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Real Life Rock: The Complete Top Ten Columns, 1986-2014

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Real Life Rock: The Complete Top Ten Columns, 1986-2014.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Greil Marcus(Author)

    Book details

From the author of The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs comes his “Basement Tapes”: the complete “Real Life Rock Top 10” columns

For nearly thirty years, Greil Marcus has written a remarkable column called “Real Life Rock Top Ten.” It has been a laboratory where he has fearlessly explored and wittily dissected an enormous variety of cultural artifacts, from songs to books to movies to advertisements. Taken together, his musings, reflections, and sallies amount to a subtle and implicit theory of how cultural objects fall through time and circumstance and often deliver unintended consequences, both in the present and in the future.
Real Life Rock reveals the critic in full: direct, erudite, funny, fierce, vivid, uninhibited, and possessing an unerring instinct for art and fraud. The result is an indispensable volume packed with startling arguments and casual brilliance.

Greil Marcus's books include Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ’n’ Roll Music, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, and The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs. He teaches at Berkeley and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.

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Book details

  • PDF | 600 pages
  • Greil Marcus(Author)
  • Yale University Press; First Edition edition (October 20, 2015)
  • English
  • 7
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Robert W. Getz on November 4, 2015

    It's difficult to remember what rock criticism or cultural commentary was like before Greil Marcus which, I suppose, is another way of saying that the risks and innovations that have always marked his work have now become so much a part of our daily conversation that we accept and, indeed, expect any sort of criticism from Pitchfork to People to embrace his willingness to treat all culture as a vital and living continuum. The thrill of reading his long-running 'Real Life Rock Top Ten' column has always been the sense of being allowed into the workshop and seeing how anything can become grist for his mill and, in some ways, the column may be a better example of the sort of democratization his writing always strives for than the books are. There is some repetition, an inevitable thing in over 30 years worth of work (the Bob Dylan material has already been collected in Marcus' volume on the subject) and it may be safe to say that if you have no interest in Dylan, The Mekons, or Sleater-Kinney you may want to move along, but then you may want to avoid contemporary music altogether. I don't always agree with him (the same goes for the film critic David Thomson whose similarly exciting work shares some qualities with Marcus') and he can seem finicky at times; he has plenty of time for Jon Spencer's Pussy Galore, for example, but none at all for Spencer's Blues Explosion. But this is nitpicking when you're discussing a volume that rewards the reader regardless of where they happen to dip into it. A dazzling display from one of our most remarkable writers.

  • By Kevin M. Antonio on November 13, 2016

    This bathroom book for intellectuals collects Marcus’s Top Ten column from ’86 -‘14 from various magazines and websites. Recurring characters: Elvis, Dylan, Harry Smith, Robert Johnson, Pussy Galore (and Riot), the Sex Pistols and… Counting Crows?!? (We all have our misguided pleasures). And tribute albums… way too many tribute albums. Marcus has my sympathy for sitting through all of them. You’re a better man than I, sir. He starts most of those reviews off with "Aren't tribute albums terrible?" And we all know the answer to that.Also, since it is Marcus, you get a heaping helping of dada/performance art/whatever-it-is folderol… the stuff you can skip over to get to the good parts.So, if you've got pockets of time to kill, this book is a good way to do it.

  • By Tiernan Henry on December 3, 2015

    Or, how to lose an afternoon.Pick any page and the lines jump right out - ridiculous lines, insightful one, really really funny ones - and they're all infuriating: largely because they are so good. This is a really interesting collection of a really interesting idea - back in 1986 Marcus started writing lists that reflected what was going on with his listening, reading, viewing and with his life. Gradually other things started peeking in, or became visible around the edges and what we have now is a fascinating, distinctly personal alternate history of the last 30 or so years.This is the perfect book to dip in and out of, but damn, it's hard to not read just one more of those short little pieces. Yesterday afternoon p110 sent me off to listen to Dylan's mighty fine Good As I Been To You, and on the bus this morning my ipod rattled along withSonic Youth and the Vulgar Boatmen.Marcus isn't for everyone, but there's enough here to keep anyone interested and it really is a good way to pass some time.I was thinking about this last night and I think the first thing I read of his was his liner notes to The Basement Tapes. It took a while to get my hands on Mystery Train (and wouldn't you know when I finally did it was in Duluth, MN back in 1989 - as you do) and I've tried to keep up with him as much as possible through the years. One really fine thing about this collection is how it shows Marcus' relationships with music and art shifting and changing over the years, and there's hardly a finer history of Dylan's musical renaissance than in these pages. He shows up early and often, in asides, in head scratching lines where Marcus is trying to figure out what's going on with Dylan and what's going on with his relationship with Dylan (as a listener). Is there a better summary of 1997's Time Out Of Mind than this (p159): "A Western. It starts with Clint Eastwood's face at the end of Unforgiven, then turns around and heads back east like bad weather", or this (p267) from his take on Summer Days (from Love & Theft): "...the singer shouts from inside a roadhouse where a Western Swing band is running a jitterbug beat as if it's twirling a rope. On the dance floor women are flipping in the air and couples snap back at each other like towels in a locker room. The singer high-steps his way across the room, Stetson topping his Nudie suit. How much proof do you want that the night can't go wrong? "Why don't you break my heart one more time," he says happily to the woman at his side, "just for good luck?" He stretches out the last word as if he can't bear to give it up."Damn you Marcus. Oh bloody hell, now I'm blasting the live version from 2002 - Dylan and that band back in New York ripping the place apart.Order it, have your iPod ready, have your turntable ready, have strong drink close at hand and be ready to get lost for an afternoon. Or a weekend.Oh, no, look what he says on p486,.. I have to go, it's Bikini Kill time.

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