Legendary Village Voice stalwart Robert Christgau, author of Is It Still Good to Ya?: Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017, and mythic CUNY stalwart Eric Lott, author of Black Mirror: The Cultural Contradictions of American Racism, discuss how exactly one writes about the ongoing musical legacy of Chuck Berry, Willie Nelson, and M.I.A.
Is It Still Good to Ya? sums up the career of longtime Village Voice stalwart Robert Christgau, who for half a century has been America's most widely respected rock critic, honoring a music he argues is only more enduring because it's sometimes simple or silly. While compiling historical overviews going back to Dionysus and the gramophone along with artist analyses that range from Louis Armstrong to M.I.A., this definitive collection also explores pop's African roots, response to 9/11, and evolution from the teen music of the '50s to an art form compelled to confront mortality as its heroes pass on. A final section combines searching obituaries of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen with awed farewells to Bob Marley and Ornette Coleman.
Robert Christgau currently contributes a weekly record column to Noisey. In addition to four dozen Village Voice selections, Is It Still Good to Ya? collects pieces from the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Spin, Billboard, and many other venues, including a hundred-word squib from the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. The most recent of Christgau's six previous books is the 2015 memoir Going into the City: Portrait of the Critic as a Young Man. He taught music history and writing at New York University from 2005 to 2016.
Eric Lott has written and lectured widely on the politics of U.S. literature, music, performance, and intellectual life. He received his Ph.D. in English from Columbia University and taught for more than twenty years at the University of Virginia, where he was director of graduate studies in English from 1997 to 2000. He has published dozens of articles, essays, and reviews in books and journals such as the Village Voice, the Nation, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Social Text, PMLA, Representations, and American Quarterly. His book Black Mirror: The Cultural Contradictions of American Racism is forthcoming from Harvard University Press, and he is also the author of The Disappearing Liberal Intellectual (2006) and Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (1993), which won the MLA’s Best First Book Prize, among other awards, and recently appeared in a twentieth-anniversary edition. He is on the editorial board of Criticism.