Chuck Eddy's 'Rock and Roll Always Forgets': 25 years of unique pop-music writing

I admit it: It took me a good 10 years to “get” Chuck Eddy. Reading his early pieces, mostly in The Village Voice, where music editor and ultra-talent-scout Robert Christgau showcased Eddy’s idiosyncratic ardencies (Montgomery Gentry? White Wizzard?) and a prose style that was conversational if your idea of conversation was being hectored by a good-natured obsessive, I was stumped. Eddy defeated my pride in being able to ignore the taste of a critic as long as he or she wrote well. His aesthetic seemed random, if not willfully, showily perverse.

But eventually – through sheer quality; through sheer quantity (as a once and future freelancer myself, I admire a man who churns out well-wrought sentences by the ream) – Eddy won me over. How glad I am to see the publication of Eddy’s new song(s) of himself Rock and Roll Always Forgets: A Quarter Century of Music Criticism (Duke University Press). Glad, first, because it’s truly a representative selection, tracing the slithery paths of Eddy’s enthusiasms from Marilyn Manson to Mindy McCready just to stick with the “M”s, with tart new intros that set up reprints of some of his greatest hits. And glad, second, that there exist publishers still willing to release anthologies of rock writing, since so much great rock criticism remains uncollected, neglected, less forgotten than never known to a wider audience. (Can we get a Tom Smucker book together, please? I’ll edit the damn thing myself.)

As Chuck Klosterman writes in his introduction, “When Chuck hears a pop song, it’s like he is the first person who has ever heard it.” Eddy’s greatest strength as a thinker about music is that he is never beholden to the received canon of great work, or the consensus of either mass taste or contemporary criticism. Just read his succinct summation of the critical appeal of Kurt Cobain: “Cobain came out of a subculture that puts a premium on stupid integrity, he was embraced by rock critics who put a premium on stupid integrity, and he didn’t want to disappoint them.” But Eddy’s also not merely ornery, predictably zigging where everyone else is zagging, just to get attention or preen about his independence. Indeed, Eddy is one of the least ostentatious first-rate music writers ever. He doesn’t mind admitting his ignorance in print as long as it serves to make a point about the music at hand: “If I’d cared about music back in ’76 instead of worrying about whether I’d get a varsity letter for my debate team experience, I probably wouldn’t be able to claim that Too Tough To Die is the first Ramones album that’s ever really mattered to me,” he begins one piece. I daresay no one in the history of Ramones-writing has ever set down anything but the true or feigned wisdom that Ramones (1976) and Rocket To Russia (1977), the band’s debut and third discs, contain the best Ramones music. Doesn’t matter to Eddy – he continues to build a fascinating, insightful argument about a band at a crossroads, or maybe at its end.

Eddy can make his ambivalence – hell, his basic confusion – about the importance of Jay-Z into as good a description of Jay-Z’s music as has been set down by any hardcore fan. I find his gradual move from heavy metal/noise enthusiast to pop/country aficionado, as it plays out over the course of this volume, both logical and exciting. Eddy’s achievement here is to make apparent artlessness artful; to make gut instinct work as a fully thought-through  aesthetic. Other anthologies of music writing leave you wanting to race to hear the music being written about. Rock and Roll Always Forgets leaves me wanting to read more Chuck Eddy. And more, and more…

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (17 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2
  • StreetFightinMan

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. Pleasant Dreams is the best Ramones album ever. All the others have great songs, but there is only one that is rock solid from top to bottom and that is Pleasant Dreams. Smash your radio, download this now, open your eyes and give the Ramones your airwaves. “We came across a miracle, there was beer in the soda machine.”

  • viviennewestwood

    Great article. I cant wait to hear more about your research tool. If it is as good as your other products, then you will have another winner. Your article pretty much summed up what I have been seeing too. Great to see some hard data.

  • coachfactoryoutlet

    This is some great news. With a few new sites going live this is excellent information to use to make a plan of action. I just had to drop which you line to mention that i thoroughly enjoyed this post from yours, I get subscribed for a RSS feeds and have skimmed a few of your articles or blog posts before but this one really were standing out in my situation. Youll appreciate your appreciation. Together with keep operating a blog. Thanks again guys for sharing such excellent information!

    • Bianca

      something about Chuck that I was absolutely not at all etaerhtned or nervous about letting him into my condo. Actually, that says something about YOU. He was a STRANGER that you met on the internet and had a drink with, ONCE .and you let him into your condo?! Not trying to judge = just trying to show you how overly trusting you are. You are putting yourself in unsafe positions and you dont realize it. Read about boundaries and please be more careful! (No, this is not your mother. Just another former online-dater who is worrying about you

  • coachfactoryoutlet

    Thanks for disclosing this research to us. Wowww , real extense article, i found it brief and targeted to the point. I could tell how great you are in your field of interest. You could relate in each detail very well. Thank you for spending a time on sharing such informative writings to us. I will bookmark your page and looking forward to read some more of your writings soon.

  • tresorparis

    This is some great news. With a few new sites going live this is excellent information to use to make a plan of action. I just had to drop which you line to mention that i thoroughly enjoyed this post from yours, I get subscribed for a RSS feeds and have skimmed a few of your articles or blog posts before but this one really were standing out in my situation. Youll appreciate your appreciation. Together with keep operating a blog. Thanks again guys for sharing such excellent information!

  • viviennewestwood

    Youareamazing! This weblog is so great. I really hope a lot more people read this and get what you are saying, cause let me tell you, its critical stuff. I never would have thought about it this way unless I would run into your web site. Thanks for sharing it. I hope youve excellent achievement.

  • viviennewestwood

    Thanks for interesting blog post. You guys are always provide information that it makes it impossible not to want to buy your next product ;I cant wait to see what you guys come up with based on all your research and data that you gather.

  • viviennewestwood

    This is some great news. With a few new sites going live this is excellent information to use to make a plan of action. I just had to drop which you line to mention that i thoroughly enjoyed this post from yours, I get subscribed for a RSS feeds and have skimmed a few of your articles or blog posts before but this one really were standing out in my situation. Youll appreciate your appreciation. Together with keep operating a blog. Thanks again guys for sharing such excellent information!

  • viviennewestwood

    Interesting post and view, hope to hear more what the future holds THANKS Great post. Probably saved thousands of hours between everybody here. For me,this clearly is a heads up on which methods to focus on to maximise my online success . Ill start concentrating on your other articles instead. Really great advice. Thanks for sharing.

  • tresorparis

    Interesting post and view, hope to hear more what the future holds THANKS Great post. Probably saved thousands of hours between everybody here. For me,this clearly is a heads up on which methods to focus on to maximise my online success . Ill start concentrating on your other articles instead. Really great advice. Thanks for sharing.

  • tresorparis

    Thanks for interesting blog post. You guys are always provide information that it makes it impossible not to want to buy your next product ;I cant wait to see what you guys come up with based on all your research and data that you gather.

  • tresorparis

    Great article. I cant wait to hear more about your research tool. If it is as good as your other products, then you will have another winner. Your article pretty much summed up what I have been seeing too. Great to see some hard data.

  • edd chucky

    chuckster is and always has been a shallow contrarian

  • AmyCata

    Mr. T. March 30, 2011 I have some stories about Match. One woman weinkd at me, I wrote back, we went back and forth a few times, and she had a change of heart. I can accept that. Here’s where I saw the writing on the wall: Between me writing to her and her writing me back, there were times where she did NOT write, but was online now. She shouldn’t put all of her eggs into one basket of course, but that was very telling, and when she broke it off, it wasn’t shocking to me.Also, in a way, if I send a woman a wink or e-mail and she does the iggy as I prefer, I kind of wish she would block me from viewing her profile, because I send so many, I know that one of these days, I’m going to wink or e-mail a woman TWICE, and that’s going to freak her out.

  • facebook fan

    My brother recommended I would possibly like this web site. He used to be entirely right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t consider just how so much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

Page: 1 2
Add your comment
The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject - or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field.

When you click on the "Post Comment" button above to submit your comments, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to the Terms of Service. You can also read our Privacy Policy.

Latest Videos in Books

Advertisement

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP