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Greil Marcus (1945 - )
Much like David Toop, Greil Marcus produces scholarly and literary essays that place rock music in a much broader framework of culture and politics than is customary in pop music journalism. [Mar 2006]
Related: USA - Lipstick Traces, a Secret History of 20th Century (1989) - music journalist - cultural criticism
Lipstick Traces, a Secret History of 20th Century (1989) - Greil Marcus [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
My favourite book by Greil Marcus.
Greil Marcus is an American author, music journalist and cultural critic. He is notable for producing scholarly and literary essays that place rock music in a much broader framework of culture and politics than is customary in pop music journalism.
Marcus was born in 1945 in San Francisco. He earned an undergraduate degree in American Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, where he also did graduate work in political science. He has been a rock critic and columnist for Rolling Stone (where he was the first reviews editor, at $30 a week) and other publications, including Creem, the Village Voice and Artforum.
His 1975 book Mystery Train re-defined the parameters of rock music criticism. The book places rock 'n'roll within the context of American cultural archetypes from Moby Dick to Jay Gatsby to Stagger Lee. Marcus's "recognition of the unities in the American imagination that already exist" inspired numberless rock scribes.
His next book was equally ambitious: Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century (1989, developed from an earlier essay) stretched his trademark riffing across a millennium of Western civilization. Positing punk rock as a transhistorical cultural phenomenon, Marcus illuminated hidden connections between entities as diverse as the Sex Pistols, the Dadaists, and medieval heretics.
In 1991, Marcus published Dead Elvis, a 1991 collection of writings about Elvis Presley, followed by 1993's Ranters and Crowd Pleasers, an examination of post-punk political pop. In 1997, using old Dylan bootlegs as a typically obscure starting point, Marcus delved once more into the American subconscious with his obsessive Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes.
From 1983 to 1989, Marcus was on the Board of Directors for the National Book Critics Circle. He writes the column "Elephant Dancing" for Interview. His new book, The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy in the American Voice, will be published in the fall of 2006. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greil_Marcus [Mar 2006]
Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island (1978)
Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island (1978) - Robert Christgau (Foreword), Greil Marcus (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
In 1978 Greil Marcus asked 20 other writers on rock - including Dave Marsh, Lester Bangs, Nick Tosches, Ellen Willis, Simon Frith and Robert Christgau - a question: "what one rock and roll album would you take to a desert island?" The resulting essays were collected in "Stranded", 20 passionate declarations that, appropriately, affirmed the solitary and obsessive activity that rock listening had become. Here are salutes, elegies, thank-you notes, and love letters to records such as The Rolling Stones' "Beggars Banquet", The Ramones' "Rocket to Russia", Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica", "Something Else" by the Kinks, and out-of-print classics by the Ronnettes, Little Willie John and Huey "Piano" Smith; the whole is supplemented with Marcus's own invaluably annotated fifty-page discography, a "Treasure Island" of rock and roll.
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