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Review of The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs

My review essay, “Nothing Has Been Done Before,” about Greil Marcus’ superb The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs has been published at Public Books.

Here’s a very brief excerpt:

The book’s goal is to de-organize and destabilize such neat and redemptive narrative structures and register a subtle protest against the reductive nostalgia upon which those chronicles are founded and maintained, by examining the possibility that “records that made no apparent history other than their own, the faint marks they left on the charts or someone’s memory, might count for more than any master narrative that excludes them.” With a title that playfully alludes to Buzzfeed-style link-bait reductionism, The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs goes deep and wide, evoking those 10 songs and their performances across time in some of Marcus’s best writing in a decade.

This was a watershed moment for me as a critic of music and pop culture, an inspirational and progressive occasion, I think. I’ll be posting more on the essay in a few days, including some outtakes that were wisely cut by the excellent editors at Public Books.

I’ll also have some thoughts on the provocative ICAF conference I attended here in Columbus last week.

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