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Da Capo Best Music Writing 2003: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Pop, Jazz, Country & More


It's here: the fourth and latest volume in the series that you have come to rely upon for your music reading fix. The 2003 volume will celebrate the year's best writing about music and its culture with a selection of pieces on a dazzling array of topics drawn from more ...

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It's here: the fourth and latest volume in the series that you have come to rely upon for your music reading fix. The 2003 volume will celebrate the year's best writing about music and its culture with a selection of pieces on a dazzling array of topics drawn from more than a hundred sources-remarkable essays by journalists and authors who are as serious about writing as they are about music.Past contributors have included:* Jonathan Lethem
• David Rakoff
• Mike Doughty
• Lorraine Ali
• Greil Marcus
• Richard Meltzer
• Robert Gordon
• Sarah Vowell
• Nick Tosches
• Anthony DeCurtis
• William Gay
• Whitney Balliett
• Lester Bangs
• Rosanne Cash
• Susan Orlean
• David Hadju
• Lenny Kaye
• The Onion
• Mark Jacobson
• Gary Giddins
• John Leland
• Luc Sante
• Monica Kendrick
• Kalefa Sanneh

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Editorial Reviews
I think 2003's edition might be the best yet. Each page makes me want to either dance or visit a rock star's grave.
he best of it is quality investigative journalism.
Publishers Weekly
This fourth volume is edited by Simpsons creator and onetime music critic Groening, who writes that he didn't try for any overview of significant trends, but instead "just went for essays jammed with information and conveyed with style, passion and wit." Each of the 21 examples vividly displays those qualities, and there is nary a weak essay (although, once again, writings on country, reggae and classical are sparsely represented). Some of the best include Bill Tuomala's hilarious alternate history of Van Halen, with the rock superstars recast as underground critics' favorites who never achieved success in an era when punk groups like the Ramones were "dominating the charts"; Chuck Klosterman's investigation of the present-day popularity among Mexican-Americans of Morrissey, the sexually ambiguous front man of the mid-1980s British cult band the Smiths; two long pieces from the New Yorker on funk legend James Brown and recently rediscovered bluesman R.L. Burnside; and Elvis Costello's remarkable selections for what he sees as appropriate listening music for every hour of the day, from 6 a.m. to 5 a.m. As in previous collections, satirical writers from the Onion provide criticism masked as comic relief in "37 Record-Store Clerks Feared Dead in Yo La Tengo Concert Disaster" ("It's just a twisted mass of black-frame glasses and ironic Girl Scouts T-shirts in there"). (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
There are so many "best" collections these days, it's probably tempting to just say no to all of them. Providing students with good writing on music, though, is a particularly useful "stretching" service. Music is a huge part of teenagers' lives, and they mostly follow the crowd without any discriminating distinctions (ditto for movies). So here's a subject they're already very interested in and a number may be ready to follow more sophisticated thinking on the subject. With this collection, there's the added boost of The Simpsons' creator, Matt Groening, as guest editor (he started his writing life as a rock critic). Material is drawn from a nice mix of publications (The Onion, Spin, The New Yorker) and writers include The Orchid Thief's Susan Orleans, novelist Jay McInerney and musician Elvis Costello. Genres include rock, pop, jazz and country. At just about 20 selections, there's variety without the number of pieces looking overwhelming. Worth a shot to see what the student response is. KLIATT Codes: SA-Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Da Capo Press, 297p. bibliog., Ages 15 to adult.
— Daniel Levinson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306812361
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 10/7/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Matt Groening, who began his career as a rock critic, changed television forever when he brought animation back to prime time with the immortal nuclear family The Simpsons. He is also creator and executive producer of the FOX animated series Futurama, as well as the comics Life in Hell and Akbar and Jeff. He lives in Los Angeles. Paul Bresnick is a literary agent and editor who has edited many award-winning music books. He lives in New York City and East Hampton.

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