Full roundup of Willis Press Clippings…

available at the Ellen Willis Tumblr page.

And the first demurral I’ve seen of Out of the Vinyl Deeps, from longtime rockcritics.com reader/inquisitor, Beppe Colli, over at his website, Clouds and Clocks. It’s not entirely clear to me what Beppe’s issues with Willis are, but this sentence might be a hint:

“Reading this book, it immediately dawned on me that, though their styles are quite diverse — also their values — Willis practices an irrational approach that is not that different from Lester Bangs’s. Just check the way liking an album is experienced as a kind of ‘conversion,’ and so something which is impossible to explain.”

I don’t know about “irrational,” but his second point, about the almost religious fervour in each of their responses to the records they adore is pretty spot-on, though not, for me, a problem (quite the opposite). Music is “impossible to explain,” though — at least if you limit your explanation to words alone. Indeed, that conundrum, as pointed out in various passages in Meltzer’s The Aesthetics of Rock, is the futility (um, the challenge) of rock criticism. Writing about “the music” — i.e., the notes, the chord changes, the instrumentation, etc. — gets you no closer to there than writing about any other aspect of it, because there is no there there.

One thought on “Full roundup of Willis Press Clippings…

  1. Tell Beppe Colli that the “irrational” commonalities he finds in the writings of Ellen Willis and Lester Bangs may simply be due to the pop-astrology in vogue when all of us were young in the ’60s: I see on wikipedia that Willis was born December 14, 1941, while Lester followed on December 13, 1948. And anyone who has a problem with us Sagittarians (ahem) unleashing the zen arrows in our birthright quivers on rock criticism needs to come see me. Lester’s passion about music, and the brilliance of his prose in explaining that passion, was the first rockwriting I’d ever read that made sense of the whole “counterculture” for me — especially his idea that we’d have to begin rebelling against the pop-powers-that-were-coming-to-be (the Jann Wenners and James Taylors) to keep the spirit of the mid-’60s alive.

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