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Thursday, Jul 17, 2003

rockist paradigm

"Then again, maybe itís not a problem that so much pop-music scholarship sounds conspicuously uncool. For decades, jazz rhapsodists and rock poets were so intent on projecting attitude that they never got around to saying much about the music itself. The pioneering rock critics of the sixties, such as Lester Bangs and Greil Marcus, wanted to mimic the music in their prose, and they had enough style to pull it off. Bangs, whose writings have been collected in a new anthology from Anchor Books, lived the life of a rock star, or at least died the death of one. But his writings are a better guide to the mentality of smart people who went to rock shows in the sixties and seventies than they are a reliable record of music and musicians. Discussing the Rolling Stones in 1974, Bangs wrote, ďIf you think Iím going to review the new ĎItís Only Rock íní Rollí album right now, you are crazy. But I am going to swim in it.Ē Between prose poetry and academic cant there has to be a middle ground, and pop-music studies is searching it out."

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