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.
|Publisher:||Duke University Press Books|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
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.
Table of Contents
Introduction. Robert Christgau's Greatest Hits: Volume UUU 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 Harry Smith Makes History: 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 Caring the Hard Way: Frank Sinatra: 1915-1998 159 Like Ringing a Bell: 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: 1901. Ramone2. 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: 2091. Queen of Pop2. Familiar and Fabulous Two Pieces About Bob Dylan: 2141. Dylan Back: World Goes On2. Secrets of the Sphinx 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 Attack of the Chickenshits: Steve Earle 245 Facing Mecca: Youssou N'Dour 249 Three Pieces About M.I.A1. Burning Bright2. 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 Adult Contemporary: Grant McLennan: 1958-2006 337 Titan. Polymath. Naturalist: Ray Charles: 1930-2004 338 He Got Us: 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 425
What People are Saying About This
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”