Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Articles [NAJP]

Birth Announcement--Unidentical Twins

Bewailing as we do here the shaky health of arts journalism, I was shocked to solicit an assignment from the online-only Barnes & Noble Review, which had a good rep with a few contributors I knew, only to be offered not just an assignment but a monthly column. I was so shocked that at first I didn't know what to say--since leaving the Voice in 2006, all my paid writing had been short, and I'd gotten out of the habit of conceiving essays.

Fortunately, there was this blog, where I do conceive essays of sorts, but execute them off-the-cuff because I can't afford the time through thought and through composition require. And in fact I'd been thinking about a post celebrating a book by NAJP Fellow Tom Moon: 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. The initial conception was pretty sketchy, just an eleborated birth announcement, but as I paged through the book the ideas started popping and I didn't know what I would do. B&N answered that question: for a longtime specialist in capsule record reviews to describe Moon's compendium would be a perfect way for said writer to introduce himself to a new audience.

So, herewith a link to the inaugural Rock & Roll & at its new home. And herewith some commentary from Tom:

as you know better than anyone, books like this rarely get reviewed, and when they do, it's usually in a single paragraph, a mention in a gift guide, etc.

this is the first real appraisal we've had. it means a ton.

Isn't it nice when professional writers can get paid to talk to each other in public? Being a critic and all, I couldn't resist doing my share and maybe slightly more than my share of criticizing--ideally, the shape would have been a little different, maybe 5-10 percent more laudatory. One thing I would have said that maybe someday when I have the ear time, I'm going to pull out the classical list I generated and stream some of that stuff. Thought the Martha Argerich, especially the Ravel, sounded pretty good.

3 Comments

By Adam on December 20, 2008 11:28 AM

It's good to have the lengthy you back, in polished form.

Which works better for this one: the new home or the new baby metaphor?

Either way, cheers!

By steve on December 29, 2008 9:20 AM

Robert- congrats on the return to essays with Barnes and Noble . . . I also wanted to write to thank you- because I really appreciate your web site and the work you have done over your career . . . Been reading since Pazz and Jop days, but have sort of given up on the RS and mags of that ilk, so your site is like my check on (especially) the re-reviewing of my collection as I drag it over to computer formats. Plus I get to go like- "he was so wrong about Surf's Up- who cares about Park's stupid lyrics? - and well, maybe he's right about Love You . . ." and realizing you wrote this stuff thirty years ago and wondering where the revisionist in you would put it all now . . lots of fun- thanks!

By Kenneth on March 6, 2009 2:28 AM

Been reading your reviews for about 14 months. If you've noticed any increase in the number of hits in that time, it's because Mumbai (or people my age here) has heard of you

Articles, Dec. 20, 2008


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