For the past thirty‑five years, celebrated author Greil Marcus has applied his unmatched critical apparatus to everything from music, television, radio, and politics to overheard comments, advertisements, and happenstance street encounters—an eclectic collection of what he calls “everyday culture and found objects.” This book collects hundreds of items from the crisscrossing spectrum of culture and politics throughout the tumultuous past six years of American life.
[Marcus] dives in here, comes out there, and always brings with him the unexpected: ancient treasure in the form of a billboard, an ad in a regional newspaper, a song by a band you never heard of. Even better, he connects it all in a way that makes our world seem often odder, occasionally more sinister, and always more delightful than it did before ... Court cases, books and movies aside, Mr. Marcus returns always to music, especially the songs of rock ’n’ roll’s golden age as well as their offspring. His goal here is not only to remind us how good that music is but also how completely it permeates our culture. Much of what he notices seems intended to bring a wry smile to the reader’s face ... Reflections like this one make More Real Life Rock a one-of-a-kind guide to rock music’s resonance in every aspect of our lives ... I’ve long thought of Mr. Marcus as a writer who explores the other side of the moon that is America, not the sunlit half but the one where bats fly and owls hoot in the trees. He’s at his best when he pulls back the veil on what we thought we knew ... Mr. Marcus’s greater gift is his ability to make the kind of connection that puts us at the center of history’s web ... Together, Real Life Rock and More Real Life Rock present a mosaic of our world, one in which the tiles aren’t fixed. They pulse, they move, they disappear and return. It’s enough to make you crazy, and if you’ve seen the news recently, you know that America’s gaudy, thrilling, violent culture has had exactly that effect on people who can’t handle it. Sometimes I think only Greil Marcus can.
Even Marcus fans who have never read a single one of these columns will recognize some of the writer’s favorite topics from Dada to Dylan to punk to Randy Newman to the legend of Stagger Lee, all of which make multiple appearances through the book’s 500-plus pages. If that page count seems daunting, fear not. There isn’t an entry you’ll want to skip ... The early columns especially are filled with gems like these, though the book’s greatest joys come from progressing through the years and seeing old friends pop up from time to time.
Marcus isn’t overly political, but neither is he shy of excoriating Donald Trump, often in the words of others ... the author’s enthusiasms win out, whether for a Don DeLillo novel or a Henry Rollins live show ... A smart set of suggestions for further reading, viewing, and listening by a most trustworthy guide.