I recently read through, and reviewed, Greil Marcus’ earlier collection of columns about pop culture, music and politics — Real Life Rock — without realizing that he had a brand new collection out called More Real Life Rock. So I grabbed that one, too, and, as with the first, I enjoyed most of what Marcus has written in these Top Ten formatted short pieces of analysis and insights, almost always with some connection to music.
While the first collection covered a span of time from 1986 to 2014, as Marcus jumped from different platforms to host his column, this second collection is more modern day, with a big part taking place during the Trump years. The years covered in this one is from 2014-2021, and again, was hosted in a variety of places.
The insights of Marcus are always intriguing as he mixed quotes and editorials and reviews of music and shows, and sometimes, friends writing in to him about the world, and yet, he always seems fixated on some central artists of the past — Bob Dylan and the Band continue to get featured quite a bit, sometimes in celebratory mode but just as often, with a critical eye. Sleater-Kinney gets lots of ink in this collection, and that’s a good thing.
I appreciated learning about many musical artists that I had not heard of before, and it’s clear that Marcus has a veracious appetite for music and art, and through the reading of these columns (which ran in places like Barnes & Noble online magazine, Pitchfork and others), one can make a connection to the larger world, of how art intersects with culture and politics. His playfulness with skewering the Top Ten format is appreciated.
I won’t say I agreed with all of his views, and that’s OK. He can have a biting way with words, particularly if he doesn’t like something or finds it lacking in integrity or originality. I prefer that voice of his in this context, as it resonates through the entire collection of pieces. Apparently, he’s once again without a platform home (I wonder what editors think of his pieces), but I read that he is might be moving his Top Ten column over to Substack as a newsletter in the near future, so I might wander over and see what he’s up to there.
Peace (and criticism),