Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music

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Eric Weisbard
Duke University Press, 2007 - Music - 323 pages
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Arguing that pop music turns on moments rather than movements, the essays in Listen Again pinpoint magic moments from a century of pop eclecticism, looking at artists who fall between genre lines, songs that sponge up influences from everywhere, and studio accidents with unforeseen consequences. Listen Again collects some of the finest presentations from the celebrated Experience Music Project Pop Conference, where journalists, musicians, academics, and other culturemongers come together once each year to stretch the boundaries of pop music culture, criticism, and scholarship.

Building a history of pop music out of unexpected instances, critics and musicians delve into topics from the early-twentieth-century black performer Bert Williams’s use of blackface, to the invention of the Delta blues category by a forgotten record collector named James McKune, to an ER cast member’s performance as the Germs’ front man Darby Crash at a Germs reunion show. Cuban music historian Ned Sublette zeroes in on the signature riff of the garage-band staple “Louie, Louie.” David Thomas of the pioneering punk band Pere Ubu honors one of his forebears: Ghoulardi, a late-night monster-movie host on Cleveland-area TV in the 1960s. Benjamin Melendez discusses playing in a band, the Ghetto Brothers, that Latinized the Beatles, while leading a South Bronx gang, also called the Ghetto Brothers. Michaelangelo Matos traces the lineage of the hip-hop sample “Apache” to a Burt Lancaster film. Whether reflecting on the ringing freedom of an E chord or the significance of Bill Tate, who performed once in 1981 as Buddy Holocaust and was never heard from again, the essays reveal why Robert Christgau, a founder of rock criticism, has called the EMP Pop Conference “the best thing that’s ever happened to serious consideration of pop music.”

Contributors. David Brackett, Franklin Bruno, Daphne Carr, Henry Chalfant, Jeff Chang, Drew Daniel, Robert Fink, Holly George-Warren, Lavinia Greenlaw, Marybeth Hamilton, Jason King, Josh Kun, W. T. Lhamon, Jr., Greil Marcus, Michaelangelo Matos, Benjamin Melendez, Mark Anthony Neal, Ned Sublette, David Thomas, Steve Waksman, Eric Weisbard


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Whittling on Dynamite The Difference Bert Williams Makes
Searching for the Blues James McKune Collectors and a Different Crossroads
Abie the Fishman On Masks Birthmarks and Hunchbacks
The Kingsmen and the ChaChaCha
Ghoulardi Lessons in Mayhem from the First Age of Punk
Magic Moments the Ghost of FolkRock and the Ring of E Major
Mystery Girl The Forgotten Artistry of Bobbie Gentry
Is That All There Is? and the Uses of Disenchantment
On Punk Rock and Not Being a Girl
The Buddy Holocaust Story A Necromusicology
ORCH5 or the Classical Ghost in the HipHop Machine
White Chocolate Soul Teena Marie and Lewis Taylor
Dancing Democracy and Kitsch Polands Disco Polo
Act Like Darby Crash
Death Letters

Ghetto Brother Power The Bronx Gangs the Beatles the Aguinaldo and a PreHistory of HipHop
Grand Funk Live Staging Rock in the Age of the Arena
The Sound of Velvet Melting The Power of Vibe in the Music of Roberta Flack
All Roads Lead to Apache

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About the author (2007)

Eric Weisbard is the organizer of the annual Experience Music Project Pop Conference. He was a curator and senior manager of the Experience Music Project from 2001 until 2005. Before that, he worked as an editor and contributing writer at Spin and The Village Voice. He is the author of Use Your Illusion I and II and the editor of This Is Pop: In Search of the Elusive at Experience Music Project and the Spin Alternative Record Guide.

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