Real Life Rock Top 10

Greil Life

Greil Marcus’s “Real Life Rock” column first appeared in New West magazine (later California), from 1978 to 1983. Each edition of the column ended with the “Real Life Rock Top 10”–simply Greil’s current Top 10 list. Subsequently, starting at the Village Voice in 1986, the “Real Life Rock” column mutated into “Real Life Rock Top 10,” which has since appeared in six different publications, including Barnes & Noble, where it currently runs. “Real Life Rock” and “Real Life Rock Top 10” columns will be listed here as they are posted on the main page.

To further enhance your “Real Life Rock” experience, check out the “Real Life Rock Sampler” at Grooveshark, a constantly-growing, randomly-ordered playlist of some of Greil’s picks.


Bonus Beat: Greil Marcus, in 1987, explains the “Real Life Rock Top 10” aesthetic and methodology.


Note: several RLR column dates, particularly during its Village Voice run, need to be confirmed.


NEW WEST/CALIFORNIA (1978-83)
1978/07/31 (Tom Robinson Band, “Rivers of Babylon,” Elvis Costello…)
1978/08/28 (Spitballs, Gino Washington, Bruce Springsteen…)
1978/10/23 (Devo, Clyde McPhatter)
1979/01/15 (Nick Lowe + Best of ’78)
1979/03/12 (Carlene Carter, Elvis Presley/Costello…)
1979/05/07 (Jonathan Richman, Sex Pistols, Sonny Boy Williamson)
1979/06/04 (Ramones, Boston, Mike Curb))
1979/07/30 (Roches, the Knack)
1980/06/30 (The Harder They Come…)
1980/07/28 (Roxy Music, the Jamies)
1980/08 (Young Marble Giants, Brains, Ska revival…)
1980/09 (Van Morrison, Captain Beefheart)
1981/07 (Kim Carnes, Funky 4+1, Bow Wow Wow…)
1981/12 (Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono, Albert Goldman…)
1981/12 (Surf rock, Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues…)
1982/02 (New Order, StreetArt, Pennies From Heaven…)
1982/09 (Darlene Love, Gang of Four, Y Pants…)
1982/11 (Nebraska, Ronald Reagan…)
1983/01 (Best of ’82: “Temptation,” “The Message,” Hellfire…)

Special thanks to Erik Nelson


VILLAGE VOICE (1986-90)
1986/02/18 (Reducers, Billy Ocean, Godzilla…)
1986/03/18 (Stan Ridgway, Margaret Atwood, E.L.O…)
1986/04/18 (Sonic Youth, Solomon Burke, Hüsker Dü…)
1986/08 (“Louie, Louie,” Black Uhuru, Teena Marie…)
1986/07/15 (Mekons, Madonna, Joseph Ellroy…)
1986/10 (David & David, Cameo, Stacey Q…)
1986/11 (Art Bears, Pussy Galore, Jacques Attali…)
1986/11 (Steve Albini, Jamie Reid, Neil Young…)
1986/12 (Wire, Coolies, Alphaville…)
1987/01 (John Lennon, New Order, Coolies…)
1987/02/10 (Minutemen, Pauline Murray, Malcolm Bradbury…)
1987/06/02 (Suzanne Vega, The Mad Peck, Age of Chance…)
1987/06 (Michelob, Culturecide, Fleetwood Mac…)
1987/08 (Fastbacks, Cruzados, Rosanne Cash…)
1987/09 (Big Black, Pussy Galore, Chuck Berry…)
1988/03/01 (Roy Orbison, Terence Trent D’Arby, Swellsville)
1988/04 (Clash, Forgotten Rebels, Jackie Collins…)
1988/05 (Primitives, Del-Lords, Eric Clapton…)
1988/05 (Tanita Tikaram, Guadalcanal Diary, James Brown…)
1988/08 (Primitives, John Mellencamp, Pat Benatar…)
1988/09 (Prince, Brian Wilson…)
1988/12 (Cowboy Junkies, Johnny Winter, the Jewels…)
1989/03 (Elvis Costello, Ciccone Youth, Drifters…)
1989/04 (Fine Young Cannibals, Elvis Costello, Tone-Loc…)
1989/05 (Madonna, Chet Baker, Pauline Kael…)
1989/07/18 (Pulnoc, James Jamerson, Charles Burns…)
1989/09 (Don Henley, Don Henley, Don Henley…)
1989/11 (Elvis Costello, Public Enemy, Howard Hampton…)
1989/11 (Natural Spiritual Orchestra, Link Wray, Louise Brooks…)
1990/01/09 (Alison Krauss, Dave Marsh, MTV…)
1990/02 (Howlin’ Wolf, Mekons, Vulgar Boatmen…)
1990/04 (Pete Seeger, Midnight Oil, Vaclav Havel…)
1990/05 (Babes in Toyland, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Eddie Money…)
1990/06 (Madonna, Wedding Present, Fleetwood Mac…)


ARTFORUM (1990-97)
1990/12 (Neil Young, Memphis Slim, Simon Reynolds…)
1992/07 (Heavens to Betsy, Walter Mosley, Tori Amos…)
1993/04 (Popinjays, Troggs, Billy Ray Cyrus…)
1993/06 (Andre Braugher, Rosanne Cash, Basehead…)


SALON (1999-2003)
1999/11/01 (Sally Timms, Pet Shop Boys, Dr. Dre…)
1999/11/16 (Mark Sinker, Andy Warhol, Travis Bickle…)
2000/05/15 (Richard Belzer, Wire, Holy Childhood…)
2000/10/02 (Bob Dylan, Waco Brothers, Nurse Betty…)
2001/09/04 (Erase Errata, Heavenly, Madonna…)
2001/09/17 (George ‘Shadow’ Morton, George W. Bush, Ghost World…)
2002/07/23 (Jill Olson, Counting Crows, Katharine Lee Bates…)
2002/06/24 (Chumbawumba, Randy Newman, Charley Patton…)
2002/07/08 (Robert Plant, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Percival Everett…)
2002/08/05 (Son House, Comet Gain, X-Ray Spex…)
2002/08/26 (Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, Emry Arthur…)
2002/09/09 (Sleater-Kinney, Robert Greenfield, Peter Wolf…)
2002/09/23 (Warren Zevon, Slobberbone, Sarah Vowell…)
2002/10/21 (Mekons, Great Crusades…)
2002/11/04 (Ryan/Bryan Adams, Don Delillo, Sam McGee…)
2002/11/18 (Eminem, Body Snatchers, Northern State…)
2003/01/02 (Mendoza Line, Homer Quincy Smith, New Order…)
2003/01/20 (Mia Zapata, Donnas, Baz Luhrmann…)
2003/02/03 (White Stripes, Ann Charters, Rolling Stones…)


CITY PAGES (2003-04)
2003/04/09 (A.R.E. Weapons, Victoria’s Secret, Dixie Chicks…)
2003/04/14 (New Pornographers, Be Good Tanyas, White Stripes…)
2003/04/23 (Don DeLillo, Madonna, Luc Sante…)
2003/07/16 (Avengers, Patti Smith, DJ Shadow…)
2003/08/06 (Hem, Richard Powers, Masked and Anonymous…)
2003/08/27 (Christian Marclay, Lady J., Sinead O’Connor…)
2003/11/12 (Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride, School of Rock…)
2004/01/14 (Mr. Airplane Man, Kill Bill, Hootie & the Blowfish…)
2004/02/11 (Electralane, David Denby, Henry Flynt…)
2004/03/03 (Robert McNamara, Pink Nasty, The Dreamers…)
2004/03/24 (Mendoza Line, Sons and Daughters, Lou Reed…)
2004/04/14 (TV on the Radio, Tom Perrotta, the Doors…)
2004/05/05 (Eagles of Death Metal, Mendoza Line, Jan Berry…)


THE BELIEVER (2008-2014)
2009/01 (Fiery Furnaces, Doors, K.T. Tunstall…)
2009/02 (Sex Pistols, Tom Perrotta, TV Smith…)
2009/03 (Cat Power, Beyoncé, Stanley Booth…)
2009/05 (Caroline Weeks, the Drones, Sometymes Why…)
2009/08 (Adam Lambert, Fiery Furnaces, Robert Cantwell…)
2009/10 (the Ettes, Sonic Youth, Michael Jackson…)
2010/01 (Gossip, Dion, Raincoats…)
2010/03 (Yellow Fever, Pirate Radio, Georgia O’Keeffe…)
2010/07 (10 tracks from Allen Lowe’s Really the Blues? compilation)
2011/05 (PJ Harvey, Vladimir Putin, Gang of Four…)
2011/06 (Jay-Z, Dana Spiotta, Mildred Pierce…)
2011/07 (Robert Johnson, Hellhound Ale, Bing Crosby…)
2011/10 (Amy Winehouse, Shangri-Las, Mekons…)
2013/01 (Lesley Gore, Andrew ‘Loog’ Oldham, Corin Tucker…)
2013/06 (Kasey Musgraves, Phil Spector/Al Pacino, Blind Lemon Jefferson…)
2014/08 (Kim Gordon/Nirvana, Woods, Kronos Quartet…)


BARNES & NOBLE (2014-present)
B&N columns available here


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