Music in the Air The Selected Writings of Ralph J. Gleason Ralph J. Gleason, Toby Gleason, Jann Wenner, Paul Scanlon

Publication date:
28 Jun 2016
Yale University Press
328 pages: 235 x 156 x 25mm
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A collection of the best music writing and cultural criticism from one of the most influential music journalists of his day

The co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, Ralph J. Gleason was among the most respected journalists, interviewers, and critics writing about popular music in the latter half of the twentieth century. As a longtime contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, Down Beat, and Ramparts, his expertise and insights about music, musicians, and cultural trends were unparalleled, whether his subject was jazz, folk, pop, or rock and roll. He was the only music journalist included on President Richard Nixon’s infamous “Enemies List,” which Gleason himself considered “the highest honor a man’s country can bestow upon him.”
This sterling anthology, edited by Gleason’s son Toby, himself a forty-year veteran of the music business, spans Ralph J. Gleason’s four decades as popular music’s preeminent commentator. Drawing from a rich variety of sources, including Gleason’s books, essays, interviews, and LP record album liner notes, it is essential reading for writers, historians, scholars, and music lovers of every stripe.

Two-time Grammy Award winner Ralph J. Gleason (1917–1975) was the author of numerous articles and three highly regarded books on music as well as an acclaimed TV and documentary film producer. Toby Gleason is a veteran jazz radio producer, programmer, and host, and a former assistant editor at Rolling Stone.

“Gleason didn’t review art or life from the sidelines; he wrote from inside the moral, political, and artistic crises of the times, and he perceived them clearly and understood them passionately. His standard of critical practice and his model of critical responsibility are awe-inspiring.”—Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Readers will yearn for Gleason’s musical analysis and insights, which set a path for modern music journalism.”—Library Journal

“A godsend to folks like me who already know and admire [Gleason’s] work — and a standard setter for those who should know him.”—Felix Contreras, NPR Books

“The kind of righteous combination of sociocultural theory and radical politics that, today, you might find on Mark Fisher’s K-punk blog, or in the odd article Ben Watson is able to sneak past editors. In 1970, Gleason wrote “If there is no way to change this world without killing half of us, then fuck it. I’ll do my best to have a ball and go out swinging.” The world still needs changing. We still need writing like this.”—Daniel Spicer, The Wire

“A fine start to what should be a shelf of books on Gleason and his achievement.”—Beyond Chron

“Two important new collections . . . both make for absorbing and instructive reading, in quite different ways.”—Nate Chinen, Jazz Times