Lipstick Traces on the CD

MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, what makes a bad music critic bad is the dream of describing music in some inspirational way that will unite text and sound, making the writing somehow the correlative of the music. The idea of the MC (music cassette), CD, or flexidisc accompanying a piece of writing is a symptom of the contrary belief: the idea of music as the ultimate indescribable, metaphysical medium. In Greil Marcus’ case it’s usually the opposite: his descriptions work independently from the sound of the music he writes about, and are often more interesting in themselves than in relation to their subject matter. I like to read Marcus on Elvis or the Orioles much better than I like listening to them. The context and the narratives he delivers are often hard to reconstruct from the records themselves.

Now, some four years after the publication of his counterhistorical history of dissidence, Lipstick

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