not Men? routinely lands on lists of the best and/or most significant albums of all time”–really? I haven’t noticed that at all (it’s possible we’re not looking at the same lists in the same publications). His strongest point, however, is his assertion that, in some instances (particularly, I’d suggest, for a band like Devo, who never lacked for a manifesto) negative criticism actually helps tell a band’s story–it completes, or anyway fills in, the picture they’re trying to create in the first place. Says Murray:
“It’s important to note, though, that the Devo skeptics weren’t ‘wrong’ per se. Devo intended to provoke with its science-fiction mission statements and its emotionless renditions of ’60s party music, so the affronted reactions that the band received from some quarters weren’t just expected, but to some extent, desired. Art and criticism are supposed to be in conversation with each other, and the Devo-haters were just answering the band in the terms its members had established. Marsh in particular makes a persuasive case that Devo is more shallow and disposable than smart. He just fails to be as persuasive when he all but demands that the young people of the late ’70s not take any pleasure in this catchy, exciting music.”
Elsewhere he notes:
“Tom Carson and Robert Christgau’s dismissive, defensive reactions to Devo are part of that band’s story, and now help explain what Devo was and what it meant, circa 1978. Those guys did their jobs–and well, I’d say.”
Funny thing is, I bet Devo agreed with that, too.
Don’t fight the urge.
Posted in Archival, Dave Marsh, Lester, Xgau | Tagged: bangs, christgau, devo, marsh, tom carson | 5 Comments »
Posted by s woods on January 23, 2013
An interview with Carola Dibbell at Black Clock:
BLACK CLOCK: You wrote rock criticism on and off for thirty years and have spoken before about the leakage between fiction and music writing. Can you explain what you mean by that? What role has music played in your fiction?
CAROLA DIBBELL: In the early seventies, I was surprised and impressed by the rock writing in Dave Marsh’s and Lester Bangs’ Creem, and a little later in the Village Voice music section, edited by Robert Christgau, my husband. In this fledgling and disreputable form, you could be vulgar, personal, amateurish and formally ambitious all at once and actually be read. It gave me a chance to do things with the voice and tone and disorder I was already exploring in fiction that was not actually read. It took longer for me to bring those rock critic elements into my fiction except, I suppose, that writing about pop led me to contemplate genre fiction. Then, in the late nineties, when my fiction was going nowhere, I made a conscious decision to let the rock critic write the fiction, sort of, and the fiction changed a lot.
Posted in Creem, Dave Marsh, Interviews, Lester, Village Voice, Xgau | Leave a Comment »
Posted by s woods on July 26, 2011
(More from Billboard via Google Books, Nov. 1981)
Posted in Archival, Dave Marsh | Leave a Comment »
Posted by s woods on July 21, 2011
Back on March 26, 1979, I mean.
Posted in Archival, Dave Marsh, Xgau | Leave a Comment »
Posted by s woods on July 17, 2011
Excellent Christgau interview/profile by David Cohen at The New Zealand Listener.
“Greil, Dave [Marsh] and I were at one time very good friends, but Dave and I are no longer friends at all,” recalls Christgau. “We shared political assumptions and were all a part of the counter-culture, even though we all were extremely sceptical about drugs and the religious strain of hippiedom, which in fact was the dominant strain.
“But even back then we had serious political differences. And, as you know, it’s the curse of the minority-left to be sectarian. Our musical tastes were completely different, too. These days I would call Dave a cultural conservative, and Greil has become a person with, ah, extremely intense and narrow interests: he loves what he loves and ignores almost everything else.”
(Update: I thought this was a new interview… it’s not, I’ve just never seen it before.)
Posted in Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, Interviews, Xgau | Leave a Comment »
Posted by s woods on June 15, 2011
Bit of an eyestrain, but here’s a scan of Dave Marsh’s Rolling Stone obituary for Gloria Stavers, from May 1983 (featured on a site entirely dedicated to Stavers).
Posted in Dave Marsh, Gloria Stavers, Obits, PDFs and Scans | Leave a Comment »
Posted by s woods on October 18, 2008
It might have been relevant in the previous post — the Eddy interview — to link to Randall Roberts’ lengthy analysis of The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (the second — or blue — edition) from a paper he presented at EMP a few years ago. I still need to fully re-read the thing myself, but my impression is that what he says about the guide is (somewhat? perhaps?) in contradiction to what Chuck says — but, as I said, I haven’t yet re-read it .
Anyway, I’ll put it out there for anyone interested (and would be curious to know what other people think of those early editions of the RS Guide). Here’s Roberts’s piece, The Rolling Stone Record Guide and the Creation of the Canon.
Posted in Dave Marsh | 17 Comments »
Posted by s woods on January 27, 2008
Tom Ewing’s latest Pitchfork column, which employs an old Dave Marsh Smiths vs. Lionel Richie dichotomy as a launch pad, contains a lot to chew on, examining as it does the dubious critical fallback position of “20 years from now, people will still be listening to this [i.e., this record that I'm praising] whereas few or no one will still be listening to that [i.e., this record that someone else is praising but which you yourself don't care for].” I bet there’s not a rock critic on the planet who hasn’t written from this vantage point at some time or other, but even to call this position “dubious” is rather charitable. As Ewing points out, it’s a position that can’t really be argued with (unless, perhaps, your name is Mork).
Myself, I fear that I have too often relied on the opposite tack, which Ewing mentions only briefly:
“What strikes me is that the test of time card is played to win internal arguments as much as external ones. It’s often the justifier for something being top of a list, not fourth, or it turns up ruefully acknowledged when talking about a pleasure-perceived evanescent: I’m sure I won’t be listening to this next year but… Posterity here is a cop in the listener’s head.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Blabbin', Dave Marsh | 5 Comments »
Posted by s woods on January 24, 2008
Final installment of Bill Holdship’s Creem history/memoir/book review here, at Metro Times. A much deeper dig than the first installment into the story, the in-fighting, the book, etc.
A few disagreements along the way, the most major one being in regards to this:
“Of course, revisionism has been going on for a long time now. In 2000, music critic Simon Reynolds took potshots at Bangs (and me) on his blog, writing that he’d read Bangs’ stuff in CREEM just recently, and while a lot of it was very good, a great deal of it wasn’t all that. But Reynolds obviously couldn’t read it in full context. So that’s sort of like me saying ‘I listened to Elvis in the ’80s,’ or ‘I listened to the Sex Pistols in the ’00s, and I just don’t know what all the outrage was about.’ Take it from someone who was there reading him at the time: Lester Bangs was great, even if it’s harder these days to accept, as Greil Marcus once put it, ‘that the best writer in America could write almost nothing but record reviews.’”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Creem, Dave Marsh | 15 Comments »
Posted by s woods on January 13, 2008
CBC had an interesting interview with Dave Marsh recently, discussing his new book about The Beatles Second Album. Part of the Wed. Jan. 9 podcast, available here.
Posted in Dave Marsh, Interviews | Leave a Comment »
Posted by s woods on December 3, 2007
The New York Observer does a follow-up piece on the Creem debacle, focusing more on Marsh’s, Whitall’s, et al. battles with the ‘zines legacy (and less on the lawsuit).
Seems to me there’s an underlying, more interesting battle going on here–a sideshow to Matheu vs. the Creem critics–that being seventies Creemsters vs. eighties Creemsters (witness Whitall’s comment: “‘John Mellencamp?’ she said with incredulity. ‘He’s in there. Come on! He’s so un-Creem. Also, Duran Duran? I mean, what?’”)
Posted in Creem, Dave Marsh | 3 Comments »
Posted by s woods on November 28, 2007
A couple weeks back, I was thrilled to receive my copy of the gigantic, gorgeously designed Creem anthology. Still haven’t read ANY of it, to be honest (that’s one thing about coffee table books that look great–they’re not especially conducive to delving in and spending time with; who wants to mess up all those lovely pages?), but a few perusals through the thing once the initial shock wore off and my excitement level dropped somewhat. For starters, as a few people mentioned in this ILM thread, the bulk of the book’s content is devoted to artist profiles, which, while certainly in the Creemspeak tradition, are probably the thing I was hoping to see the least of–certainly not as the bulk of the package. As “xhuxk” notes in that thread, it’s cool to see in there things like “Stars Cars” and “Backstage” and “Creem Dreem” reprints, but the book seems sadly lacking in record and book reviews (in fact, I don’t think there are any–I’d love to own a whole book of Creem record reviews, come to think of it). Also, the selection of writers and feature subjects just seems a little scattershot, occasionally making me wonder, “why is this here?” (Though, let’s be fair, no collection could satisfy everyone, and omissions are both understandable and fully to be expected. That’s a tribute to the mag itself, the fact that a true “best of” could never be captured in a single anthology).
Anyway, I was (and am) still happy to own the thing, and there is some great stuff in there, but how much of it I’ll actually get around to reading… not a lot, I suspect. The mags themselves are always close by. (God forbid we should have a fire, the Creem stash will be the first detour on the way out the door–after my wife of course.)
Well, the story, as it turns out, is a lot more complicated.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Creem, Dave Marsh, News | 5 Comments »