What Why Who

GreilMarcus.net is a WordPress blog showcasing some of the archived writings of critic Greil Marcus, pulled from as many sources as possible (magazines, newspapers, liner notes, books, fanzines, websites, podcasts, etc.) and posted in a more or less random fashion. This blog was created by Scott Woods with Greil Marcus’s knowledge and assistance.

If you would like to share your feedback about the site, please contact admin@greilmarcus.net. Unwanted solicitations and press releases will not be forwarded or responded to.

Special thanks to Chris Bourke, Andrew Hamlin, Randy Laumann, Erik Nelson, and Derick Schilling for invaluable proofreading contributions and/or voluminous printed matter.

Thanks also to Phil Dellio, Dave Rubin, Devin McKinney, Robert Hull, Tom Hull, Ihsan Amanatullah, Ann Douglas, Michael Goldberg, David Lasky, Michaelangelo Matos, Perry Meisel, Vic Perry, Jeff Pike, Joy Press, Simon Reynolds, and of course Greil Marcus.

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21 thoughts on “What Why Who

  1. I am addicted to this wonderful site. Everyday I look forward to more hidden gems I forgot about or did not even know about. What a brilliant treasure grove!

  2. Listening to you on Bob Edwards, reminded me of the time when my friend said, “we got to see them all when they come to town”. “They are killing themselves, they won’t be around for long”. You have 10 years on me in age, this statement was made in the early 70’s after the deaths of Hendrix & Joplin. My friend that made it has been dead now for years from selfdestructive indujenses.

  3. Hi,
    I am wondering is there a way to contact Greil directly ?
    I have a project I think he would be quite interested in.

    Thank you,

  4. I just caught Greil’s excellent talk on “Last Kind Words Blues” by Geeshie Wiley at the AWP Conference in Minneapolis. Had to run soon afterward, but if I’d been able to stay would have asked Greil what he thinks of David Johansen’s cover (with the Harry Smiths on the Shaker CD) of the song, which seems very faithful in its details and essence. Wondering also in general, I guess, whether Greil has ever written about the two Johansen/Harry Smiths records.

  5. A silly, grandiloquent amateur musician who takes his own irrelevant work much too seriously, may ask himself how to get his unpromoted, unsollicited, unsigned album reviewed by Mr Marcus, and wind up here. Please give the poor bastard and his kind some sound advice to stick to their dayjobs. Thank you very much.

  6. I just want to congratulate Greil on his [imminent] birthday. We sell your books in Amsterdam, thanks for all your insight and wisdom. – A bookseller at the American Book Center in Amsterdam.

  7. I helped found the Velvet Illusions, whom you wrote some drivel about. You seem to be among the gullible and lazy who took it for the truth when you heard that Patty Hearst’s boyfriend, Steven Weed, had something to do with our band. Our Steve Weed, from Yakima, WA, was about 16 years old when Ms. Hearst was kidnapped. Absolutely no connection. But thanks for helping us sell a few more records.

    By the way, judging by how much we are collected/played/written about world-wide, I would say we WERE cool and we ARE cool. We surviving members are still playing. Still creating. Still making fans. Check out the FB Page, “Velvet Illusions Fans”.

  8. I decided yesterday that it was time for the 5th or 6th re-read of one of my all-time favourite books, Norma Jean the Termite Queen I was delighted to discover GM’s wonderful review, and this site, which will no doubt give me much reading pleasure in the weeks to come! Thanks!

  9. Nice to hear from you, thanks for the comment. I loved Greil’s review of this (a book, I confess, I’d never heard of before), enough so that it makes me want to read it, but it seems quite hard to find. I will keep searching.

  10. Several copies of Norma Jean (including the original 1976 Bantam paperback from the review, and a 1983 reissue) are available for a few bucks through Advanced Book Exchange, a worldwide network of used-book sellers: abebooks.com.

  11. hi. was reading the book *altamont* by joel selvin and greil’s name came up. made me think back. in 1981 greil reviewed my band the adolescents in *new west* magazine. titled *us & them* it has remained my favorite written piece about my music. i was a child when it was published. not only did it legitimize my band in the eyes of my grandparents, it also inspired me to read more books about music and influenced my decision to further my education. please be so kind as to share this if possible. i am indebted and grateful. i went into education after receiving my master’s degree. the review opened my eyes to the endless possibilities available when merging world literature with rock and roll.

    • hey tony. i randomly answered a semi-random Reddit r/punk request with a half-considered short-essay (really short) on the “blue album” as the go-to album for his request. (with only “60 replies” it was a safe guess that no LA punk except for dopey Damaged sung by hammerin’ hank-who-ruined-black-flag…no wait, it wasn’t. some outside-doofus cited “White Minority” oh jeez). only later (same day) after i’d finished/posted/re-edited the post, did i think to google (for the same of the magazine that doofus-uncle-greil’s sometimes-not-clueless (as long as he wasn’t babbling for any 24-consecutive-hours about the Band or bob dylan or bob dylan’s band (spoiler alert: they all sucked. all of them. in the 60’s, i mean. well ok, mostly the band that named themselves “the band.” but that’s just me. i like music to have “beats,” for toe tapping or later whatever those NWOBHM people did at motorhead/girlschool gigs.
      // google didn’t cough up a “first link” directly to uncle greil talking about movies and literature and “the other in american culture” but it threw this up. which i see has both the “name of the article” and the “name of the magazine,” wow, good. i can now re-re-edit that post before enraged post-1982-first-album bad religion fans pile on with “downvotes” (jk. Hell Be Any Worse is really almost-never-heard in the greater modern day punk rock world, apparently) because i won’t “sell them my thrift store copy of Into the Unknown” (first pressing).

      upside/downside of that post (besides exercise in “trainspotting” or “finding the old ‘rabbit trails’,” always welcome) — i now need to listen to the Reagan’s In album (cited as the lesser-companion to LA/OC’s ‘two early-hardcore’ “15 minute album” prototypes). it’s only 14 minutes long, ok. and my “memory dept” says that duh, they had a good drummer. (as cited in the post). i saw chet (guitar) , in the brief summer-1980 red cross 4-piece (dez and chet, or if alphabetically sorted, chet and dez on guitar) (that was the gig where keith “cashed in a big favor in reverse” by covering the empty lead-singer slot in black flag for that gig.

      • (the reddit r/punk thread’s starter-post) https://www.reddit.com/r/punk/comments/uivkl7/good_punk_songs_based_around_a_feeling_of_being/
        they wanted recommendations on “good punk songs based around a feelng of being an outcast.” well, imho (1) it has to be ‘organic,’ not one of those thought out or labored things (lyrically), so duh.

        (just remembered: where would i have FILED a orig-copy of those two pages greil wrote (three? two and a half maybe) pages in the first place? oh oh, right. inside the ALBUM i’m referring this guy to. jeez i need more imaginary unpaid interns. this “life without any interns or even a personal assistant” just has an efficiency-rating of worse than zero sometimes. “you’re not even a movie star, sir. why do you think you have a personal assistant or interns to make fun of?” YOU’RE MISSING THE POINT, CHUCK. yeah never mind, whatev.
        (checking). (of course it was there. the original title/header on it was CRIMES AGAINST NATURE. proving once again that the main reason record albums eventually trumped dumb 90’s CDs, was you could stuff all sorts of things inside their album jackets)
        (marcus aka uncle greil cites: Twain, henry james (??), barbarians at the gates, the “strong feeling” of 30’s blues singers where “any sign of rage (against anyone, including their wives) — was a sign a freedom” ohh that’s good. greil’s main conclusion (buried halfway in) is: “rock and roll based in strong feeling works” (i would re-word that personally, to “killer guitar playing plus a good drummer, executing good songs” but i don’t know where/which verb would complete that musical checklist. (“good lyrics”? no, that’s what singers do, it’s an add-on. Deep Purple Mk2 survived whatever gibberish ian gillan was using for words. or did roger glover pen the words to his own “chords and stuff”? Space Truckin’ is pretty darn good — ehhhhh i bet “written by deep purple.” (checking. ehhh, yep, no individual credits) . `

  12. Greil, long time follower. For years I have wondered what the meaning of the lyrics are to Tears of Rage and listening to Big Pink this morning I decided to take action. Maybe you know? Especially the first stanza. Any guidance appreciated. You (or anyone with knowledge)
    can contact me at jkragen@prodigy.net. Thanks. Jules

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