Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Any Old Way You Choose It Book Cover

Leaders and Parking Meters

It wasn't until the sixties that I came a rock and roll fan in the truest sense of the word, because it wasn't until the sixties that I identified with the music-makers as well as getting off on the music. Part of the reason for this is obvious--I have a lot more in common with John Lennon than I do with Elvis Presley--but part of it is fairly subtle. As an adolescent, I think I would have found fanhood a threat to my individuality, but as I became more secure in myself, I could afford the silliness fanhood entailed. Emotionally, that explains the approach of these pieces, which is to treat artists both as public figures and as friends. Aesthetically, the explanation is even simpler: In an age of electronic media, I believe, the functional unit of a star's creativity is not the work but the persona of which that work is the center. Most of the artists in this section have fairly stable personas by now, and (with the possible exceptions of Jethro Tull and Cat Stevens) all are quite clearly giants in one way or another. I regard most of these essays as temporarily definitive. Except for two pieces from The New York Times, all of this work appeared in The Village Voice or Newsday. The pieces on Elvis Presley and Bill Graham are revised essays combining material published in both outlets.

Any Old Way You Choose It, 1973


Rock & Roll & Chuck Berry