Real Life Rock

“Greil Marcus is our greatest cultural critic, not only because of what he says but also, as with rock-and-roll itself, how he says it” wrote David Kerby in The Washinghton Post. For nearly thirty years, Greil Marcus has written a remarkable column called Real Life Rock Top Ten. It has been a laboratory where he has fearlessly explored and wittily dissected an enormous variety of cultural artifacts, from songs to books to movies to advertisements–collected now as Real Life Rock.  Published at the same time is Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations, about songs that seem to have been written by no one, and as such give a peculiarly American strain of free speech to anyone who takes them up.  Both books–direct, erudite, funny, fierce, vivid, uninhibited, and possessing an unerring instinct for art and fraud–are critical arguments about how culture moves through time, and time moves through culture. 

Joining Greil Marcus will be poet and scholar Robert Polito. Our guests will discuss Greil Marcus’s latest publications, as well as the 2014 The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in 10 Songs, recently issued in paperback, and this year’s sixth edition of Marcus’s first book, Mystery Train, first published in 1975.

Greil Marcus has written many books, including  Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of The Twentieth Centuryand Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan at the Crossroads, currently staged at La Comédie-Française in Paris by Marie Rémond and Sébastien Pouderoux. He teaches at Berkeley and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.

Robert Polito’s most recent books are the poetry collection Hollywood & God and Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber. Hollywood & God was chosen by Barnes and Noble as one of the top five poetry books of 2010. Polito received a National Book Critics Circle Award for Savage Art: A Biograpy of Jim Thompson. He is also the  author of the poetry collection Doubles, as well as A Reader’s Guide to James Merrill’s The Changing Light at Sandover, and a study of Byron’s poetry. His poems and reviews, criticism, and essays on literature, film, and popular music have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, Harpers, The Believer, Bookforum, The Poetry Foundation website, Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, and Best American Film Writing. The founding director of the Graduate Writing Program and the Riggio Honors Program: Writing & Democracy at the New School, he served as President of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago (2013-15) before returning to New York and the New School. He is working on a new collection of poems, as well as on a pair of nonfiction books — on noir; and Bob Dylan.