Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Articles [NAJP]

Best Music Writing Doubleheader

Best Music Writing 2010 is out, this year's model edited by Ann Powers, a good friend I've praised here and elsewhere many times. I devoured it; I devour it every year. But the only one I've enjoyed more consistently is the 2007, which I put together myself. Really, no more than four or five pieces out of 36 that wouldn't have made it to my final round. And although I'm an opponent of affirmative-action agendas in assembling such collections, Ann's long-established and here restated interest in exposing feminist and gay perspectives occasions several of the essays etc. I found most stimulating--notably Michelle Tea on the Gossip, Barry Walters on Wendy & Lisa, and Raquel Cepeda on "Another Love TKO: Teens Grapple With Rihanna vs. Chris Brown." Kudos as well to examples of very different kinds of old-fashioned craft: Jason Fine's monumental Rolling Stone profile of Merle Haggard and Philip S. Bryant's memoiristic and literally poetic Utne Reader meditation on the jazz fandom of his father and his father's best friend. Powers also made the decision to include a lot of online writing, some of which I think cries out for editing. I'm not sure I would have made the same call. But since the pieces are for the most part clearly original and worthy even if not polished (or sometimes, for brief passages here and there, altogether coherent), I was kind of glad she did.

I'm in this one too--my Brad Paisley essay for Barnes & Noble Review. And as usual there will be a reading--actually four total, two in NYC just before Thanksgiving. I'll be at the Monday one, November 22 at 7 p.m. at Housing Works Cafe, 126 Crosby Street, along with Sasha Frere-Jones, Lola Ogunnaike, Starrene Rhett, Jody Rosen, Alex Ross, and Greg Tate. 7 p.m. Tuesday November 23 at Southpaw, 125 Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, will be Nitsuh Abebe, Jon Caramanica, Maura Johnston, Evie Nagy, Tavia Nyong'o, and Christopher R. Weingarten. As Series Editor Daphne Carr notes: "Yes, there is a NYC BMW TOC domination, but folks come, as they have for hundreds of years, from all . . . over . . . the . . . world . . . to be writers in this city." (TOC = table of contents. Had to look that one up.)

Articles, Nov. 19, 2010


Doing the Count The Return of Consumer Guide