When That Rough God Goes Riding

Listening to Van Morrison

By Greil Marcus
(PublicAffairs, Hardcover, 9781586488215, 208pp.)

Publication Date: April 2010

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Paperback

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Description

A renowned music critic’s revelatory exploration of Van Morrison: what makes him one of the most unique musical artists of our time and what distinguishes his most transcendent moments




About the Author

Greil Marcus is the author of The Shape of Things to Come, Like a Rolling Stone, and The Old Weird America; a 20th anniversary edition of his book Lipstick Traces was published in 2009. With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America, published last year by Harvard University Press. Since 2000 he has taught at Princeton, Berkeley, Minnesota, and the New School in New York; his column “Real Life Rock Top 10” appears regularly in The Believer. He lives in Berkeley.




Praise For When That Rough God Goes Riding

Booklist
“No critical testimonial is more welcome than this assessment of Morrison’s work by one of America’s most astute cultural critics…. Marcus is informed and insightful. Particularly illuminating are his observations on the tensions between Morrison’s roles as singer and songwriter, and on Morrison’s ongoing ‘quest for the yarragh’—fleeting, elusive moments of transcendence. Morrison’s volatile idiosyncrasy and diverse oeuvre make his career difficult to appraise, but Marcus convinces us of its singular importance.”

Time Out New York“Marcus’s approach yields fresh insight into one of pop’s most complex personas.” 

San Francisco Chronicle“Beautifully written.”

Portland Oregonian
“[Marcus is] literate, brainy and fearless in making cross-genre comparisons.”

Portland Mercury
“One of the most interesting rock scribes of the past quarter-century.”

Washington City Paper
“Written in prose as free-associative as the music it concerns, When That Rough God Goes Riding derives energy from the fact that Marcus was present at many of the landmark moments he’s exegizing.”

popmatters.com
When That Rough God Goes Riding explores moments of contradiction, sublime beauty, audacity, failure and grace in the singer-songwriter’s career with a keen ear, weaving the rich thoughtfulness we’ve come to expect from one of America’s best cultural critics and historians into an elegantly structured series of staccato essays which reveal Marcus’ fascination with Van Morrison’s music.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
“As erudite and opinionated as Morrison is mercurial and expressive”

Cleveland Plain Dealer“This is the book that Van Morrison’s artistry has long deserved, and The Man’s devotees will celebrate its blend of eloquence, passionate scholarship and soulfulness. [(When That Rough God Goes Riding] superbly fulfills criticism’s primary function: It sends you for the first or 100th time to the works of art on which it muses, better equipped to experience what’s always been there.” 

San Francisco Chronicle“[Marcus’] ability to couple shrewd music criticism, historical perspective and broader genre analysis makes his work an adventurous read…. Marcus doesn't attempt to tidily summarize Morrison's life and career, but he does provide plenty of thought-provoking insights into this enigmatic performer, and his slipstream of references results in a fascinating meditation on Morrison's oeuvre. You wind up wanting to pull out and listen to your Morrison albums and hunt down the many bootleg recordings that Marcus references here, searching for that elusive yarragh.” 

LA Weekly“Marcus is a smart respite from the raging stupidity and anti-intellectualism on every front, and yet knows how to have rock’n’roll fun at the same time.”

Portland Oregonian, April 18, 2010
“[Marcus is] literate, brainy and fearless in making cross-genre comparisons.”

Portland Mercury, April 21, 2010
“One of the most interesting rock scribes of the past quarter-century.”

Washington City Paper, April 23, 2010
“Written in prose as free-associative as the music it concerns, When That Rough God Goes Riding derives energy from the fact that Marcus was present at many of the landmark moments he’s exegizing.”

Popmatters.com, April 23, 2010
When That Rough God Goes Riding explores moments of contradiction, sublime beauty, audacity, failure and grace in the singer-songwriter’s career with a keen ear, weaving the rich thoughtfulness we’ve come to expect from one of America’s best cultural critics and historians into an elegantly structured series of staccato essays which reveal Marcus’ fascination with Van Morrison’s music.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 25, 2010
“As erudite and opinionated as Morrison is mercurial and expressive”

Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 2, 2010
“This is the book that Van Morrison’s artistry has long deserved, and The Man’s devotees will celebrate its blend of eloquence, passionate scholarship and soulfulness. [When That Rough God Goes Riding] superbly fulfills criticism’s primary function: It sends you for the first or 100th time to the works of art on which it muses, better equipped to experience what’s always been there.”

San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2010
“[Marcus’] ability to couple shrewd music criticism, historical perspective and broader genre analysis makes his work an adventurous read…. Marcus doesn’t attempt to tidily summarize Morrison’s life and career, but he does provide plenty of thought-provoking insights into this enigmatic performer, and his slipstream of references results in a fascinating meditation on Morrison’s oeuvre. You wind up wanting to pull out and listen to your Morrison albums and hunt down the many bootleg recordings that Marcus references here, searching for that elusive yarragh.”

LA Weekly, May 3, 2010
“Marcus is a smart respite from the raging stupidity and anti-intellectualism on every front, and yet knows how to have rock’n’roll fun at the same time.” New York Times Book Review, August 1, 2010"Writing about the songs of Van Morrison is rightly seen as something of a paradox. Perhaps that's because, for all his scholarly use of multiple musical styles and his reference to Yeats and Joyce, the Belfast Cowboy's work is more sensual than it is intellectual. Which makes the renowned rock critic Greil Marcus, who's written definitively on Elvis and Bob Dylan, the right man to plumb that work. Combining an incantatory prose style with careful reporting and inventive, sometimes infuriating judgements, Marcus manages to illuminate Morrison's cerebral soul music—even if, as the singer once claimed, 'the process is beyond words.'"

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