A dynamic collection of writing from the world of rock music includes Joan Didion's musings on the Doors, Tom Wolfe on the Beatles, and Roddie Doyle on Irish Soul, among many others.
McKeen's anthology is a tease... but in a good way. All 94 selections will lead readers to the source of each writer's musical inspiration--from Elvis, Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson and Bob Dylan to Kiss, Prince, Nirvana and Marilyn Manson. Tantalizing people into listening to new music, as Guralnick points out in his introduction to Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 (reviewed above), is a sign of good rock 'n' roll prose. In "Rise of the Sacred Monsters," poet and onetime Creem magazine contributor Patti Smith projects her adolescent lust for The Rolling Stones. Readers' blood will rush in time with Smith's and be vicariously totaled by her crush. A personal favorite of McKeen's, which he uses in his writing classes at the University of Florida, is Yoko Ono's calm "Statement to the Press," in which she explains how she told son Sean about John's murder. Besides usual suspects Paul Williams, Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau, Nik Cohn and Lester Bangs, novelists Roddy Doyle, Don DeLillo, Irvine Welsh and Nick Hornby offer refreshing excerpts. Yet intelligent rock 'n' roll students will notice two significant holes in McKeen's coverage--rap and hip-hop--and a heavy bias toward 1960s and 1970s soul men and women (not that they don't deserve the space). Like the Da Capo collection, McKeen's has Guralnick as a selling point and may catch some of the ripples of publicity from Almost Famous. But the focus here is on musical stars, not on fabulous writing; in the long run, this volume is destined for social history syllabi.