Greil Marcus discusses "The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs"


One of the finest critics gives us an altogether original history of rock 'n' roll.


Unlike all previous versions of rock 'n' roll history, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs omits almost every iconic performer and ignores the storied events and turning points that everyone knows. Instead, in a daring stroke, Greil Marcus selects ten songs recorded between 1956 and 2008, then proceeds to dramatize how each embodies rock 'n' roll as a thing in itself, in the story it tells, inhabits, and acts out--a new language, something new under the sun.


"Transmission" by Joy Division. "All I Could Do Was Cry" by Etta James and then Beyonce. "To Know Him Is to Love Him," first by the Teddy Bears and almost half a century later by Amy Winehouse. In Marcus's hands these and other songs tell the story of the music, which is, at bottom, the story of the desire for freedom in all its unruly and liberating glory. Slipping the constraints of chronology, Marcus braids together past and present, holding up to the light the ways that these striking songs fall through time and circumstance, gaining momentum and meaning, astonishing us by upending our presumptions and prejudices. This book, by a founder of contemporary rock criticism--and its most gifted and incisive practitioner--is destined to become an enduring classic.


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Greil Marcus is an American author, music journalist and cultural critic. He is notable for producing scholarly and literary essays that place rock music in a much broader framework of culture and politics than is customary in pop music journalism. He writes for newspapers and magazines including Rolling Stone and The Village Voice.


Event date: 
Monday, December 1, 2014 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
38 S Snelling Ave
55105 Saint Paul
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The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780300187373
Availability: Unavailable - Out of Print
Published: Yale University Press - September 2nd, 2014