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reading tiger

Reading Wednesday

As you might have been able to guess from posting that quote earlier this week, I am currently reading Rip It Up: The Black Experience In Rock 'n' Roll edited by Kandia Crazy Horse. I'm a little behind on my seminal music writing, what can I say. My biggest criticism so far is that many of the pieces (several of which are reprints) are too short. This book could easily be twice its length -- and it's not slim already.

Rip It Up is a pointed counter to Greil Marcus' definition of rock music as "black music played by white people." I understand why Marcus defined it that way and I completely understand why it pisses off Crazy Horse, Greg Tate (who wrote the forward) and other authors in this book. It's half-true, pleasingly glib, and erases far too much. This book is designed as a corrective and proceeds roughly chronologically from a fun "10 Questions For Little Richard" to an article on the "rap-rock poetics" of Andre 3000, Mos Def and Pharrell Williams. (Rip It Up was published in 2004.) There's also a very nice essay on Prince, centered around the 1999 album.

Do not skip the "Black Rock Glossary" in the back, which is basically an A-Z list of black rock performers but has hidden gems like " [Terence Trent D'Arby's] subsequent release, Symphony or Damn, was undeservedly slept on, being a power pop masterpiece that would be deemed one of the top albums of the 1990s if some whiteboy like Beck had recorded it." Opinions differ, but I cackle nonetheless.

Crazy Horse has quit music journalism and now makes music -- country music -- instead; I re-read a bunch of her old columns recently alongside this book and it was so, so worth it, particularly her discussion of the Rolling Stones.