☰ Menu
The HeldenFiles Online

Greil Marcus slates Rock Hall talk

By Rich Heldenfels Published: August 20, 2014

You should know Marcus from his writing. You may also know him from a presentation at the Akron-Summit County Public Library a few years ago. in an interview with Malcolm X Abram at that time, he said this about the hall:

I always thought it was a ridiculous idea. But I love the museum, the changing exhibits, the strange stuff they have — and I've learned how important admission to the rock hall is to musicians. So many truly take it — whether they're in or pining to get in — as an absolute validation, the ultimate recognition that they were here, they did something, it mattered, they'll be remembered.

The official word:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Library and Archives Author Series will welcome Greil Marcus for a reading from his new book, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs. This event will take place on Tuesday, September 23 at 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre of the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), adjacent to the Library and Archives. The Library and Archives will remain open to the public until just before the start of the event. After the reading, Dr. Lauren Onkey, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s vice president of education and public programs, will interview Marcus. Following the interview, Marcus will answer questions from the audience.

This event is FREE with a ticket reservation online at or in-person at the Rock Hall Box Office. Seating is limited. Rock Hall Members can RSVP starting at 10 a.m. on Monday, August 25. General public can RSVP beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 26.

The Rock Hall’s Author Series brings journalists, critics and scholars to the Library and Archives for free readings and discussion sessions. Authors of both new books and classic texts will be invited on a regular basis.

Unlike all previous versions of rock and roll history, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs (publication date: September 2, 2014) omits almost every iconic performer and ignores the storied events and turning points that everyone knows. Instead, in a daring stroke, Greil Marcus selects ten songs recorded between 1956 and 2008, then proceeds to dramatize how each embodies rock and 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’s hands, these and other songs tell the story of the music, which is 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 that these striking songs fall through time and circumstance, gaining momentum and meaning, astonishing us by upending our presumptions and prejudices. This book, by a founder of contemporary rock criticism—and its most gifted and incisive exemplar—is destined to be embraced as an enduring classic.

Greil Marcus is the author of numerous books, including Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ’n’ Roll Music (1975), Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (1989), and, most recently, The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years (2011). The first reviews editor at Rolling Stone magazine, Marcus has also written for Artforum, the New York Times, Salon, and many other publications. He has taught at Princeton, Minnesota, and NYU, and currently teaches at Berkeley and the New School in New York City. His column “Real Life Rock Top 10” appears regularly in The Believer. He divides his time between Oakland, CA and New York City.

The Library and Archives is at 2809 Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. The facility is at the corner of Woodland Avenue and East 30th Street, in a shared building with the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). This is approximately two miles southeast of the Museum.  Free parking will be available in Lots 5 and 6 of the parking garage. Metered parking spaces are available on the street in front of the building or around the block. For a map of the Tri-C Metro Campus, visit


“I first heard Elvis in early 1956 in a school corridor in Norfolk, England. I knew something profound had happened. Where was Greil Marcus back in those Dark Ages to explain to me what was going on? He knows everything and tells an electrifying story.”—Stephen Frears, director High Fidelity and Philomena

“You could go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and take in the artifacts and roll call or you can read Greil Marcus’ kinetic, pulsing, brilliant history of this deeply American art form, The History of Rock ‘N’ Roll in Ten Songs. From his choice of which ten songs to explore to his invention of a kind of a listener’s lexicon—a new way of bending sound to language—Marcus captures why Rock and Roll resonates down to our bones.” —Walter Mosley, author of Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore: A Novel and Devil in a Blue Dress

“A great essay begins with a theme and then makes it fly. Greil Marcus can make it soar. In The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs he does just that. He says of Amy Winehouse that she could unlock a song. Marcus unlocks rock ‘n’ roll history to find more than you ever thought might be there.” —Jenny Diski, author of The Sixties and What I Don’t Know About Animals.

About the Library and Archives:

The Rock Hall’s Library and Archives is the most comprehensive repository of materials relating to the history of rock and roll. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and provide access to these resources for scholars, educators, students, journalists, and the general public in order to broaden awareness and understanding of rock and roll, its roots, and its impact on society.

The HeldenFiles Online Archives




Heldenfels' mailbag

  • Main Blog Promo
  • Cavs Blog Promo
  • Browns Blog Promo
  • Indians Blog Promo
  • Beer Blog Promo
  • Fracking Blog Promo
  • High School Blog Promo
  • Zips Blog Promo
  • Akron Dish Food Blog
Prev Next