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Real Life Rock: The Complete Top Ten Columns, 1986-2014 Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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Also, since it is Marcus, you get a heaping helping of dada/performance art/whatever-it-is folderol… the stuff you can skip over to get to the good parts.
So, if you've got pockets of time to kill, this book is a good way to do it.
Pick any page and the lines jump right out - ridiculous lines, insightful one, really really funny ones - and they're all infuriating: largely because they are so good. This is a really interesting collection of a really interesting idea - back in 1986 Marcus started writing lists that reflected what was going on with his listening, reading, viewing and with his life. Gradually other things started peeking in, or became visible around the edges and what we have now is a fascinating, distinctly personal alternate history of the last 30 or so years.
This is the perfect book to dip in and out of, but damn, it's hard to not read just one more of those short little pieces. Yesterday afternoon p110 sent me off to listen to Dylan's mighty fine Good As I Been To You, and on the bus this morning my ipod rattled along withSonic Youth and the Vulgar Boatmen.
Marcus isn't for everyone, but there's enough here to keep anyone interested and it really is a good way to pass some time.
I was thinking about this last night and I think the first thing I read of his was his liner notes to The Basement Tapes. It took a while to get my hands on Mystery Train (and wouldn't you know when I finally did it was in Duluth, MN back in 1989 - as you do) and I've tried to keep up with him as much as possible through the years. One really fine thing about this collection is how it shows Marcus' relationships with music and art shifting and changing over the years, and there's hardly a finer history of Dylan's musical renaissance than in these pages. He shows up early and often, in asides, in head scratching lines where Marcus is trying to figure out what's going on with Dylan and what's going on with his relationship with Dylan (as a listener). Is there a better summary of 1997's Time Out Of Mind than this (p159): "A Western. It starts with Clint Eastwood's face at the end of Unforgiven, then turns around and heads back east like bad weather", or this (p267) from his take on Summer Days (from Love & Theft): "...the singer shouts from inside a roadhouse where a Western Swing band is running a jitterbug beat as if it's twirling a rope. On the dance floor women are flipping in the air and couples snap back at each other like towels in a locker room. The singer high-steps his way across the room, Stetson topping his Nudie suit. How much proof do you want that the night can't go wrong? "Why don't you break my heart one more time," he says happily to the woman at his side, "just for good luck?" He stretches out the last word as if he can't bear to give it up."
Damn you Marcus. Oh bloody hell, now I'm blasting the live version from 2002 - Dylan and that band back in New York ripping the place apart.
Order it, have your iPod ready, have your turntable ready, have strong drink close at hand and be ready to get lost for an afternoon. Or a weekend.
Oh, no, look what he says on p486,.. I have to go, it's Bikini Kill time.
"The power in any society is with those who get to impose the fantasy. It is no longer, as it was for centuries throughout Europe, the church that imposes its fantasy on the populace, nor is it the totalitarian superstate that imposes the fantasy, as it did for 12 years in Nazi Germany and for 69 years in the Soviet Union. Now the fantasy that prevails is the all-consuming, voraciously consumed popular culture, seemingly spawned by, of all things, freedom. The young especially live according to beliefs that are thought up for them by the society’s most unthinking people and by the businesses least impeded by innocent ends. Ingeniously as their parents and teachers may attempt to protect the young from being drawn, to their detriment, into the moronic amusement park that is now universal, the preponderance of the power is not with them."
Also, Greil, your opinion on this from Pennsylvania Johnny:
"A writer's fan base, unlike that of a rock star, is post-adolescent, and relatively tolerant of time's scars; it distressed me to read of some teenager who, subjected to the Rolling Stones' halftime entertainment at a recent Super Bowl, wondered why that skinny old man (Mick Jagger) kept taking his shirt off and running around."