Introduction
Sold a Decade at a Time
When people meet me and find out what I do for a living, they inevitably ask
me what kind of music I listen to and write about. I never know how to answer
the question—never have—so usually I just kind of fumble and stutter a lot.
If I told them how I really felt, they’d probably just think I was weird: namely,
that pop music is bigger, more multidimensional, endlessly compelling in
more directions, than they ever imagined. So it’s kinda hard to pin the stuff
down.
If it helps, though, when I used to moonlight as a bar
Dj
late Saturday
nights while living in New York City at the start of the 21st century, here’s how
I advertised my genre leanings:
“Dj
Edelweiss spins a danceable and drink-
able
all- vinyl
selection of proto- Eurodisco bongo- rock, German reggae,
danceable prog, hair- extension metal, Gregorian garage, boogie- oogied coun-
try, stoner glam, industrial bubblegum, popping- and- locking Zulu wildstyle
space- cowboy hip hop bommi bop, and drunken frat- soul with parties going
on in the background. Plus zillions of ancient Top 40 songs you’d forgotten—
until now.” Okay, maybe that doesn’t help so much.
Still, here’s the thing: I see music history repeating itself, revolving again
and again in strange, intriguing, disturbing, revealing, often hilarious ways.
In the more than three decades during which I wrote the pieces in this book,
popular music itself, music criticism, the music industry, communication
media, and America have all changed immeasurably. So this book aims to
plug into a whole bunch of those changes as they occurred, and somehow tie
them together.
Though it might look at first like an unnavigable dump, there is rather
meticulous method to my madness—a logic, or several overlapping logics.
There are trapdoors and secret passages connecting it all; if you want, you can
make a game of it. Yet all the material comprises just a fraction of my music
writing—or rather, another fraction, after the 100 or so pieces compiled in my
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