Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Xgau Sez

These are questions submitted by readers, and answered by Robert Christgau. New ones will appear in batches every other Tuesday.

To ask your own question, please use this form.

October 09, 2018

[Q] You have written that you play records 12-18 hours a day, which I find astonishing. So I am curious: not counting sleep, when do you NOT have a record on? -- Richard B., Stony Point, New York

[A] I've gotten several questions like this, which gives me an opening to explain how my listening habits have changed since my wife Carola began contending with a cancer called multiple myeloma in late January. Both Carola's tolerance and Carola's ears have been a part of my criticism for 46 years. Not every living companion would put up with the ambient sound she does, and I treasure whatever responses she shares with me--as a glance at my site will establish, she's a hell of a critic herself, and I know no one who hears voices so acutely and imaginatively. Not that I blast music through the house whenever it's on in my office--we have speakers with separate controls in four of the seven rooms in our apartment (and I don't blast a lot anyway). But even then it's my preference to always have the music playing in the dining room/kitchen so that it's waiting whenever I venture out for a snack or to answer the doorbell. This was simpler when Carola had an office of her own in a neighbor's apartment--since that arrangement ended, I've been more careful about impinging on her mental space during the day. But her illness has not only made me far more cautious than that, it's cut into how much time I spend at home and how much time I spend working. Hundreds of hours of doctor's appointments, daily discussions of her symptoms and treatment options that I'm loath to undercut with aural distractions, and a lot more TV have all cut into my ear time--she needs my company, and I've never treasured hers more. Since September 26 Carola has been at Sloan-Kettering undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant and I've been up there six or more hours a day. The next phase of that treatment she'll be home, but weak and in need of sleep, and how that will affect my reviewing remains to be seen--for around a month she'll need to have me or a stand-in with her 24-7. So although I've gotten many requests to reevaluate old music, that's been something I could rarely manage as Xgau Sez got rolling (and once when I made an exception Carola got the Thompsons' "When I Get to the Border" stuck in her head and couldn't get it out). And now let me add one more thing. Carola will get better--multiple myeloma is considered incurable at present, but the afflicted go into remission for very long periods and her treatment has been going exceptionally well. Anyone who wants to pray or meditate or send out vibes, please do so. But one problem with having a serious disease is dealing with people who are worried about you--in my world, Carola is far more beloved than I am, as she should be. So unless you have special knowledge about multiple myeloma, your best wishes are assumed. And let me tell ya--after managing one two-day and one three-day getaway in 2018, in 2019 we intend to have some fun no matter who's on the fucking Supreme Court. What that will do to my work schedule remains to be seen.

[Q] As a Byrds fan, how would you rate Gene Clark's No Other? Is it the forgotten masterpiece that contemporary reviewers claim it is? -- Kyle Barton, Dallas

[A] I've thumbs-upped only three Byrds albums--the greatest hits plus the country-leaning Notorious Byrds Brothers and the country-all-the-way Sweetheart of the Radio. This doesn't make me a Byrds fan--it makes me a Byrds skeptic, and if anything that skepticism has grown. Michael Clarke was a truly crap folkie drummer--I'll take crap folkie drummer Spencer Dryden or ham-fisted rock drummer Dewey Martin any day. I was at the Fillmore East when they introduced the Sweetheart material, which drew more boos than cheers from the Byrds fans despite my own vociferous support, and believe Chris Hillman made the right call to hitch up with the admittedly fickle Gram Parsons. So it's no surprise that I never once reviewed a Gene Clark record. Fact is, I do not recall No Other at all.

[Q] Have there been any singers since Billie Holiday that could match her "languid timing, subtle melodic variations, [and] unmatched conversational intimacy"? Also: is there a good collection highlighting her early years, when she was singing happier tunes, like "Having Myself a Time," "I Wished on the Moon," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do"? I get the sense her compilations skew heavily to her sadder side. -- Dan, Portland, Maine

[A] Billie Holiday is probably my favorite singer. Al Green and John Lennon (yes, John Lennon) are the only competition that normally spring to mind when these discussions arise. So obviously I don't think anyone has matched her, and I find acolytes like Madeleine Peyroux kind of pathetic, decent and well-meaning though she seems. As for a compilation of Holiday's upbeat stuff, I know of no such consumer object, but it's a great idea: Bouncy Billie, or at the very least Bouncing. My nominations are "Them There Eyes" and "Your Mother's Son-in-Law." Of your three, unfortunately, I think only "What a Little Moonlight" a sure shot. That is the problem. She was much better at pop throwaways than the jazzbo elite believes. But her upbeat trifles are still pretty rare.

[Q] Is your current appreciation for Superchunk's early catalogue in sync with your love of their later stuff? -- David K., London

[A] As I thought I'd made clear in my reviews, I think what happened to Superchunk is that Mac McCaughan grew up. He stopped thinking slack motherfuckers were an apt marketing device. And he learned not so much to sing as to enunciate with some specificity and emote more legibly and, crucially, got more interested in tunes. Finally, in 2016, Trump convinced him that it was time to stop even hinting that life was but a joke. The first sign was his intense involvement in the Battle Hymns comp released the day Trump was inaugurated. And then came this year's What a Time to Be Alive. Key song: "Reagan Youth." Play it now, and listen to the lyric.

[Q] Guantanomo--you're in charge of the music. Pick one: GodWeenSatan: The Oneness, Antichrist Superstar, The Downward Spiral/Broken. Or . . . ? -- Noah C. Peterson, Garden Grove, California

[A] Do you believe in torture? I oppose it myself. All these selections resemble the music Bush I's military enablers sicced on Noriega on account of he was a dictator (unlike such Bush faves as Pinochet, Somoza, Guzman) and also, er, controlled the Panama Canal. For that matter, limiting the selections to one is a species of torture. So not to cosset any kind of Islamic fundamentalism, let's start with anything by Rachid Taha. Then Youssou D'Dour's Egypt. Bassekou Kouyate's Jama Ko. Oumou Sangare's Worotan. Oruj Guvenc's Ocean of Remembrance. I could go on and won't. But for local color, let's include a Los Van Van best-of.

[Q] Agreed, they were teens fumbling at sex and alcohol. Agreed, she was an ingenuous girl. Agreed, he was a drunken boy. Agreed, she was unaware of the chaos hormones make of romance let alone civility. Agreed, he was unaware his sense of entitlement didn't license incivility let alone sexual harassment. Agreed, there is no telling. Agreed, there is no proof. Agreed, philosophically, we join hands with the Prefect of Judea: "Quid est veritas?" Yet I can't shake out of my head three hideous devils in three hideous details: one, his wingman was there watching; two, they both laughed uproariously; three, he locked his hand over her mouth. Devils One and Two, these days, would be live on the internet. Devil Three alone is a form of assault, if not a legal one. What the military calls show of force. Saying in effect, "Shut up, bitch, and take it!" -- Coco Hannah Eckelberg, Long Island City, New York

[A] I always wonder what music exactly got turned up to drown out Dr. Ford's protests--when BK got his buddy arrested at Yale, it was after a UB40 concert when a guy the drunk BK believed was that band's Ali Campbell refused his advances. More substantively, Ford's testimony brought to my mind Sam Phillips's dictum that the highest goal in recording is to capture the spontaneous one-of-a-kind moment. Even though she must have prepared for this public test of character, her performance before the cameras to an audience of millions seemed totally unscripted, from the head and the heart simultaneously--so quietly intelligent and so set on precision above all that it felt to me unprecedented, something the world had never seen before, credible in every detail to which she was ready to attest no matter what sexist bigots male and female are telling themselves. So to hell with the Prefect of Judea--the veritas is that in Maryland in the summer of 1982 a 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by two high school jocks. She wasn't an adventurer or experimenter. She may have been an outsider looking to grow up a little or widen her social circle. But there's not the slightest indication of the kind of sexual curiosity or status-seeking that does happen with young teenagers sometimes. She merely isolated herself from a smallish group to go to the bathroom and was physically forced to enter a bedroom. That's assault right there. Everything else is sexual assault.

September 18, 2018

[Q] I click on my Robert Christgau bookmark every Monday morning, and every few weeks you're late on an update, which means I have to Google your name to make sure your Wiki page still says "is." What's gonna happen when you're gone? I've discovered some really great shit through your reviews, but even after reading hundreds of them I still don't have a good sense of what you would say about a band or album. When I no longer have your reviews to trust, I'm afraid I might not have the tools to discern quality on my own. For example, you gave a Backstreet Boys album a higher rating than any album by The Cure or the The Smiths. I want to better understand the principle here, so that I don't wind up a Morrissey fan on accident in the (hopefully distant) future. I guess the question I really want to ask is: to what degree (if any) are your letter grades relative to genre, as opposed to an absolute measure of quality? Is the Backstreet Boys album only an A as far as vapid teen pop goes? -- Paul England, Michigan

[A] Three things. First, I don't do any of the tech stuff on my site. Techwise I'm an idiot. So be thankful my webmaster Tom Hull does that work for me and also for you, and if he's late once in a while figure he has more rewarding things to do with his life (plus he's been beset with server problems recently). Second, the Cure I got for better and worse, but if there's a band I think I missed it's the Smiths. Definitely there was more to them than I thought at the time; their failure to make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an America-first outrage. Maybe someday I'll have the time to go back and figure them out, but that's a big job of small journalistic utility for anyone but my major fans. Third, that Backstreet Boys album is among other things a showcase for Max Martin, clearly a major genius of contemporary popular music.

[Q] Hey Bob! Nice to see you getting into this Xgau Sez thing. My question: Given what I already understand to be your stance on jazz in general (different universe, etc.), I'm nevertheless left wondering why you don't review more of your finds in the genre--particularly the many, MANY '50s & '60s iterations you've never gotten around to writing about? I mean, call me simple, but the very notion of all those poor, defenseless potential A-listers leave me fending off the cold shakes (and other assorted demons) on any given unfortunately dark & grim night. Think of the children! Why you wanna do us like that, man? -- Ioannis Sotirchos, Athens, Greece

[A] I can't notate and am not at all well-schooled in the jazz albums of the '50s and '60s. So I have neither the language nor the frame of reference to write readily about them, plus they lack the news value of recent pop albums, and this is journalism I'm supposed to be doing here. Jazz is hard to write about the impressionistic way I do it. Even with the few artists I've covered often--Davis, Coleman, Rollins--finding the words involves either considerable effort or a stroke of luck. So check out Tom Hull's list if you need some tips.

[Q] I'm curious about one of your early A-plus grades that was never revisited: Procol Harum's A Salty Dog. There's hardly a review to go on. What was it that you discovered in them? Did you ever revise that grade downwards? The group didn't earn high marks from you in subsequent releases, and the album itself doesn't seem to reflect your tastes in later years. Thanks. -- Noel Hinton, Bunbury, Western Australia

[A] Like many young critics discovering the satisfying judgmental thwock of a grading system, it took me a while, probably the better part of a year, to get my sea legs and not overstate for effect. Hence the too quickly rated A Salty Dog (such an anomaly that at least two others have asked about it)--which, however, I did revisit later as penance and judged rather better than most Procol Harum albums, in B plus territory though I'm sure not going back and double-checking. In general handing out A-plusses is very tricky business because it's essentially a prediction of continuing future use value. So whoever asked about Arcade Fire's Neon Bible and Graham Parker's Squeezing Out Sparks, right, those were mistakes: Arcade Fire just too grandiose, the sexism of Parker's title song too much to bear. On the other hand, whoever asked about 1970's six A-plusses, well, 1970 was really a hell of a good year. I'd now say all my top eight are A-plus: Layla (though no longer number one), Sly's GH record, Newman's 12 Songs, Moondance, After the Gold Rush, Sex Machine, John's Plastic Ono Band (retrospectively downgraded to an A in 1980, but still a record I pull out with pleasure, so jack it back up), and Aretha Franklin's Spirit in the Dark.

[Q] Are there any A-plus records that you have not originally rated as such? This includes records such as The Roots How I Got Over and Wussy's Funeral Dress. What do you think is the best Beatles album--any of them reach A-plus? What about Miles Davis' Kind of Blue or Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis? -- Patrick Hoeppner, San Jose, California

[A] As I was just saying, predicting of future use value is very difficult to do accurately--and that's gotten harder as the number of A albums has increased steadily over the years, rendering the competition for my future non-work listening tougher and tougher. But good for you -- as it happens, all four of the albums you've named are records I return to often, insofar as "often" is a word that makes sense for someone who has what we'll call ten thousand albums crammed into his less than gigantic Manhattan apartment. As for the Beatles, which others have asked about too, let me just say that the UK-US differentiation of their pre-Sgt. Pepper catalogues make that a much more complex question. Nevertheless, I wouldn't be surprised if, after devoting a week or two to the question that no one will ever pay me to do so I won't, I didn't decide most of their albums were A-plusses. That said, no question which two I play most: the U.S.-only The Beatles' Second Album, which I first purchased in 1965, and, yes, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

[Q] Hi Robert. I was wondering what your thoughts are on the Soundcloud rap that has been quite dominant in the latter half of this decade, and if you think it is any way comparable to the DIY sensibility of punk. -- Khalid Sayeed, Toronto

[A] 1) As with most underground music punk included, I find it more efficient to let the marketplace do some sorting before I get on it. And in Soundcloud rap however exactly you define it I'm not at all impressed by the job the marketplace has done. 2) DIY punk involves minor but telling variations on a simple musical frame I've often compared to blues. Soundcloud rap involves (or anyway, should) beatmaking strategies I'm ill-equipped culturally to feel from the git insofar as they're not raw lo-fi ineptitude/indifference. 3) Soundcloud rap is at least as afflicted as any other kind of hip hop with sexist rhetoric I need very good reasons to hear past. I'm way sick of the word "bitch." I hated the XXXTentacion album in particular and wasted no time mourning his death. 4) Insofar as any new rap is a singles music that's just not what I do as a critic. 5) Cheap production and distribution techniques are one reason why all "death of the album" talk is bullshit. But the sheer profusion of music means much good stuff will get lost.

[Q] You've never shown any love for Nina Simone. She has quite the oeuvre, but you've only reviewed two of her albums, both dismissive. You really see nothing there? -- James Bradley, Brooklyn

[A] Right, I don't like Nina Simone. I'd never claim there's nothing there, especially given the heroic status she's gradually accrued. But I don't take to it, and I've given it a bunch of tries, even taught Daphne Brooks's terrific essay on her in her Jeff Buckley book (speaking of artists I don't take to). Simone's default gravity and depressive tendencies (which may be related but aren't the same thing) are qualities I'm seldom attracted to in any kind of art. I've always assumed her classical training--which was extensive; she only started singing in clubs to make money--was connected to my response as well.

September 04, 2018

[Q] Your published compilations of Consumer Guide columns and your website present your capsule reviews, formally, as a unified body of work. Those reviews, of course, represent almost a half century's writing. They seem to show that your critical perspective has changed over time, like anybody's would, based on your life experiences. To take one example, you seem more prone in your 70s to dig into records that explore aging and the end of life than you did in your 20s. (I realize that there are also more records like that now, and more older artists.) I imagine other life changes have affected your critical sensibility in all kinds of ways. Do you think it makes sense for readers to view your writing over 50 years as a largely unified body of work? In other words, when I read a 1973 review and then a 2016 review on your Web site, to what extent am I reading the work of materially the same critic? -- Greg Magarian, St. Louis

[A] Of course I'm materially the same critic. As you understand, people change. But it doesn't seem to me that my critical sensibility has done any sort of about-face, just as I wouldn't say Pauline Kael's or Andrew Sarris's or even the latish, structuralism-friendly Raymond Williams's did. It's just broadened and gathered detail. Moreover, my enthusiasm for the music I liked 40 and 50 years ago hasn't for the most part diminished. Of course it's been diluted by all the great music that's followed. But doing a little pleasure listening off the iPod on the only brief getaway Carola and I have managed this summer, we found ourselves digging Hound Dog Taylor, who's come up before on such jaunts, and the Roches, who haven't, and Donald Fagen's The Nightfly, an old fave of Carola's she recognized instantly but took longer to name--it's been 36 years, after all. What should also be said about this, however, is that with the significant exception of jazz only with more verbal content, no pre-rock music has ever produced anything like the late-life efflorescences of not just Elza Soares and Willie Nelson but of those strange Boz Scaggs and Ray Wylie Hubbard keepers that seem to arise from nowhere. I say this is partly just a function of the same increasing longevity that enables me to do what I do at 76. But despite the fact that most rockers do start repeating themselves all too soon, some do it rather well--the amazing Jon Langford, or that fine Pere Ubu album following a bunch of willful eccentricity (which some, my pal Greil for instance, insist is great, and from another perspective they could be right). I've long said that a music that began by fetishizing adolescence is liable to ponder the aging process in more detail than the kind of earlier pop that aspired to maturity from the git. There's probably a book here, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone was writing it or already did only it sucked so I didn't notice. But for the nonce let me stop.

[Q] Are we to assume that--well, for example, your reports on Sting's solo records end with Mercury Falling in '96, though god knows he's kept it up for several albums since. Are we to assume that you finally reach a point with artists like ole Sting there where you just give up? No more listens, you've had enough? Or do you continue subjecting yourself to, say, the work of Phil Collins, or Edie Brickell, et al, and simply decide not to waste any reader's time, let alone any more of your own? Do you ever lose hope? Examples appreciated. -- Thomas F., St. Albans, Vermont

[A] Of course I give up on people--a lot of them. Often I don't "lose hope" either--in the case of these two guys there was little or no hope to begin with. Edie Brickell, as it happens, is a different matter--I put in some time on her Steve Martin collabs, one of which as I recall was nearly a *. And since someone in your vicinity asked why I stopped reviewing Nils Petter Molvaer, that to me seems like a similar question. I bet Molvaer's later albums are pretty good--he was very consistent when I was writing about him. But all those albums serviced a rather narrow sliver of my earscape and, I suspect, weren't for most of my readers. So when they stopped coming free in the mail I didn't miss them. Plus he's the kind of artist I find even harder to review conveniently via streaming, which is never the way to go if you can avoid it. Too abstract, unsegmented, ambient.

[Q] In the intro to your 80's record guide you mention the change in listening habits caused by the introduction of CDs vs vinyl/cassette and having to consume the whole CD in one listening (inhuman!)--can I ask what are your feelings/listening habits now when it comes to CDs? Do you listen to the whole thing in one sitting or listen to a half at a time a la vinyl/cassette? -- Trevor Minter, Shoreham, West Sussex, England

[A] Basically, I succumbed--it is what the format would seem to insist upon, after all, and has led to adjusted pacing aesthetics and strategies. But I often program my changer to play three tracks apiece from CDs I haven't heard, then go back and play more of the ones I think might be worth the time. And the brute fact is that when I do a final pre-review listen complete with following the lyrics more assiduously, as I usually do before writing a full review, I often run out of gas midway through and go back a little later to finish, which is kind of the same thing as playing one side at a time.

[Q] I wonder if you've ever considered retrospective reviews (or perhaps just overviews) of albums from the early- and mid-sixties, that highly combustible phase of rock & roll. I've always been curious about, for example, whether you prefer Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde, or whether A Quick One is amusing enough to be a worthwhile buy. -- Dustin Lowman, Westport, Connecticut

[A] Not that I can't imagine devoting my eighties to writing that isn't for an audience. But basically, I write for two reasons: participating in a discourse I've devoted my creative life to and money. Were the right venue to offer me the right word rate, as Rolling Stone just barely did with those retrospective 1967 reviews I shared with David Fricke, I might take the gig, although that one was a lot of work if also considerable fun. But until that highly unlikely event occurs I can tell you from memory that A Quick One is worth your time.

[Q] Hello Mr Christgau. I would like to know which grade would you give to Tyler the Creator's last album, Flowerboy, if you had the opportunity to listen to it, and more generally your opinion about his solo career? Thank you. -- Adam, France

[A] Actually, a couple of positive, finally-he-fulfilled-his-potential reviews plus one or two Spotify headphone streams inspired me to buy Flowerboy, so thanks to this question I didn't quite throw the money away. Three-four more plays in I decided it wasn't worth reviewing--exactly why my current grading structure doesn't oblige me to articulate or try now to recall, except that it was more in the territory of bleh than of the usual fuck you asshole. Tyler shares with Van Morrison the honor of inspiring two different pieces in Jessica Hopper's recommended The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic. Both the Morrisons are raves, a bit over the top I'd say. Both the Tylers are mean, totally convincing pans. Yay.

[Q] Politically "rock critics" run in a hopey-changey herd. Take Greel. During Ronald Reagan's presidency he caterwauled about how America--a nebulous abstraction in which Greel has a vested interest--had betrayed him. No doubt voting Carter/Mondale then Mondale/Ferraro. Yet a recent historians' poll--did you miss it?--ranked Reagan as the most "influential" 20th century president after FDR, with some placing him third after Wilson or Teddy. A president is not a human being but an image, personality, character, idea, platform, administration, record, legacy, cop or crook, mix of both, legend for good or legend for ill, etc. Complicated. Alone the deep focus of time reveals a president's place in history. Which, face it, is academically sanctioned fake news. So, Dean Christgau, over time has your own opinion of Ronnie changed--especially in light of the exhausting dramedy of President Donald "Spankee" Trump from our beloved Queens? -- Coco Hannah Eckelberg, Long Island City, New York

[A] The historians' polls I've missed are without number, but the word "influential" is a typical non-normative academic/journalistic evasion--"most humane" is so ideological, and "best," fageddaboutit. Of course Reagan was influential. But he was also the most evil of 20th-century presidents. He began the evolution of the Republican Party into the amoral pack of Ayn Rand-worshipping, Jesus-perverting Repuglican empathy deniers it is today. He used the air traffic controllers strike to kick into gear an ongoing attack on the union movement that has done untold harm to most Americans. He empowered the entire Oliver North school of rightwing dark-op specialists who infest both government and the ever vaster private security infrastructure. He wasn't as bad as Trump because Trump is truly a special case--a barely sane megalomaniac who is among other things immensely more dangerous than Christianist hypocrite Mike Pence. And though I could go on, I have other things to do, so I'll stop except to say that rooted in racism though its promise will always be, I still believe in America too.

August 21, 2018

[Q] You're on the record as saying that Sinatra is your favourite singer of the first century of recorded music, but, apart from a couple of passing references, I'm not sure which of his albums you hold in highest esteem. I know you're a Capitol guy over Reprise and Columbia (who isn't, though). What are, for you, the A/A+ albums of Ol' Blue Eyes? Do you think there any Capitol duds? And are there any records from his other periods that you regularly spin? -- Tim McQueen, Brisbane, Australia

[A] Conceptually, this is important. I never said Sinatra was my favorite singer of the 20th century. In the obit I published in Details, I said he was the greatest singer. Which brings us immediately to the heart of all how-dare-you-rate-music questions. Yes, there is such a thing as assayable musical skill, and sometimes--usually but not always: bye-bye Steve Vai--this skill is enjoyable. Sinatra is definitely one of those cases. Concentrate on his his shading, his time, the way he strays a few microtones off pitch, and even if you couldn't describe those effects technically--which I can't, not with true specificity--you'll certainly be impressed, and if you're me, moved, engaged, occasionally enthralled. But that doesn't mean you have to like the man who achieved these effects, and in good criticism you make such distinctions, explicitly or implicitly, all the time. My wife, for instance, find herself generally unmoved by Sinatra's enactments of male vulnerability-as-mastery. Which is why I don't play a lot of Sinatra even though I have a dozen or two of his CDs in my shelves. My two favorites are the old-man anthology Everything Happens to Me, which I've written about (and which Carola does kind of like), and the classic Capitol ballad album In the Wee Small Hours. Of the uptempo Capitols, I like Songs for Swingin' Lovers. I always prefer him with Nelson Riddle, one of the few classic-pop arrangers I actively admire. Beyond those three albums, I've never had the opportunity to calibrate and probably never will, although I do explore albums I barely recall once or twice a year.

[Q] I was surprised when about a decade ago on the Expert Witness forum you said you rarely if ever listen to (the) radio. It's played an important if rapidly diminishing role in my own listening life, with college and non-commercial radio leading me to many artists I hadn't heard of before. My question is what role radio once had in your life, and when you stopped paying attention to it? And do you see any use to the algorithms that are rapidly taking radio's place? -- Mark Rosen, Dallas, Texas

[A] As with all queries as to my non-review-oriented listening, I ask everyone here to do the math. To find my Expert Witness quota, I devote say 90 percent of my pretty much continuous ear time to records I've yet to write about and may want to. So basically I haven't listened to the radio since it became possible to play cassettes in cars. Without question this skews my listening in many ways, including away from singles. It's not ideal critically either, as I well know, and I should say right now that I wouldn't live this way if I didn't get paid for it, although my ability to enjoy it as much as I do--and I do, often tremendously--is one of my critical gifts. But even if I had the time to play mostly whatever I felt like I doubt I'd return to the radio. Instead I'd play my A albums as much as it seems most of you do.

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