Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Grown Up All Wrong:
75 Great Rock and Pop Artists from Vaudeville to Techno

Paperback, 2000, Harvard University Press, 528 pages.
Hardcover, 1998, Harvard University Press, 528 pages.

Book Cover From publisher's catalog page:
A critical compendium of points of interest in American popular music and its far-flung diaspora, this book ranges from the 1950s singer-songwriter tradition through hip-hop, alternative, and beyond. With unfailing style and grace, Christgau negotiates the straits of great music and thorny politics, as in the cases of Public Enemy, blackface artist Emmett Miller, KRS-One, the Beastie Boys, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. He illuminates legends from pop music and the beginnings of rock and roll--George Gershwin, Nat King Cole, B. B. King, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley--and looks at the subtle transition to just plain "rock" in the music of Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and others. He praises the endless vitality of Al Green, George Clinton, and Neil Young. And from the Rolling Stones to Sonic Youth to Nirvana, from Bette Midler to Michael Jackson to DJ Shadow, he shows how money calls the tune in careers that aren't necessarily compromised by their intercourse with commerce.

Table of Contents

Introduction: My Favorite Waste of Time

Where "Rock and Roll" Began
Across the Great Divide: Nat King Cole
Let's Call the Whole Thing Pop: George Gershwin
The Complete Work of B. B. King
The Blank Slate: George Jones
Black Face, Whose Voice? Emmett Miller
Brown Eyed Handsome Rock and Roller: Chuck Berry
Elvis in Literature: Elvis Presley

Where "Rock" Began
Spontaneity by the Seat of the Pants: Janis Joplin
Our First Bohemians: The Rolling Stones
God Grows Up: Eric Clapton
Genius Dumb: Led Zeppelin
Jimi Plays History: Jimi Hendrix
Out of This World: Aretha Franklin
Nothing To Say but Everything, or, As Far as He Could Go: John Lennon with John Piccarella
Why the Beatles Broke Up
James Brown's Great Expectations

Snatched from the Maw of Commerce
Stevie Wonder Is All Things to All People
A Boogie Band that Loves the Governor (Boo Boo Boo): Lynyrd Skynyrd
Turn On, Drop In, Find Out: The Grateful Dead
Music for Smart People: Randy Newman
Time Waits for No One: Richard Thompson
Father Alone Farther Along: Loudon Wainwright III
Born to Be Mature: Bonnie Raitt
Two Rock and Rollers Who Won't Change the World: Pete Fowler & Andy Fairweather Low

Smashing the State of the Art
Acting Like a King Because: New York Dolls
Patti Smith Pisses in a Vanguard
The Clash See America Second
The Great Punk Dandy at the Peppermint Lounge: Richard Hell
Pere Ubu's Right To Choose
Forever Rotten: The Sex Pistols

Kings of Rhythm
Sylvester Is a Star
Triumph of the Trifle: Ray Parker Jr.
Working the Crowd: Bruce Springsteen & Michael Jackson
Give Him Liberty or Give Him Death: Prince
Magnificent Seven: Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
The Beastie Boys Go Too Far
Looking for the Perfect Public Enemy
An Autodidact's History of KRS-One

Between Punk and a Pop Place
A Voyage to Liliput
Simple Because He's Simple: Marshall Crenshaw with Carola Dibbell
Aching To Become: The Replacements
Living Legends: The B-52's
Sonic Youth Sell Out
Curse of the Mekons

They Are the World
West Africa Not Africa, Europe Not the World: Salif Keita & Youssou N'Dour
The Black Sea Giant and the Lion Queens: Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens
The Goat-God in History: The Master Musicians of Jajouka
A Goat-God in Exile: (Cheb) Khaled
The Iron Curtain at Midnight: Pulnoc
Culture Hero: Mzwakhe Mbuli

Careers in Iconicity
Madonnathinking Madonnabout Madonnamusic
Garth Brooks, Michael Bolton, Barney, and You: Garth Brooks
Bette Midler Sings Everything
Lou Reed, Average Guy
"What Are Realities of Prince Deal?" Hell, What Is Reality?
Making a Spectacle of Herself: Janet Jackson

Careers in Semipopularity
Selling the Dirt To Pay the Band: Freedy Johnston
Are We Not Girls? We Are L7!
Lucinda Williams's Reasonable Demands
The Ballad of Polly Jean Harvey: PJ Harvey
Two Backsliders: Iris DeMent & Sam Phillips
On the Real Side: Warren G & Coolio
Art-Rock You Can Dance To: DJ Shadow
Honk if You Love Honking: James Carter
Unlikely Samba: Arto Lindsay
Stereolad: Pavement
Grrrowing Grrrls: Sleater-Kinney
Blown Away: Nirvana

Nature's Noblemen
The Goduncle: George Clinton
Pop Songs to God: Al Green
Wasted on the Young: Neil Young


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