Monday, July 13, 2009


At Bookforum, fellow Dullblogger Devin McKinney reviews the curiously titled How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll:

The history of pop music is varied enough to generate many conflicting narratives, each with its own supporting data—chart placements, contextual quotes, etc. As Wald writes, “There are no definitive histories because the past keeps looking different as the present changes.” More important than Wald’s data, which are solidly documented, is his failure to charge this chronicle with attitude, drama, and vivid language. Such things matter in a book like this: Revisionist history, if it means to topple shrines and blast platitudes, shouldn’t sound as potted and prosaic as that which it would subvert. Alternative history needs an alternative vision, a third eye to spot miracles on the peripheries. Wald has that eye. What he lacks, or represses, is a style alive with the momentum of change, the juice of rhetoric, or the melancholy of loss. So what if the Beatles destroyed rock ’n’ roll? Wald never gets angry about it. He never even seems sad. I want an alternative.


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