Posted by s woods on May 2, 2013
Pitchfork: The first column at The Voice to do this with music was Richard Goldstein’s “Pop Eye”. He wasn’t there for very long, but he developed a unique way to approach music intellectually and enthusiastically at the same time.
DP: Goldstein started writing at The Village Voice in 1966, after finishing his masters in journalism at Columbia. He wanted to write about pop with a capital P: It’s mass culture, it’s democratic, but at the same time, it can be cunning, smart, tongue-in-cheek. At this point, no one else was taking that approach. You can see a juxtaposition with Crawdaddy, which was Paul Williams’ publication. Where Williams really just wanted to be serious, Goldstein wanted to be meta. He was friends with Bob Christgau and Ellen Willis, and they’re starting to figure out, “How do we develop a new language for talking about music?”
Pitchfork: One of the fascinating and, in a way, tragic things about Goldstein’s story is the identity crisis that he developed in public through his writing. At first, he embraced pop. But he quickly started resenting its commercialization and valorizing the underground.
DP: The “underground” is an idea that Goldstein is key in developing. Not to say that there weren’t people covering things out of the limelight before, but he’s central to the use of the word “underground” and this idea that there is a submerged culture happening on its own terms. At first, Richard gets very fired up about the possibilities of pop to radically reinvent society. Remember, it’s the 1960s, so we’re talking about the beliefs of the counterculture for world change. All of this infuses him and his writing. Very quickly, though, he gets jaded, as I think many people in their late 20s can relate to. But also, when we think about rock in the 60s getting completely commercialized, we don’t realize that it happened in the span of 28 months, really. The big money started falling in, which has an ironic relationship to the music. It helps the music to spread but at the same time, especially for somebody who was on the ground observing it, it could be a very depressing change.
Eric Harvey interviews Devon Powers about Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism, which I just ordered this morning. I’m probably looking as forward to the telling of Goldstein’s place in all this as I am to Christgau’s, given that I really know only the most obvious, scant details about RG. (There’s also the recent news to consider that Christgau is releasing a memoir of his own.)
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Posted by s woods on April 5, 2013
Revisiting the work of early pop critics such as Richard Goldstein and Robert Christgau, Powers shows how they stood at the front lines of the mass culture debates, challenging old assumptions and hierarchies and offering pioneering political and social critiques of the music. Part of a college-educated generation of journalists, Voice critics explored connections between rock and contemporary intellectual trends such as postmodernism, identity politics, and critical theory. In so doing, they became important forerunners of the academic study of popular culture that would emerge during the 1970s.
- Press release for Devon Powers’s upcoming tome, Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism.
Consider me stoked. Or anyway, intrigued.
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Posted by s woods on January 31, 2013
“I am of the belief that there are two distinct schools of rock journalists: (1) those for whom punk rock was the most important thing that ever happened, and, (2) everybody else (who, for lack of a better collective noun, I will call ‘shitheads’). Shitheads write about whatever is presented to them, non-judgmentally treating all styles of music as equals, distinguished from each other only by superficial stylistic elements. From the shithead school comes the deification of hip hop, AM radio floss, salsa, zydeco, blues and jazz artists, who ought really to be judged against either the entire spectrum of popular culture (against which their insignificance becomes obvious) or other practitioners of specific-genre music (against whom their minute differences might be measured).”
- Steve Albini, Pazz & Jop, 1987
Posted in Archival, Genres, Village Voice | 2 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 »