The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus - review by Charles Shaar Murray

Charles Shaar Murray

Only Connect

The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs


Yale University Press 307pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

List books! Huh! Good God, y’all, what are they good for? If they’re of the ‘1,000 Varieties of Potatoes You Absolutely Must Eat Before You Die’ variety – bought but never read and almost invariably dumped into charity shops by their ungrateful recipients – the answer is undoubtedly, to quote Edwin Starr, ‘absolutely nothing’. Ditto for the outbreak of lists that now encrust all manner of printed and digital media: a predigested version of culture, designed for easy spoon-feeding, compiled by people who’re being nerdy and geeky about their chosen field of expertise so that you don’t have to.

The title of Greil Marcus’s latest book therefore induces a minor frisson of trepidation: one wonders if one of the pre-eminent American cultural pundits of his generation has succumbed to market-induced prodding from agent or publisher and produced a list book. Worse! The title is eerily reminiscent of two extant

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