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Da Capo Best Music Writing 2001: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Pop, Jazz, Country, and More Paperback – October 2, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Da Capo Best Music Writing
  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo; Revised edition (October 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306810662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306810664
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #954,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Da Capo presents an anthology of exemplary music writing from the likes of Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, the Chicago Reader, the Oxford American and Salon during the last year, a dual history of what music makes of culture and what culture makes of music. Despite seemingly boundless support for the cult of youth, editor Hornby (High Fidelity; How to Be Good) keeps his personal preferences in check here, introducing the collection with caveats and contrition, and a humanist vibe. Notable standouts include N.R. Kleinfield's meditations on hip-hop and race, Rian Malan's historiographic study of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and a West Bank rapper slice-of-life from Lorraine Ali. Overall, however, this second collection in the Da Capo series leans toward the most prolific and market-friendly genre namely, the ber-culture of rock and roll. Follow the cash cow through youthful self-indulgence (Richard Meltzer on Cameron Crowe) to righteous self-indulgence (Jim DeRogatis on Third Eye Blind) and the eventual self-indulgent nostalgia (Nick Tosches on the back rooms and wise-guy days of "pay-per-play"). These are telling pieces on tried-and-true themes. But the integrity of the work often supersedes the spectacle and thrill of the subject matter, offering in their place wit, intelligent criticism and consistently great writing. Unfortunately, this is another one for the boys: the lack of women writers and performers represented reveals an obvious and disappointing slant typical of the arena (and history) of rock. Hornby, of course, will attract an audience somewhat bigger than the music-geek population.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Da Capo's annual scores again with a wide-ranging, largely literate offering of provocative commentary. Especially entertaining is Chicago Sun-Times pop-music critic Jim DeRogatis' transcript of his "conversation (edited only for length)" with Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind, a band DeRogatis has excoriated in print. The back-and-forth between the enthusiastic pup of a rocker and the accommodating but acerbic columnist cuts right to the fulcrum of rock crit. Also cutting, perhaps in a different sense, is Lori Robertson on old critics critiquing young music, which isn't the ultimate piece on "overcomprehension" but nicely summarizes the state of discussion about it. Pieces on Napster and Neil Young, each gnarly in its/his own way, and Eminem are notable, but "The Rock Snob's Dictionary" should be required reading for pop-music critics and their readers because it devilishly skewers such haughty conceits as the importance of Gene Clark, Gram Parsons, and Lee "Scratch" Perry. Wait a minute. Diss Lee "Scratch" Perry? Heresy!! But, hey, what good is rock 'n' roll without generational conflict? Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ensiform on February 6, 2003
Another collection on music writing.from Da Capo, this edition does not dissapoint admirers of the previous year's entry. Hornsby has chosen well, representing a broad spectrum of styles and artists (though it must be said that women and black artists are given relatively short shrift). The most interesting pieces seem to be, once again, those on the least mainstream artists, probably because so much has been said about the hitmakers before. Still, all the pieces are at least interesting (however, I don't understand why NPR editor Sarah Vowell's short essay on Al Gore is included). Standouts include terrific novelist Steve Erickson's attempt to capture the mercurial Neil Young on paper; a sad tribute of sorts to the forgotten South African Zulu, Solomon Linda, who improvised the melody to the song we know as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight;" a lengthy New York Times piece on the impact of hip-hop culture on whites and blacks, and how they in turn shape the culture; and Metal Mike Sauders making a surprisingly good case for Disney Radio being the ultimate independent station. More disappointing are a nostalgic homage to the gangsters that ran the early rock business by the usually powerful Nick Tosches, a prosaic account of a Barbra Streisand concert by a non-fan, and an uninformative tribute to Jeff Buckley by his neighbor. But, as I said, all of the material here is at least interesting, and there's much here that will inspire readers to listen as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Bourke on August 31, 2005
Nick Hornby opens his introductory essay to Da Capo Best Music Writing 2001 (Da Capo Press) with an admission. He was in his fifth decade before he got his first regular music-writing gig, for The New Yorker. His first fax from a major label was a press release saying that a leading female artist had signed an exclusive deal with a brand of shampoo. He wonders whether the fax should feature in this anthology: music writing should reflect what's happening, and "what's more representative of the zeitgeist than this sort of crap? Isn't this what they mean by synergy?"

Hornby has captured the spirit of the age with his selections of 2001's best (American) music journalism. There are pieces that couldn't have been written at any other time, on Napster, say, or Eminem. But he hasn't wasted space trying to be hipper than thou, and there's a timelessness to the best pieces: who they're writing about isn't as important as how they're written. One of the best isn't really about music at all: Robbie Fulks describing his tax audit (on the web at [...] There's Memphis writer Robert Gordon's sensitive report on the disintegration of Jeff Buckley, singer Mike Doughty debunking the myth of dangerous rock, and Rian Malan on the convoluted provenance of `The Lion Sleeps Tonight'. Hornby initially wanted to showcase a new, young group of writers (in fact, one piece examines the dilemma of the ageing music writer, a topic Hornby himself was sneered at for discussing in the NY Times of 23 May 2004). But he found the strongest work came not from pimply webzine writers but from veterans - and venerable outlets such as The New Yorker and the New York Times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By m_noland on November 30, 2003
In this edition of Da Capo's "Best Music Writing" guest editor Nick Hornby has put the emphasis on relatively established writers tackling music-related themes though not necessarily the music per se. Two of the standout pieces from this mold are South African journalist Rian Malan (author of the incredible memoir "My Traitor's Heart") on the vicissitudes of the continuing legal wrangling over "Wimoweh" in which New York business sharks in essence defrauded its illiterate South African writer Solomon Lindo who died in poverty; and Nick Tosches funny piece on a group of now elderly wiseguys reminiscing on the underworld connections that made 1950s-1960s rock and roll. Granta editor Bill Buford contributes a very revealing portrait of alt-country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams. Three unusual and enjoyable pieces are alt.country singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks' encounter with the IRS (think low-rent Willie Nelson), the fan letter of Jonathan Lethem (editor of the subsequent 2002 collection) to the Go-Betweens, and Jim DeRogatis' acrimonious interview with Third Eye Blind singer Stephan Jenkins in which he invites Jenkins to give as good as he gets. A good compilation, would make a good gift for anyone interested in popular music.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 2001
A first-rate collection of music writing assembled by Nick Hornby. As excellent as I would expect from Mr. Hornby, author of the music obsessive's novel, "High Fidelity".
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