The Grad School of Rock

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 … Continue reading The Grad School of Rock

Marcus on the Doors

Greil Marcus takes on the Doors. A fan from the moment the Doors’ first album took over KMPX, the revolutionary FM rock & roll station in San Francisco, Greil Marcus saw the band many times at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom in 1967. Five years later it was all over. Forty years after the singer Jim Morrison was found dead in Paris … Continue reading Marcus on the Doors

Favourite Music Reads of the ’00s: #23 (A Drift)

“Roxy Music’s ‘More Than This’ is a drift, a float. The sounds coming out of Ferry’s mouth, except for the chorus, when the whirlpool is stopped, when it’s centered, when he steps out as if to make a speech, are a golden smear. “Four minutes and fifteen seconds long, the song begins to fade after two minutes and thirty-two seconds. You hear ‘More than this … Continue reading Favourite Music Reads of the ’00s: #23 (A Drift)

Weekend Reads (and Listens)

Haven’t done a roundup-y sort of thing in… well, forever far as I know. A random bunch of things (via Twitter, mainly) to kick off your weekend house parties: New York Times podcast featuring Nik Cohn and Ben Ratliff discussing (the newly remastered) The White Album. Decade-end listmaking is well underway: Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, etc. Info from Sasha … Continue reading Weekend Reads (and Listens)

Rockcritics Podcast: Chuck Eddy (Part 2)

The second installment of the Eddy podcast focuses on the discographies in Stranded (Greil Marcus) and Marooned (Phil Freeman). Most (though not all) of the music bits are samples of songs culled from Marcus’s text. I may have more to say about this later (a whole bunch of things I wish I’d responded to at the time — i.e., Hackamore Brick), but for now… Check … Continue reading Rockcritics Podcast: Chuck Eddy (Part 2)

Scott’s Bookshelf, Part 6

Trudging along with this feature, ever so slowly…

36. Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Nico, the Last Bohemian (James Young) – Another one in the haven’t-read-it-but-would-like-to pile. From what I gather it’s a tour diary (written by the guy who played keyboards with Nico throughout the ’80s) with many episodes of wanton drug use. Truthfully, not really my idea of a good time. And yet… every review I’ve read suggests that it’s much more intelligent than my no doubt reductive encapsulation suggests.

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Scott’s Bookshelf, Part 4


25. Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure, and the Politics of Rock ‘n’ Roll (Simon Frith) – Aka The Sociology of Rock. One of the first books of rock criticism I tried to read, “tried” being the operative word in this case. Frith’s prose just never grabbed me here, never led me into thinking (or caring) about his ideas . That said, I’m uncomfortable with the assumption in Christgau’s headline for his review of this book: “It’s Barely Rock and Roll, But I Like It.” Uncomfortable, that is, with the idea that a book about rock and roll has to read like rock and roll, uncomfortable with the underlying assumptions about what such a formulation even means (it must be loud? forceful? in-your-face?). Weird thought coming from Christgau, given that he probably has a wider definition of “rock and roll” than just about anyone. (He nails my disinterest with the book much better when he says it “isn’t romantic enough.” Maybe that’s what his headline means??) As I mentioned in a previous entry, I do like Performing Rites quite a bit, and I’m guessing that stylistically the books aren’t really that different.  Maybe the slyness –the Drifters, if not the Stooges — in Frith’s voice just comes  through a little better in the later book?

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Scott’s Bookshelf, Part 2

11. The Dark Stuff (Nick Kent) – Read a few chapters of this (Brian Wilson, Stones, G N’ R, I think), perused the others, have never felt a pressing need to pull it off the shelf again. I know how highly regarded Kent is (especially in the UK), and based on the little I’ve read I can neither confirm or dispute the many claims made for him, but the terrain he covers in this book is, at least for me, one of the least interesting stories in pop music — that of the wasted, self-destructing rock star (I say this as someone who has pretty much revered Keith Richards forever, even while simultaneously considering him one of rock’s ultimate self-parodies). There’s no doubt more to the writing here than that, but it’s just not a subject that greatly compels me, in the same way that I almost never actually enjoy watching junkie movies (even skillfully directed junkie movies). Another barrier: the whole journalist-as-rock-star thing. Witness Morrisey’s blurb: “I could tell you stories about Nick Kent that would uncurl the hair in your Afro.” Thing is, I don’t have an Afro.

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