cover image Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music

Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music

Edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz, foreword by Sasha Frere-Jones, afterword by Daphne Carr and Evie Nagy. Univ. of Minnesota, $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8166-7283-7

Ellen Willis's appointment as the first popular music critic for the New Yorker in 1968 was not only a radical decision in a male-dominated industry, but also a breakthrough that would alter the entire landscape of rock journalism. This exciting compilation chronicles her seven years at the New Yorker, her time as editor of The Village Voice, and more. Willis's 1967 essay on Bob Dylan was career and era defining. Landing her the post at the New Yorker, it's a testament to her ability to balance obsession and objectivity. With revolutionary insight she saw darkness and beauty as well as humor in The Velvet Underground, was diplomatic in appraising The Beatles, and boldly identified Patti Smith as the female embodiment of rock and roll. Arresting reviews of records and concerts ranging from The Rolling Stones to Van Morrison highlight Willis the awestruck disciple. At a time when music was less understood than it is today, Willis appreciated why musicians combined passion and intellect to not only document their time, but also influence movements. This volume clearly shows what Frere-Jones, the current New Yorker pop music critic, states: "Willis's pieces retain the mark of their time without being hostage to it." (May)