Don’t Know Much About Historiography

Beyond Lester and Leroi, I’m pretty much just wild-guessing.

As if my to-read list wasn’t long enough already, that damn Eric Weisbard had to come along with the 65-page, 1750-or-so-title bibliography to his new Songbooks: The Literature of American Popular Music and blow my Austin Public Library holds out of the water; they only allow me seven at a time, not the 30 I narrowed that bottomless cornucopia down to. And not only has Eric apparently read every last one of those books, he manages to summarize the vast majority in a sentence or less each! A superhuman feat, especially to a slow reader like me.

As for the book itself which I just finished yesterday, guess I need to buy a copy at some point, or at least ask for one for my birthday. I’m hoping the library doesn’t notice how dogeared’s the one I just took on a couple short vacations, including this past week’s long-pandemic-postponed whirlwind Austin-to-Raleigh/Durham-to-Cleveland-and-back grandbaby tour. The needing-my-own-copy factor is clinched by the fact of me being *in* there, with my own chapter heading (atop a writeup of a pile of metal books) and everything, putting me in the august select 1770-to-2010 company of not only Lester Bangs, Jeff Chang, Robert Christgau, Nik Cohn, Simon Frith, Nelson George, Charlie Gillett, Greil Marcus, Richard Meltzer, Ann Powers, Greg Tate, Nick Tosches, Ellen Willis and Carl Wilson, but also (deep breath for just a partial roster) Theodor Adorno, Louis Armstrong, Jacques Attali, Amiri Baraka, Roland Barthes, Chuck Berry, Stanley Booth, John Cage, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr, Theodore Dreiser, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Egan, Ralph Ellison, Otis Ferguson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gary Giddins, Woody Guthrie, Los Bros Hernandez, Billie Holiday, Zola Neale Hurston, Jay-Z, Kitty Kelly, Loretta Lynn, Madonna, Ishmael Reed, Christopher Small, T.D. Rice, David Toop, Sophie Tucker, Joel Whitburn, Walt Whitman, a pair of famous Lomaxes, and several graduate schools worth of seemingly deservedly revered academics. For starters.

The index is a bit bareboned to be as useful as it might have been, some presumably non-human know-it-all edited a couple “Louie Louie”s to just “Louie”s and at least one “Los Van Van” to just “Los Van,” I’m still not sure I can name everyone sitting at that round table on the cover, and only three of my four books made the bibliography. But hey, you can’t have everything. I’ll even buy the “vernacular” vs. “sentimental” dichotomy running the tome’s length. Still, doubt I’ll ever get used to “imaginary” as a noun — must be my lack of schooling.

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