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Publisher's Summary

Unlike all previous versions of rock 'n' roll history, this book omits almost every iconic performer and ignores the storied events and turning points everyone knows. Instead, in a daring stroke, Greil Marcus selects 10 songs recorded between 1956 and 2008 and then proceeds to dramatize how each embodies rock 'n' roll as a thing in itself in the story it tells, inhabits, and acts out - a new language, something new under the sun.

"Transmission" by Joy Division. "All I Could Do Was Cry" by Etta James and then Beyoncé. "To Know Him Is to Love Him", first by the Teddy Bears and almost half a century later by Amy Winehouse. In Marcus' hands these and other songs tell the story of the music, which is, at bottom, the story of the desire for freedom in all its unruly and liberating glory. Slipping the constraints of chronology, Marcus braids together past and present, holding up to the light the ways these striking songs fall through time and circumstance, gaining momentum and meaning, astonishing us by upending our presumptions and prejudices. This audiobook, by a founder of contemporary rock criticism - and its most gifted and incisive practitioner - is destined to become an enduring classic.

©2014 Greil Marcus (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Reading Marcus's words with the intensity and focus of a performance artist, Rollins describes how songs such as 'Crying, Waiting, Hoping' by Buddy Holly, 'Sweet Home Chicago' by Robert Johnson, and 'Money Changes Everything' sung by Cyndi Lauper changed music and changed lives." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    48
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Performance

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    92
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    60
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    25
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Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    82
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An ecstatic, inspiring read

Seemingly random choices by the writer have a beautifully inevitable and comprehensive quality that references nature's infinite organizing power. Rollins' unhurried, reverential performance is spot on, and I always felt I was in good hands on this journey. Marcus made me want to write my own history. Thanks to both the reader and the author for the love you poured into this project.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Raymond
  • Sterling, VA, United States
  • 02-03-15

Fresh treatment of Rock history!

Original and thought-provoking history of this music genre that has surrounded my life for decades. I learned some new things and look at others from a new perspective.

My only wish is that these books could include the actual songs!

I recommend this book to all Rock 'n' Roll fans.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Don't just read the title!

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The title isn't accurate. This isn't really a "history of rock". It's more of an impressionistic word painting of rock. The writer is trying really hard to be unique and interesting in both the selections and the way they're described. If that's what you're expecting, cool. For me, I couldn't finish it. Read the description, decide whether that's what you're into, and then go from there.

Would you be willing to try another book from Greil Marcus? Why or why not?

Probably not...I'm interested in the subject, but not THIS interested.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Rollins is good for the subject matter and this writing, but not overall. He. Speaks. Too. Slowly.

Was The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs worth the listening time?

Not for me. For someone who was really into the subject and a conaisseur of the genre, sure. I simply found it obscure and pretentious.

29 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Ambiguous, But Awesome

I've recently developed a strong interest in rock n roll history, and this book is a good exploration (AND exercise!) through this rich music genre. I loved this book. However, it was not exactly what I had anticipated. I expected a history of fine points (perhaps TEN points, to be exact!), but what the book actually does is better. Great Marcus takes you on a journey through rock n rolls history by looking at 10 songs (and none of them are songs that've received much focus as being genre-busters or particularly definitive pieces) and touches base with other songs and artists that live in the theme of the 10 songs. It's in no way an end-all, be-all history book. It's a history through a singular lens of the author. In the bonus features of the audiobook (I believe it was the interview between the author and the narrator Henry Rollins), it's mentioned that any 10 songs could have formed this book, which I agree with. But Greil Marcus manages to weave the 10 songs and their influences together to form a full, rich mosaic that is too unique to belong to any music form BESIDES rock and roll. Henry Rollins' narration is superb. And his insight of his experience reading the book only further enriches your listening experience. It feels almost as if you've had a discussion of the book with a friend (Rollins) and the book's author (Marcus) when you've listened to the bonus features along with the audiobook. This was a particularly invigorating listen throughout, and has been by far my favorite Audible experience. -Jake G

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing,dense,and not what your thinking

This isn't your average top 10 song that define some or any category. This is deeper and it's read by Henry Rollins which is perfect for the book. Also there is some bonus content that I didn't expect and loved every second of it.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Kris
  • Mosinee, WI, United States
  • 05-16-15

Disappointing

I had such high expectations for this book. Henry Rollins did a great job but I couldn't get past the pretentiousness of the text.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

PoetryThe

Greil Marcus says in the interview afterward that he never intended for the book to be read aloud. Too bad, Because Henry Rollins performance elevated the book to pure poetry.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I want to listen to another Rollins-Marcus mix

I recommend this more than any other audiobook I have heard. Somehow even the non spoken parts make perfect sense.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Em
  • 07-13-15

I expected more

I really like Henry Rollins and expected more from him as a reader. His reading was clunky and awkward all the way through. He paused for way too long in the middle of sentences and made weird choices on what words to emphasize. The book itself wasn't terrible, but I can't recommend this audiobook because of Rollins's reading.

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Don't let the name fool you

The word history implies at least some level of chronology- but this book does not follow one. The phrase ten songs implies that the book will focus on ten songs- this book does no such thing. The overall name implies that he will cover the ten most transformative songs in rock history, yet he purposely ignored many of the most important songs in rock history.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful