About Greil Marcus/Letter in the Ether

Since 1986 I’ve been writing a column called “Real Life Rock Top 10.”  Over the years it has wandered, or been kicked, from place to place, from the Village Voice to Artforum to Salon to City Pages to Interview to the Believer to the Barnes & Noble Review to Pitchfork and back to the Village Voice to rollingstone.com to the Los Angeles Review of Books.  Everything up to March 2021 has been collected in Real Life Rock (2015) and More Real Life Rock (2022).  This will be its new home.  It will die when I do.

This column—each composed of ten items, based in music, in records, concerts, background noise in bars and restaurants, club shows, the radio, TV, but taking in everything it can touch: movies, books, news items, comments overhead while standing in line, 200 or for that matter 20 word polemics, street sights, interviews, comments from readers writing in, advertising, and whatever else seems right, not right, strange, unexpected, unexplained, unexplainable—will be the template for this newsletter. There will be items spun off into features of any length.  There will be a regular “Ask Greil” section, which began on the website GreilMarcus.net in 2016, but will, like the column, find its new home here. There will be pieces uncollected in my own books that to me still have life and are still seeking an audience. There will be whatever comes to mind that seems to deserve the light of day.

If this newsletter finds its footing, some elements will then become available only for those who choose to subscribe.  While over what is now going on 55 years in print I have often written for free, because I want to write, have to write, and imagine that there are some people somewhere who might like to read whatever of mine, by intent or luck, might cross their paths, I do like the satisfaction, the reality, of being paid for what I do.  I could detail all the relevant expenses that need to be taken into account, the fair exchange between writer and reader, and it would all be true, but at the same time it isn’t.  If you subscribe to this newsletter, you will be telling me you’re reading it—and that will make me want to give the best I can to it, day after day, and I hope year after year.

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Everyday culture and found objects


Greil Marcus 

Born in San Francisco 1945; author of Folk Music 2022.