Robert Christgau

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Robert Christgau
Robert Christgau 02.jpg
Christgau at the 2010 Pop Conference in Seattle
BornRobert Thomas Christgau
(1942-04-18) April 18, 1942 (age 76)
New York City, U.S.
Occupation
  • Music critic
  • essayist
  • journalist
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Period1967–present
Spouse
Carola Dibbell (m. 1974)
Children1
Website
robertchristgau.com

Robert Thomas Christgau ( /ˈkrɪstɡ/ ; born April 18, 1942) is an American essayist and music journalist. One of the earliest professional rock critics, he spent 37 years as the chief music critic and senior editor for The Village Voice , during which time he created and oversaw the annual Pazz & Jop poll. He has also covered popular music for Esquire , Creem , Newsday , Playboy , Rolling Stone , Billboard , NPR, Blender , and MSN Music , and was a visiting arts teacher at New York University. [1]

<i>The Village Voice</i> American weekly newspaper

The Village Voice was an American news and culture paper, known for being the country's first alternative newsweekly. Founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, John Wilcock, and Norman Mailer, the Voice began as a platform for the creative community of New York City. It still is kept alive online.

Pazz & Jop annual music poll

Pazz & Jop is an annual poll of musical releases compiled by American newspaper The Village Voice, publishing lists of the year's top releases for 1971 and each year between 1974 and 2017. The polls are tabulated from the submitted year-end top 10 lists of hundreds of music critics. It was named in acknowledgement of the defunct magazine Jazz & Pop, and adopted the ratings system used in that publication's annual critics poll.

<i>Esquire</i> (magazine) American mens magazine

Esquire is an American men's magazine, published by the Hearst Corporation in the United States. Founded in 1933, it flourished during the Great Depression under the guidance of founders Arnold Gingrich, David A. Smart and Henry L. Jackson.

Contents

Christgau is known for his terse, letter-graded capsule album reviews, first published in his "Consumer Guide" columns during his tenure at The Village Voice from 1969 to 2006. He has authored three books based on those columns, including Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981) and Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990), along with two collections of essays. [1] He continued writing reviews in this format for MSN Music, Cuepoint , and Noisey Vice 's music section—where they are currently published in his "Expert Witness" column. [2]

A capsule review is a form of criticism, usually associated with journalism, that offers a relatively short critique of a specified artistic work. Capsule reviews generally appear in publications like newspapers and magazines, and can range anywhere from just a few sentences up to around 300 words.

<i>Christgaus Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies</i>

Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies is a music reference book authored by American music journalist and essayist Robert Christgau. It was first published in October 1981 by Ticknor & Fields.

<i>Christgaus Record Guide: The 80s</i>

Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s is a music reference book authored by American music journalist and essayist Robert Christgau. It was published in October 1990 by Pantheon Books as a follow-up to Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981).

Early life

Christgau was born in Greenwich Village [3] and grew up in Queens, [4] the son of a fireman. [5] He has said he became a rock and roll fan when disc jockey Alan Freed moved to the city in 1954. [6] After attending a public school in New York City, [5] he left New York for four years to attend Dartmouth College, graduating in 1962 with a B.A. in English. While at college his musical interests turned to jazz, but he quickly returned to rock after moving back to New York. [7] Christgau has said that Miles Davis' 1960 album Sketches of Spain initiated in him "one phase of the disillusionment with jazz that resulted in my return to rock and roll". [8] He was deeply influenced by New Journalism writers such as Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe. "My ambitions when I went into journalism were always, to an extent, literary", Christgau later said. [9]

Greenwich Village Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

Greenwich Village often referred to by locals as simply "the Village", is a neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan, New York City. In the 20th century, Greenwich Village was known as an artists' haven, the Bohemian capital, the cradle of the modern LGBT movement, and the East Coast birthplace of both the Beat and '60s counterculture movements. Groenwijck, one of the Dutch names for the village, was Anglicized to Greenwich. Two of New York's private colleges, New York University (NYU) and the New School, are located in Greenwich Village.

Queens Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

Queens is the easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. It is the largest borough geographically and is adjacent to the borough of Brooklyn at the southwestern end of Long Island. To its east is Nassau County. Queens also shares water borders with the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. Coterminous with Queens County since 1899, the borough of Queens is the second largest in population, with an estimated 2,358,582 residents in 2017, approximately 48% of them foreign-born. Queens County also is the second most populous county in the U.S. state of New York, behind Brooklyn, which is coterminous with Kings County. Queens is the fourth most densely populated county among New York City's boroughs, as well as in the United States. If each of New York City's boroughs were an independent city, Queens would be the nation's fourth most populous, after Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn. Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.

Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues, along with country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.

Career

"I am interested in those places where popular culture and avant-garde culture intersect. As a critic, I want to achieve a new understanding of culture in both its aesthetic and political aspects; as a journalist, I want to suggest whatever I figure out to an audience in an entertaining and provocative way."

—Christgau, 1977 [10]

Christgau initially wrote short stories, before giving up fiction in 1964 to become a sportswriter, and later, a police reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger . [11] He became a freelance writer after a story he wrote about the death of a woman in New Jersey was published by New York magazine.[ citation needed ] Christgau was among the first dedicated rock critics. [12] He was asked to take over the dormant music column at Esquire , which he began writing in June 1967. [13] After Esquire discontinued the column, Christgau moved to The Village Voice in 1969, and he also worked as a college professor.

<i>The Star-Ledger</i> newspaper

The Star-Ledger is the largest circulated newspaper in the U.S. state of New Jersey and is based in Newark. It is a sister paper to The Jersey Journal of Jersey City, The Times of Trenton and the Staten Island Advance, all of which are owned by Advance Publications.

New Jersey State of the United States of America

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the Northeastern United States. It is a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, particularly along the extent of the length of New York City on its western edge; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, and the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states; its biggest city is Newark. New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia and was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.

<i>New York</i> (magazine) American magazine on life, culture, politics, and style, focusing on New York City

New York is an American biweekly magazine concerned with life, culture, politics, and style generally, and with a particular emphasis on New York City. Founded by Milton Glaser and Clay Felker in 1968 as a competitor to The New Yorker, it was brasher and less polite, and established itself as a cradle of New Journalism. Over time, it became more national in scope, publishing many noteworthy articles on American culture by writers such as Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Nora Ephron, John Heilemann, Frank Rich, and Rebecca Traister.

From early on in his emergence as a critic, Christgau was conscious of his lack of formal knowledge of music. In a 1968 piece he commented:

I don't know anything about music, which ought to be a damaging admission but isn't ... The fact is that pop writers in general shy away from such arcana as key signature and beats to the measure ... I used to confide my worries about this to friends in the record industry, who reassured me. They didn't know anything about music either. The technical stuff didn't matter, I was told. You just gotta dig it. [14]

In early 1972, he accepted a full-time job as music critic for Newsday . Christgau returned to the Village Voice in 1974 as music editor. He remained there until August 2006, when he was fired shortly after the paper's acquisition by New Times Media. [15] Two months later, Christgau became a contributing editor at Rolling Stone (which first published his review of Moby Grape's Wow in 1968). [16] Late in 2007, Christgau was fired by Rolling Stone, [17] although he continued to work for the magazine for another three months. Starting with the March 2008 issue, he joined Blender , where he was listed as "senior critic" for three issues and then "contributing editor". [18] Christgau had been a regular contributor to Blender before he joined Rolling Stone. He continued to write for Blender until the magazine ceased publication in March 2009.

<i>Newsday</i> American daily newspaper

Newsday is an American daily newspaper that primarily serves Nassau and Suffolk counties and the New York City borough of Queens on Long Island, although it is also sold throughout the New York metropolitan area. As of 2009, its weekday circulation of 377,500 was the 11th-highest in the United States, and the highest among suburban newspapers. In 2012, Newsday expanded to include Rockland and Westchester county news on its website. As of January 2014, Newsday's total average circulation was 437,000 on weekdays, 434,000 on Saturdays and 495,000 on Sundays.

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content.

Moby Grape American rock group from the 1960s

Moby Grape is an American rock group from the 1960s, known for having all five members contribute to singing and songwriting, which collectively merged elements of folk music, blues, country, and jazz with rock and psychedelic music. They were one of the few groups of which all members were lead vocalists. The group continues to perform occasionally.

In 1987, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the field of "Folklore and Popular Culture" to study the history of popular music. [19] [20]

Christgau has also written frequently for Playboy , Spin , and Creem . He appears in the 2011 rockumentary Color Me Obsessed , about the Replacements. [21]

He previously taught during the formative years of the California Institute of the Arts. As of 2007, he was also an adjunct professor in the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University. [22]

In August 2013, Christgau revealed in an article written for Barnes & Noble's website that he is writing a memoir. [23] On July 15, 2014, Christgau debuted a monthly column on Billboard 's website. [24]

"Consumer Guide" and "Expert Witness" columns

Christgau is perhaps best known for his "Consumer Guide" columns, which have been published more-or-less monthly since July 10, 1969, in the Village Voice, [25] as well as a brief period in Creem . [26] In its original format, the "Consumer Guide" consisted of 18 to 20 single-paragraph album reviews, each of which was given a letter grade ranging from A+ to E−.[ citation needed ] These reviews were later collected, expanded, and extensively revised in a three-volume book series, the first of which was published in 1981 as Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies ; it was followed by Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990) and Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s (2000). [25]

In his original grading system from 1969 to 1990, albums were given a grade ranging from A+ to E-. Under this system, Christgau generally considered a B+ or higher to be a personal recommendation. [27] He noted that in practice, grades below a C- were rare. [28] In 1990, Christgau changed the format of the "Consumer Guide" to focus more on the albums he liked. [25] B+ records that Christgau deemed "unworthy of a full review" were mostly given brief comments and star marks ranging from three down to one, denoting an honorable mention", [29] records which Christgau believed may be of interest to their own target audience. [30] Lesser albums were filed under categories such as "Neither" (which may impress at first with "coherent craft or an arresting track or two", before failing to make an impression again) [30] and "Duds" (which indicated bad records and were listed without further comment). Christgau did give full reviews and traditional grades to records he pans in an annual November "Turkey Shoot" column in The Village Voice, until he left the newspaper in 2006. [25]

In 2001, robertchristgau.com—an online archive of Christgau's "Consumer Guide" reviews and other writings from his career—was set up as a co-operative project between Christgau and longtime friend Tom Hull; the two had met in 1975 shortly after Hull queried Christgau as The Village Voice's regional editor for St. Louis. The website was created after the September 11, 2001 attacks when Hull was stuck in New York while visiting from his native Wichita. While Christgau spent many nights preparing past Village Voice writings for the website, by 2002 much of the older "Consumer Guide" columns had been inputted by Hull and a small coterie of fans. According to Christgau, Hull is "a computer genius as well as an excellent and very knowledgeable music critic, but he’d never done much web site work. The design of the web site, especially its high searchability and small interest in graphics, are his idea of what a useful music site should be". [31]

In December 2006, Christgau began writing his "Consumer Guide" columns for MSN Music , initially appearing every other month, before switching to a monthly schedule in June 2007. On July 1, 2010, he announced in the introduction to his "Consumer Guide" column that the July 2010 installment would be his last on MSN. [32]

On November 22, 2010, Christgau launched a blog on MSN, called "Expert Witness", which featured reviews only of albums that he had graded B+ or higher, since those albums "are the gut and backbone of my musical pleasure"; the writing of reviews for which are "so rewarding psychologically that I'm happy to do it at blogger's rates". [33] On September 20, 2013, Christgau announced in the comments section that Expert Witness would cease to be published by October 1, 2013, writing, "As I understand it, Microsoft is shutting down the entire MSN freelance arts operation at that time ..." [34] On September 10, 2014, he debuted a new version of Expert Witness on Cuepoint , an online music magazine published on the blogging platform Medium. [35] In August 2015, the Expert Witness column was relocated to Noisey . [2]

Pazz & Jop

Between 1968 and 1970, Christgau submitted ballots in Jazz & Pop magazine's annual critics' poll. He selected Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding (released late in 1967), The Who's Tommy (1969), and Randy Newman's 12 Songs (1970) as the best pop albums of their respective years, and Miles Davis's Bitches Brew (1970) as the best jazz album of its year. [36] [37] [38] Jazz & Pop discontinued publication in 1971. [39]

In 1971, Christgau inaugurated the annual Pazz & Jop music poll, named in tribute to Jazz & Pop. The poll surveyed music critics on their favorite releases of the year. The poll results were published in the Village Voice every February after compiling "top ten" lists submitted by music critics across the nation. Throughout Christgau's career at the Voice, every poll was accompanied by a lengthy Christgau essay analyzing the results and pondering the year's overall musical output. The Voice continued the feature after Christgau's dismissal. Although he no longer oversaw the poll, Christgau continued to vote and, since the 2015 poll, also contributed essays to the results. [40] [41]

"Dean's Lists"

Each year that Pazz & Jop has run, Christgau has created a personal list of his favorite releases called the "Dean's List". Only his top ten count toward his vote in the poll, but his full lists of favorites usually numbered far more than that. These lists—or at least Christgau's top tens—were typically published in The Village Voice along with the Pazz & Jop results. After Christgau was dismissed from the Voice, he continued publishing his annual lists on his own website and at the Barnes & Noble Review .

While Pazz & Jop's aggregate critics' poll are its main draw, Christgau's Deans' Lists are noteworthy in their own right. Henry Hauser from Consequence of Sound said Christgau's "annual 'Pazz & Jop' poll has been a bona fide American institution. For music writers, his year-end essays and extensive 'Dean's List' are like watching the big ball drop in Times Square." [42]

The following are Christgau's choices for the number-one album of the year, including the point score he assigned for the poll. Pazz & Jop's rules provided that each item in a top ten could be allotted between 5 and 30 points, with all ten items totaling 100, allowing critics to weight certain albums more heavily if they chose to do so. In some years, Christgau often gave an equal number of points to his first- and second-ranked albums, but they were nevertheless ranked as first and second, not as a tie for first; this list collects only his number-one picks.

YearArtistAlbumPointsRef.
1971 Joy of Cooking Joy of Cooking 24 [43]
1974 Steely Dan Pretzel Logic 21 [44]
1975 Bob Dylan and the Band The Basement Tapes 24 [45]
1976 Michael Hurley , The Unholy Modal Rounders, Jeffrey Frederick & the Clamtones Have Moicy! 15 [46]
1977 Television Marquee Moon 13 [47]
1978 Wire Pink Flag 13 [48]
1979 The Clash The Clash 18 [49]
1980 The Clash London Calling 25 [50]
1981 Various artists (Sugar Hill Records)Greatest Rap Hits Vol. 2 [label compilation]19 [51]
1982 Ornette Coleman Of Human Feelings 16 [52]
1983 James Blood Ulmer Odyssey 18 [53]
1984 Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. 17 [54]
1985 The Mekons Fear and Whiskey 16 [55]
1986 Various artists The Indestructible Beat of Soweto 18 [56]
1987 Sonny Rollins G-Man 16 [57]
1988 Franco and Rochereau Omona Wapi 16 [58]
1989 Půlnoc Live at P.S. 122 [bootleg recording]17 [59]
1990 LL Cool J Mama Said Knock You Out 22 [60]
1991 Various artistsGuitar Paradise of East Africa24 [61]
1992 Mzwakhe Mbuli Resistance Is Defence18 [62]
1993 Liz Phair Exile in Guyville 13 [63]
1994 Latin Playboys Latin Playboys 14 [64]
1995 Tricky Maxinquaye 17 [65]
1996 DJ Shadow Endtroducing..... 19 [66]
1997 Arto Lindsay Mundo Civilizado 15 [67]
1998 Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road 23 [68]
1999 The Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs 16 [69]
2000 Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP 16 [70]
2001 Bob Dylan "Love and Theft" 20 [71]
2002 The Mekons OOOH!14 [72]
2003 King Sunny Adé The Best of the Classic Years20 [73]
2004 Brian Wilson Brian Wilson Presents Smile 22 [74]
2005 Kanye West Late Registration 16 [75]
2006 New York Dolls One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This 17 [76]
2007 M.I.A. Kala N/A [77]
2008 Franco Francophonic18 [78]
2009 Brad Paisley American Saturday Night 17 [79]
2010 The Roots How I Got Over 16 [80]
2011 Das Racist Relax 12 [81]
2012 Neil Young and Crazy Horse Americana 15 [82]
2013 Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City 17 [83]
2014 Wussy Attica! 17 [84]
2015 Laurie Anderson Heart of a Dog 25 [85]
2016 A Tribe Called Quest We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service 19 [86]
2017 Randy Newman Dark Matter 25 [87]

Style and impact

No one in this time and place has the time to sit and listen uninterrupted for sixty minutes to anybody's music. I think Robert Christgau is the last record reviewer on earth who listens to eight records a day twice before giving his opinion on it ... Christgau is the last true-blue record critic on earth. He gave us an A-plus. That’s pretty much who I make my records for. He's like the last of that whole Lester Bangs generation of record reviewers, and I still heed his words. He gets my vision, and I’m cool with that. But half these people, they read Pitchfork , and they base half their opinion and quotes on that. [88]

Questlove, 2008

"Christgau's blurbs", writes Slate music critic Jody Rosen, "are like no one else's—dense with ideas and allusions, first-person confessions and invective, highbrow references and slang". [15] Rosen describes Christgau's writing as "often maddening, always thought-provoking ... With Pauline Kael, Christgau is arguably one of the two most important American mass-culture critics of the second half of the 20th century. ... All rock critics working today, at least the ones who want to do more than rewrite PR copy, are in some sense Christgauians." [15] Spin magazine wrote in 2015, "You probably wouldn't be reading this publication if Robert Christgau didn’t largely invent rock criticism as we know it." [89]

Douglas Wolk said the earliest "Consumer Guide" columns were generally brief and detailed, but "within a few years, though, he developed his particular gift for 'power, wit and economy,' a phrase he used to describe the Ramones in a dead-on 37-word review of Leave Home ." In his opinion, the "Consumer Guide" reviews were "an enormous pleasure to read slowly, as writing, even if you have no particular interest in pop music. And if you do happen to have more than a little interest in pop music, they're a treasure." Fans of Christgau's "Consumer Guide" like to share lines from their favorite reviews, Wolk writes, citing "Sting wears his sexual resentment on his chord changes like a closet 'American Woman' fan" (from Christgau's review of the 1983 Police album Synchronicity ); "Calling Neil Tennant a bored wimp is like accusing Jackson Pollock of making a mess" (reviewing the 1987 Pet Shop Boys album Actually ); and "Mick Jagger should fold up his penis and go home" (in a review of Prince's 1980 album Dirty Mind ). [25]

In 1978, Lou Reed recorded a tirade against Christgau and his column on the 1978 live album, Take No Prisoners : "Critics. What does Robert Christgau do in bed? I mean, is he a toe fucker? Man, anal retentive, A Consumer's Guide to Rock, what a moron: 'A Study' by, y'know, Robert Christgau. Nice little boxes: B-PLUS. Can you imagine working for a fucking year, and you get a B+ from some asshole in The Village Voice?" [90] Christgau rated the album C+ and wrote in his review, "I thank Lou for pronouncing my name right." [91] In December 1980, Christgau provoked angry responses from Voice readers when his column approvingly quoted his wife Carola Dibbell's reaction to the murder of John Lennon: "Why is it always Bobby Kennedy or John Lennon? Why isn't it Richard Nixon or Paul McCartney?" [92] Similar criticism came from Sonic Youth in their song "Kill Yr Idols". Christgau responded by saying "Idolization is for rock stars, even rock stars manqué like these impotent bohos—critics just want a little respect. So if it's not too hypersensitive of me, I wasn't flattered to hear my name pronounced right, not on this particular title track." [93]

Tastes and prejudices

Christgau has named Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, and the New York Dolls as his top five artists of all time. [94] In a 1998 obituary, he called Frank Sinatra "the greatest singer of the 20th century". [95] He considers Billie Holiday "probably my favorite singer". [96] In his 2000 Consumer Guide book, Christgau said his favorite rock album was either The Clash (1977) or New York Dolls (1973), while his favorite record in general was Monk's 1958 Misterioso . [97] In July 2013, during an interview with Esquire magazine's Peter Gerstenzang, Christgau criticized the voters at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, saying "they're pretty stupid" for not voting in the New York Dolls. [98] When asked about Beatles albums, he said he most often listens to The Beatles' Second Album —which he purchased in 1965—and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band . [99]

Christgau readily admits to having prejudices and generally disliking genres such as heavy metal, salsa, dance, [94] art rock, progressive rock, bluegrass, gospel, Irish folk, jazz fusion, and classical music. [31] "I admire metal's integrity, brutality, and obsessiveness", Christgau wrote in 1986, "but I can't stand its delusions of grandeur, the way it apes and misapprehends reactionary notions of nobility". [100] Christgau said in 2018 that he rarely writes about jazz as it is "hard" to write about in an "impressionistic way", that he is "not at all well-schooled in the jazz albums of the '50s and '60s", and that has the neither the "language nor the frame of reference to write readily about them"; even while critiquing jazz artists like Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and Sonny Rollins, he said "finding the words involves either considerable effort or a stroke of luck." [96] Christgau has also admitted to disliking the records of Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone, noting that the latter's classical background, "default gravity and depressive tendencies are qualities I'm seldom attracted to in any kind of art." [96]

Christgau has said he is not "encyclopedic" about popular music; Wolk wrote that "there are not a lot of white guys in their 60s waving the flag for Lil Wayne's Da Drought 3 , especially not in the same column as they wave the flag for a Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard/Ray Price trio album, an anthology of new Chinese pop, Vampire Weekend, and Wussy (who? Well, if Christgau gave 'em an A, maybe you'd best find out)." [25]

"Dean of American rock critics"

Christgau has been widely known as the "Dean of American rock critics", [101] a designation he originally gave to himself while slightly drunk at a press event for the 5th Dimension in the early 1970s. [31] According to Rosen, "Christgau was in his late 20s at the time—not exactly an éminence grise—so maybe it was the booze talking, or maybe he was just a very arrogant young man. In any case, as the years passed, the quip became a fact." [15] When asked about it years later, Christgau said the title "seemed to push people's buttons, so I stuck with it. There's obviously no official hierarchy within rock criticism—only real academies can do that. But if you mean to ask whether I think some rock critics are better than others, you're damn straight I do. Don't you?" [31] "For a long time he’s been called the 'dean of American rock critics'", wrote New York Times literary critic Dwight Garner in 2015. "It's a line that started out as an offhanded joke. These days, few dispute it." [102]

Personal life

Christgau married fellow critic and writer Carola Dibbell in 1974; [94] they have an adopted daughter, Nina, born in Honduras in 1986. [103] He has said he was raised in a "born-again Church" in Queens, but has since become an atheist. [104]

Christgau has been long, albeit argumentative, friends with critics such as Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, and Ellen Willis, whom he dated from 1966 to 1969. He has also mentored younger critics such as Ann Powers and Chuck Eddy. [94]

In an interview with The Wire 's Zach Schonfeld, who described Christgau as "notoriously grumpy" and "characteristically cranky", Christgau said he enjoyed pornography, stating that it "performs its arousal function quite well with no outside help". [105]

Bibliography

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Totally Krossed Out is the debut studio album by American hip hop duo Kris Kross. It was produced and largely written by Jermaine Dupri and released on March 31, 1992, by Ruffhouse Records and Columbia Records. After developing a musical concept for the duo, Dupri spent two years writing and producing the album.

<i>G-Man</i> (Sonny Rollins album) album by Sonny Rollins

G-Man is a live album by American jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins. It was recorded at an outdoor concert on August 16, 1986, held at Opus 40 in Saugerties, New York. The concert was filmed for a documentary about Rollins, directed by Robert Mugge, before being released on record in November 1987 by Milestone Records. G-Man received positive reviews from critics, some of whom called it one of Rollins' best albums.

Mundo Civilizado is the second solo album by musician Arto Lindsay. Rock critic Robert Christgau named the album his favorite of 1997 in the annual Pazz & Jop poll published by The Village Voice.

<i>Ocean of Sound</i> 1996 compilation album

Ocean of Sound is a 1996 compilation album compiled and produced by English musician and author David Toop. The two-disc, cross-licensed "various artists" compilation contains 32 tracks culled from a variety of musical sources, including dub, exotica, free jazz, and field recordings. Toop compiled the recordings to serve as both a historical survey of ambient music and an aural companion to his 1995 book Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds.

<i>Guitar</i> (Sonny Sharrock album) album by Sonny Sharrock

Guitar is a 1986 solo studio album by American jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock. He recorded the album with producer Bill Laswell at RPM Sound Studios in New York City. As the project's sole instrumentalist, Sharrock performed and overdubbed his guitar improvisations onto other sections of a song he had recorded beforehand.

<i>Seize the Rainbow</i> album by Sonny Sharrock

Seize the Rainbow is an album by American jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock which was recorded in 1987 and released on the Enemy label.

<i>Highlife</i> (Sonny Sharrock album) album by Sonny Sharrock

Highlife is a studio album by American jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock. It was recorded at Jersey City's Quantum Sound Studio in October 1990 and released later that same year by Enemy Records.

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Further reading