• Is It Still Good to Ya?: Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017

    Author(s):
    Pages: 456
  • Cloth: $109.95 - Not In Stock
    978-1-4780-0008-2
  • Paperback: $24.95 - Not In Stock
    978-1-4780-0022-8
  • Introduction. Rock Criticism vs. the Guilty Pleasure  1
    Prologue. Good to Ya, Not for Ya: Rock Criticism vs. the Guilty Pleasure  9
    I. History in the Making
    Ten-Step Program for Growing Better Ears  19
    Dionysus in Theory and Practice  19
    B.E.: A Dozen Moments in the Prehistory of Rock and Roll 27
    Let's Get Busy in Hawaiian: A Hundred Years of Ragged Beats and Cheap Tunes  34
    Rock Lyrics Are Poetry (Maybe)  42
    "We Have to Deal With It": Punk England Report  48
    Rock 'n' Roller Coaster: The Music Biz on a Joyride  65
    Not My Fault, Not My Problem: Classic Rock  76
    A Weekend in Paradise: Woodstock '94  81
    Staying Alive: Postclassic Disco  96
    Compiling a Canon: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music  103
    Getting Their Hands Dirty: Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life  107
    A Month on the Town  111
    U.S. and Them: Are American Pop (and Semi-Pop) Still Exceptional? And by the Way, Does That Make Them Better?  120
    What I Listen for in Music  130
    II. A Great Tradition
    Pops as Pop: Louis Armstrong  135
    Not So Misterioso: Thelonious Monk  140
    First Lady of Song: Billie Holiday  149
    Folksinger, Wordslinger, Start Me a Song: Woody Guthrie  154
    Frank Sinatra: 1915-1998  159
    Chuck Berry: 1926-2017  161
    Unnaturals: The Coasters with No Strings Attached  165
    Black Elvis: Same Cooke  172
    Tough Love: Etta James  176
    The Excitement! The Terror!: Miles Davis's '70s  181
    Sister, Oh Sister: Kate and Anna McGarrigle  185
    Two Pieces About the Ramones:  190
    1. Ramone
    2. Road to Ruin
    Nevermore: Nirvana  196
    A Long Short Story: The Go-Betweens  200
    Generation Gaps: The Spice Girls  204
    Ooh, That Sound: The Backstreet Boys  206
    Tear the Sky Off the Mother: 'N Sync  207
    The World is His Boudoir: Prince  208
    Two Pieces About Aretha Franklin:  209
    1. Queen of Pop
    2. Familiar and Fabulous
    Two Pieces About Bob Dylan:  214
    1. Dylan Back: World Goes On
    2. Not Dead Yet
    Ain't Dead Yet: Holy Modal Rounders  220
    How to Survive on an Apple Pie Diet: John Prine  221
    The Unflashiest: Willie Nelson  225
    III. Millennium
    Music from a Desert Storm  231
    Ghost Dance  238
    The Moldy Peaches Slip You a Roofie  241
    Facing Mecca: Youssou N'Dour  249
    Three Pieces About M.I.A
    1. Burning Bright
    2. Quotations from Charmin M.I.A.
    3. Right, the Record
    IV. From Which All Blessings Flow
    Full Immersion with Suspect Tendencies: Paul Simon's Graceland  259
    Fela and His Lessers  267
    Vendant l'Afrique  270
    Dakar in Gear  275
    A God After Midnight: Youssou N'Dour  278
    Franco d Mi Amor  279
    Forty Years of History, Thirty Seconds of Joy  285
    Tribulations of St. Joseph: Ladysmith Black Mambazo  289
    Music from a Desert War  292
    V. Postmodern Times
    Growing by Degrees: Kanye West  301
    The Slim Shady Essay: Eminem  303
    Career Opportunity: The Perceptionists  314
    Good Morning, Little School Girl: R. Kelly  316
    Master and Sacrament: Buddy Guy  319
    The Commoner Queen: Mary J. Blige  321
    A Hot Little Weirdo: Shakira  323
    What's Not to Like?: Norah Jones  326
    No-Hope Radio: Radiohead  330
    Rather Exhilarating: Sonic Youth  334
    Grant McLennan: 1958-2006  337
    Ray Charles: 1930-2004  338
    James Brown: 1933-2006  339
    Old Master: Bob Dylan  342
    Estudando Tom Zé  343
    Gypsy Is His Autopilot: Gogol Bordello  349
    Triumph of the Id: Lil Wayne  353
    Brag Like That: Jay-Z  357
    Paisley's Progress: Brad Paisley  362
    Smart and Smarter: Vampire Weekend  367
    The Many Reasons to Love Wussy  372
    Hearing Her Pain: Fiona Apple  377
    Firestarter: Miranda Lambert  381
    Monster Anthems: Lady Gaga  384
    Dancing on Her Own: Robyn  388
    Three More Pieces About M.I.A.:  393
    1. Spread out, Reach High: M.I.A.'s Kala
    2. Illygirl Steppin Up
    3. Spelled Backwards It's "Aim"
    The Unassumingest: Lori McKenna  400
    VI. Got to Be Driftin' Along
    Who Knows It Feels It: Bob Marley  407
    Shape Shifter: David Bowie: 1947-2016  411
    The Most Gifted Artist of the Rock Era: Prince: 1958-2016  414
    Forever Old: Leonard Cohen: 1933-2016  416
    Sticking It in Their Ear: Bob Dylan  419
    Don't Worry About Nothing: Ornette Coleman  420
    Sensualistic, Polytheistic: New York Dolls  421
    Index
     
  •  "You either love Christgau or you don’t, but his cantankerous, affectionate, cut-to-the chase reviews and essays over the past 50 years have defined music journalism, and this collection offers an opportunity to re-read the best of the self-proclaimed Dean of American Rock Critics."

    "At a moment when music criticism seems less empowered for being more fragmented, Christgau still offers an informed, authoritative perspective, self-aware regarding cultural aging and mortality, not stodgy but wry. A vital chronicler of rock's story, several decades on."
     

    "The self-proclaimed dean of rock criticism is now in his 70s, and his ongoing influence is felt wherever thoughtful music writing is valued. This collection of work spanning 1967–2017 highlights his omnivorous taste, showing Christgau to be just as comfortable reflecting on Woody Guthrie, Sam Cooke, and the Spice Girls as he is on Radiohead, Mary J. Blige, or Youssou N’Dour."

    Reviews

  •  "You either love Christgau or you don’t, but his cantankerous, affectionate, cut-to-the chase reviews and essays over the past 50 years have defined music journalism, and this collection offers an opportunity to re-read the best of the self-proclaimed Dean of American Rock Critics."

    "At a moment when music criticism seems less empowered for being more fragmented, Christgau still offers an informed, authoritative perspective, self-aware regarding cultural aging and mortality, not stodgy but wry. A vital chronicler of rock's story, several decades on."
     

    "The self-proclaimed dean of rock criticism is now in his 70s, and his ongoing influence is felt wherever thoughtful music writing is valued. This collection of work spanning 1967–2017 highlights his omnivorous taste, showing Christgau to be just as comfortable reflecting on Woody Guthrie, Sam Cooke, and the Spice Girls as he is on Radiohead, Mary J. Blige, or Youssou N’Dour."

  • “Christgau is the last true-blue record critic on earth. That's pretty much who I make my records for. He's like the last of that whole Lester Bangs generation of record reviewers, and I still heed his words.” — Ahmir Questlove Thompson

    “All these years later, Robert Christgau is not just rock criticism's ‘Dean,’ he's its most rabid defender and most withering internal vetter. His prose is still brilliant, offering as much pleasure, sentence by sentence, as anyone's. This book nearly always excited me, and the writing buoyed me along even when the ideas made me want to hurl it across the room. I'm glad I didn't: this is a book to be treasured.” — Jody Rosen

    “Robert Christgau is music writing's great omnivore, and his appetite hasn't diminished in the sixth and seventh decades of his life. The twenty-first century has been a tumultuous one in popular music and Christgau brings his gimlet-eyed wit, deep knowledge, and inimitable heart to this era with the same verve he had as a countercultural kid. Long may the Dean live; as this collection proves with ease, we still need him.” — Ann Powers

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  • Description

    Is It Still Good to Ya? sums up the career of longtime Village Voice stalwart Robert Christgau, who for half a century has been America's most widely respected rock critic, honoring a music he argues is only more enduring because it's sometimes simple or silly. While compiling historical overviews going back to Dionysus and the gramophone along with artist analyses that range from Louis Armstrong to M.I.A., this definitive collection also explores pop's African roots, response to 9/11, and evolution from the teen music of the '50s to an art form compelled to confront mortality as its heroes pass on. A final section combines searching obituaries of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen with awed farewells to Bob Marley and Ornette Coleman.

    About The Author(s)

    Robert Christgau currently contributes a weekly record column to Noisey. In addition to four dozen Village Voice selections, Is It Still Good to Ya? collects pieces from the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Spin, Billboard, and many other venues, including a hundred-word squib from the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. The most recent of Christgau's six previous books is the 2015 memoir Going into the City: Portrait of the Critic as a Young Man. He taught music history and writing at New York University from 2005 to 2016.
Fall 2018
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