Books: “The History of Rock and Roll in Ten Songs”, by Greil Marcus

Among rock scholars, Greil Marcus, one of the most lucid minds on the phenomenon together with Lester Bangs or Dave March, is from the best time of “Rolling Stone”. Marcus, constant in his defense of the character of popular culture of music and clairvoyant to put it in connection with other human and social manifestations, gives us here the analysis of ten songs from which weave a labyrinthine framework that covers the history of Almost a hundred years of pop drive in their different nicknames, from Robert Johnson to BeyoncĂ©, almost nothing.

His first book, “Mistery Train”, was a revulsive one to the official history when channeling the evolution of rock in artists who had considered until then splendid companions, not main drivers; And here he also crosses the paths through unsuspected paths, songs that have been relegated, others sanctioned by the canon and mass phenomena. Another story of the music in which the Brains, Joy Division and Amy Winehouse live together in the hidden rock and roll verges, one that says that the present does not exist and that, therefore, we have to look for everything to look new, To the abyss.

It is also true that it works with subjective parameters as value; Any fan has already built its history, its festival, its transfer of spirits between bands, its connection lines. These are Marcus’s. This is how Maurice Williams tricks himself into singing ‘Stay’ or how ‘Shake Some Action’ seems to show that rock and roll can be reinvented anytime, anywhere.

The somewhat lyrical but direct style, clear but dreamy, tells how Leonard Chess pulls out of the hollow of Etta James, goes from the naturalness of Buddy Holly – more authentic than the cries of zeal of others – Dylan or Tin Pan Alley, runs the songs that deal with money and the mechanisms of punk. Well, it focuses on ten songs but reveals hundreds of mysteries, from Doc Pomus to Lou Reed.

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