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Friday, July 02, 2010

Robert Chrisgau's last Consumer Guide. This day had to come-- I'm sure the job felt more and more like work all the time. It has to have been difficult to love music as much as Christgau obviously does, and yet never have time to listen to an old favorite. Part of the problem was surely that his sense of professionalism obliged him to listen to so much. Part of the problem was undoubtedly that so much of what he was obliged to listen to was so indifferent. I suspect also that he wearied of the capsule form, and wondered if perhaps he hadn't squandered his gifts by tossing off quips, while cats like Greil Marcus were writing things like Lipstick Traces.

I've followed Chrisgau
everywhere he's written: Creem, Newsday, the Voice.... The Venn Diagram of our tastes in music doesn't perfectly overlap, but I've never gone wrong with something he's recommended. Presumably he'll be writing longer stuff now. He's been producing essays for Barnes & Noble for the last two years. Maybe he'll stray from the rock'n'roll plantation. His story for the Newark Star-Ledger about the woman who starved herself to death on a macrobiotic diet (from 1965-- how the time does fly by!) is the only bit of straight journalism I think I've read of his, but it was a masterful piece of storytelling. I'm not sure I want a novel, but something with a narrative arc would be interesting.

In "High Fidelity" Rob makes a list of his top five dream jobs. They all involve discovering or producing musicians, not actually being a musician, and I'd have to say that this resonated with me-- my personal rock'n'roll fantasy has always been to be Dave Marsh or Robert Christgau, not Mick Jagger or Bob Dylan. It would have been great to have been a staff writer for Rolling Stone in 1968, or the Village Voice in 1977. In a way that impulse is what this site is all about, and in a way the stuff that I write and get paid for has been more influenced by the Dean of American Rock Critics than by anyone else I read. CG hasn't been as much fun since it moved to on-line only, but I'll miss it all the same.

| Comments:
Robert Christgau made me buy a lot of stuff that I thought was crap. His tastes and mine, especially as pertains to Jazz and World Music, as wildly divergent. But he also made me buy a lot of good stuff.

It began in 1977, when I first began making enough money to build a collection and became independent enough not to depend on what my friends were listening to. The Village Voice was my bible, the only source I had. Rolling Stone was untrustworthy even then, and generally stuck to the obvious releases.

I gave up on Christgau entirely when he went to the graphical icons instead of relying only on letter grades. But I'll miss knowing that he is guiding yet another neophyte out of the maze of 'officially endorsed and approved music'.

Sadly, it's pretty much down to AllMusic for reviews that you know aren't written by a guy in his mother's basement. They give 4 stars to anything that contains a chart hit and don't make it easy to discover the more obscure recordings.

All of Robert Christgau's published guides contained a forward that stated "Never again". I guess he's serious this time. Hope he has time to write a novel. There's a very interesting person concealed behind those 40+ years of record reviews.
 

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