Friday, February 25, 2011

"Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music" due out in May

by Ellen Willis
Edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz
Foreword by Sasha Frere-Jones
Afterword by Daphne Carr and Evie Nagy
University of Minnesota Press 272 pages May 2011
ISBN 978-0-8166-7283-7 paperback $22.95
ISBN 978-0-8166-7282-0 library cloth $69.00

Out of the Vinyl Deeps is a collection of rock criticism by Ellen Willis, a cultural critic famous for her column Rock, Etc. that ran in the New Yorker from 1968-1975. While most discussion of pop criticism at that time focused on the work of influential male writers (Richard Goldstein, Robert Christgau, Greil Marcus, Lester Bangs, etc.), Willis was writing for a larger audience than almost any other critic making her one of the few women to break into a predominately male rock criticism scene.

The book includes pieces on David Bowie, the New York Dolls, the Velvet Underground, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, and many others, as well as the groundbreaking essay on Bob Dylan that got her the job at the New Yorker. Willis only wrote about the moments and people she was drawn to, not necessarily those that others thought were important and popular, making this anthology less a survey of 60s and 70s rock music than it is Willis's picks for the most culturally valuable, influential, or fascinating artists and moments of that time.

Not only is Out of the Vinyl Deeps a look at Willis's immensely layered writing career, it's a belated recognition of a true cultural phenomenon and claims her rightful place in rock n' roll history.


Ellen Willis (1941–2006) was a groundbreaking radical leftist writer and thinker whose true loves were rock music, feminism, pleasure, and freedom. She was the first pop music critic for the New Yorker and an editor and columnist at the Village Voice. She wrote for numerous publications, including Rolling Stone, the New York Times, the Nation, and Dissent. She was the founder of the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University, and she published three books of essays, Beginning to See the Light, No More Nice Girls, and Don’t Think, Smile.

Nona Willis Aronowitz has written about women, sex, music, technology, film, and youth culture for publications such as the Nation, the New York Observer, the Village Voice, and Salon. She is coauthor of Girldrive: Criss-crossing America, Redefining Feminism.

Sasha Frere-Jones is a staff writer for the New Yorker.

Daphne Carr is editor of the Best Music Writing series.

Evie Nagy is an associate editor at Billboard Magazine.

For more information, including the table of contents, visit the book's webpage:

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