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It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music

It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Where lies the boundary between meaning and sentiment? Between memory and nostalgia? America and Americana? What is and what was? Does it move?"
--Donovon Hohn, A Romance of Rust
 
Part travelogue, part cultural criticism, part music appreciation, It Still Moves does for todays avant folk scene what Greil Marcus did for Dylan and The Basement Tapes. Amanda Petrusich outlines the sounds of the new, weird America—honoring the rich tradition of gospel, bluegrass, country, folk, and rock that feeds it, while simultaneously exploring the American character as personified in all of these genres historically. Through interviews, road stories, geographical and sociological interpretations, and detailed music criticism, Petrusich traces the rise of Americana music from its gospel origins through its new and compelling incarnations (as evidenced in bands and artists from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash to Will Oldham) and explores how the genre is adapting to the twenty-first century. Ultimately the book is an examination of all things American: guitars, cars, kids, motion, passion, enterprise, and change, in a fervent attempt to reconcile the American past with the American present, using only dusty records and highway maps as guides.
Amanda Petrusich is a staff writer at Pitchforkmedia.com and a senior contributing editor at Paste. She is the author of Pink Moon, a short book about Nick Drake's 1972 album for Continuum's 33 1/3 series.

Part travelogue, part cultural criticism, part music appreciation, It Still Moves does for todays avant folk scene what Greil Marcus did for Dylan and The Basement Tapes. Amanda Petrusich outlines the sounds of the new, weird America—honoring the rich tradition of gospel, bluegrass, country, folk, and rock that feeds it, while simultaneously exploring the American character as personified in all of these genres historically. Through interviews, road stories, geographical and sociological interpretations, and detailed music criticism, Petrusich traces the rise of Americana music from its gospel origins through its new and compelling incarnations (as evidenced in bands and artists from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash to Will Oldham) and explores how the genre is adapting to the twenty-first century. Ultimately the book is an examination of all things American: guitars, cars, kids, motion, passion, enterprise, and change, in a fervent attempt to reconcile the American past with the American present, using only dusty records and highway maps as guides.

“Like a smart, genial Persephone, Amanda Petrusich wanders the underworld of American roots music and reports back her insights with an open mind and an open heart. She has a respect for history and an even greater respect for the passion that keeps history alive and meaningful.”—Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone

"Petrusich, a contributing editor at Paste magazine, spent months looping through rural America, searching for 'the songs I love—Americana music, craggy, tottering, uncontrollable country, blues, and folk—to see where they started, and what theyve since inspired.' The hunt began in Nashville, ground zero for Cash and Jennings, and expanded outward, in concentric circles across the country. It Still Moves is an act of synthesis. Part travelogue, part history lesson on the rise of Americana music—'infused with the vitality of the landscapes from which it has sprung'—its heavily reliant on texts by Peter Guralnick, among others. Not much is new here, and thats the point; Petrusich, a twentysomething Brooklynite, is excavating a musical mosaic completed before she was born . . . The results are thrilling. At her best, Petrusich is both awe-struck and erudite, injecting the knotty history of Americana with a personable warmth. Her heroes become our own."—Matthew Shaer, Los Angeles Times

"In It Still Moves, Amanda Petrusich enthuses about music, describes it skillfully, and travels through the South and part of the Northeast in her ambitious quest to find the 'Next American Music,' putting miles on her car and food in her mouth and visiting relevant places and people while drawing on solid research on American music history."—David Maloof, The Boston Globe

"Petrusich, a pop music critic for the New York Times, takes readers along on this 'search for the next American music.' The title is a whole-hearted yes to the question of whether American music still matters, still moves people. But she takes the back roads to get there, discovering how and where music is made, from the 'slapback' technique Sam Phillips used at his Sun Records studio, to the fact that Robert Johnson's fabled highways 61 and 49 merge rather than cross at Clarksdale, Miss. And while some of the roads she travels are pretty dusty with time, Petrusich is also on the trail of current musicmakers. She bemoans the 'slathering with gloss' that renders music from Nashville bland and indistinguishable. And she hails New York's East Village and other less likely sites for hosting bands such as Freakwater and Th' Legendary Shack-Shakers that may or may not admit to being 'alt-country.' As a tour guide, Petrusich is hip and self-aware without being self-righteous, and is obviously passionate about music and the people who make it."—Kathe Connair, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“Like a smart, genial Persephone, Amanda Petrusich wanders the underworld of American roots music and reports back her insights with an open mind and an open heart. She has a respect for history and an even greater respect for the passion that keeps history alive and meaningful.”—Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone

"Yesterday marked the release of It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music, a new book written by noted Pitchfork, Paste, New York Times and Spin scribe Amanda Petrusich. I've read it cover to cover, twice, and it's great. She examines American roots music through a series of road trips to historically important music spots around the country, in hopes of coming to some conclusions about what exactly constitutes 'Americana' in a modern sense. She does a exhaustive job covering all the early stuff, from the Delta Blues, straight through Elvis, Johnny Cash and just about everything else you could think of. But what sets It Still Moves Apart, what makes it stand out from so many of the other like-minded works is—in addition to her focus on geographical features and U.S. highways as an integral to the development of the music she's writing about—that she follows it through to today, discussing at length the alt-country movement of the 90s, the freak-folk movement of a couple years ago, and an assortment of artists carrying on in the same tradition right now. Back in 2001, I remember watching the PBS documentary American Roots Music, about 95% of which was outstanding. It provided more than a surface look at how Americana had changed over the years, about how the genre was kept alive through a series of small changes throughout the years, giving way to all sorts of little sub-genres that were developed by artists who were informed by what came before them without being completely beholden to specific stylistic choices. And then, disappointingly, as soon as they got up to the 90s, with Steve Earle and, I believe, Billy Bragg and Wilco's Mermaid Avenue project where they set unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics to music, the documentary fell apart with depressing footage of old (like, seriously old), white-haired men playing traditional bluegrass on flat-bed trucks at state fairs. It always struck me as odd that the directors weren't willing to do a bit more digging to find out what was going on at the time, that they were content to come to the conclusion that roots music exists today only through a fast-fading (read: dying) group of revivalists. Fortunately, Petrusich does a much better job."—The L Magazine 

"Petrusich utilized her considerable knowledge of folkish, rockish, and country-ish subjects in the writing of her second book, It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music. (Her first book was last year's entry on Nick Drake's Pink Moon in the 33 1/3 series.) Part memoir and travelogue, part sociological study and piece of criticism, It Still Moves features stories and interviews that explore the history and current state of Americana, 'from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash to Will Oldham.'"—Pitchfork

"Amanda Petrusich has been suffering from genre meld. In the old days, the charts made clear distinctions—rock, country, rap, soul, R&B. No more. How did it happen that so many musical acts can now no longer be easily categorized? How should a music writer describe modern sounds? Perhaps most vital, whats next? To find out (note the word 'next' in the books subtitle), Petrusich—a Paste senior contributing editor whose book originated as an article in these pages—devised a solo road trip, starting from her home base in Brooklyn. The result is a mixture of music journalism, American history and a paved journey akin to a contemporary Blue Highways . . . I learned a great deal from Petrusichs Delta blues chapter. Her research and sensitivity are impressive."—Steve Weinberg, Paste magazine

"With It Still Moves, Amanda Petrusich shows us what the current indie-folk scene and its record-collecting twenty—and thirtysomethings—which she labels 'the new, weird, hyphenated America'—have to do with classic American folk: what bands like Iron and Wine and Califone have inherited from that tradition and what they've thrown away. To do all this, the 28-year-old Pitchfork scribe and Paste editor hit the road, heading south in her beat-up Honda Civic to Memphis, Nashville, and Appalachia to find the seeds of folk and the birthplace of rock 'n' roll. Heady stuff, to be sure. Fortunately, Petrusich's evocative language is loaded with none of the cynicism and snarkiness so favored by many of her rock-crit peers. She's able to talk about 'music that comes from a tough place'—about what is and isn't 'authentic'—without diluting the notion with irony. When she calls Robert Johnson's blues 'the sound of one man using his entire being to create a noise so deep it's unfathomable,' she means it. Petrusich loves this music and isn't afraid to sing along . . . [A] fascinating thesis about contemporary music—that the ecstatic folk-tronics of Animal Collective can be traced all the way back to the Carter Family."—John S.W. MacDonald, The Village Voice

"Perhaps its not surprising that the very question that led her to write her latest book, It Still Moves—'What does Americana look like?'—was not found at a folk festival or sitting in her Brooklyn apartment reviewing the latest Wilco or Calexico records, but by watching several of those 500+ infamous red barn stores whiz by on her interstate travels. Cracker Barrel does indeed bring us warm-hearted memories of the old days that never existed for most of us. The company magically conjures images of calling the family dog inside while the rainstorm barrels over the fields, or the smell of crisp, baked apple pies wafting in the autumnal breeze. Where or why we have these images is altogether another question, yet certain stores—like Cracker Barrel—make a killing from the impulse. Yet Petrusichs real question isnt what Americana looks like, but what it sounds like. And this is a question she is most ready to, if not answer, then at least explore in-depth. She is a passionate writer whose love for music shines through on every page. As she explains early on, she is not concerned with how many records are sold or what tactics artists use in the studio. Her approach is more intangible, hence more emotionally tactile: Who are these people creating this music? What are their dreams, ambitions, philosophies? We can hear the result of their craft. What is the foundation of their songs? This is, in large part, what makes this book so enjoyable—the people behind the songs, not to mention her own personal perceptions of what goes on behind her scenes. And it is a refreshing approach, especially in a time when most anyone can publish a book (last year, over 400,000 new titles hit shelves and websites in America alone), and the majority of this literary landslide lands in the most egregious and mundane genre imaginable: memoirs. It takes a keen eye (and pen) to write your own story for the greater good of the topic matter; Petrusich nails it. Indeed, it is embedded in her subject matters philosophy. As she writes early on, 'most traditional Americana music is produced without much concern for its commercial potential.' During the story that unfolds thereafter, her thesis is proven over and again . . . Petrusichs focus is the influence of blues on rock music, and how that has come to be represented in the numerous folk-, country-, and emo-based forms that are circulating today, represented in the tones and timber of Wilco, Califone, Iron and Wine and others. Along the way she takes pit stops along the countrys sonic timeline, like a brief history of Sun Studios and Sun Records and the emergence of Elvis Presley; a visit to Graceland, where upon learning that he 'liked monkeys and watching television in the kitchen,' for the iconic Presley was humanized in her eyes; and a great historical overview of Woody Guthries emotionally challenged life in Coney Island, and his rise to prominence on the national folk scene. Like all good stories, there is no summation, but a glimpse of the continuation to come. That is what music does—it serves the needs of the times. If it stagnates, the culture is unmoved. Styles are staircases that we climb up and create new buildings with. The raw materials of song remain the same, however: struggle, heartbreak, ascension, passion. As the writer concludes, she understands we are not the dominant species on this planet, that we have grown out of the dirt and steel and blood of this earth like all else: 'We are all subject to our environs, fashioned and chiseled and sanded into shapes. We have highways for arteries and clouds for brains and sticks for bones.'"—Derek Beres, PopMatters

"It's practically in the job description now that rock critics visit the music's southern birth cradles and return, Moses-like, with a book full of rumination and contextualization. At first glance, Amanda Petrusich's It Still Moves wouldn't seem to offer much new, since we've already read all about Robert Johnson, the Carter Family, Elvis Presley and Woody Guthrie in seminal texts from Robert Gordon, Nick Tosches, Greil Marcus, and Peter Guralnick, among others. But through 18 months of hard-core road tripping and scores of interviews, a voracious reading list, and heartfelt affinity for the wildly varied music called Americana, the Pitchfork staff writer has performed the overdue service of connecting the dots into the present. Most significant is her understanding that, contrary to rigid doctrinaires of all stripes and eras, the bloodlines of Johnson, the Carters, and Guthrie still course in new and intriguing ways through contemporary music, embodied in the DNAs of Freakwater, Will Oldham, Califone, Iron & Wine, Devendra Banhart, and scores of others. But that's just a barstool argument without Petrusich's personable, New Journalism prose style and reporting skills. Whether she's worrying over a Bear Family box set in her beat-up Honda or contemplating the slippery definition of 'authenticity' (Americana's holy grail and white whale); rolling through Mississippi crossroads or drinking pints with Freak Folkers in Vermont; interviewing the decorator of Cracker Barrel or trolling through the Smithsonian Folkways archives; or just lamenting the hipster-fication of her own Brooklyn neighborhood, Petrusich exhibits the great reporter's knack for capturing the telling details. You come away from It Still Moves with abundant proof that appropriation—however obvious, devious, or oblivious—isn't just flattery, it's how music retains its vitality and seductive power; the best add their own take on tradition, spinning songs out into ever-new territories. For anyone who's ever had their heartstrings plucked by a lonesome pedal steel or banjo, as well as those who think Animal Collective or Joanna Newsome sprung fully formed from the ether, Petrusich's journey is also yours."—John Schacht, Blurt

"The blues' primal subjects—love, betrayal and that final dead end that awaits us all—have always looped around place names and travel, usually by thumb or railroad car . . . One book journeys the genre itself into Americana music. It Still Moves, Amanda Petrusich's beautifully written 'audio-travelogue,' as critic Simon Reynolds calls it, begins in Brooklyn, but the section titled 'Trail of the Hellhounds: Clarksdale's Deep Mississippi Blues' is its most compelling. Fittingly, Petrusich's first quotation comes from Nashville's Jeff Green, the former executive director of the Americana Music Association, about the diversity of the current scene, thanks, in part, to the computer age: 'Pro Tools and convenient, portable studios mean that its a ball game where almost anybody can play.' Or a highway on which anyone might fare. Say amen, somebody."—Diann Blakely, Nashville Scene

“Obsessed with roots but founded on uprooting, America has always been characterized by restless internal migration: people are always leaving home to find a better, truer home. In It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the American Music, Amanda Petrusich hits the road too, looking to crack the conundrum of the culture that produced Robert Johnson, Lead Belly and Hank Williams but also Cracker Barrel, Graceland, and Clear Channel. Talking and listening and eating her way across an American landscape as earthy as grits 'n' gravy yet as ethereal as the wraith-like plaint of pedal steel, she finds that the mystery doesn't so much resolve as grow more vivid. In this sharply observed, intensely felt audio-travelogue, ‘Americana emerges as not so much a sound or musical genre as an imaginary country, a dream land superimposed over the real U.S.A. Above all it's a fantasy of the South spun by people mostly not from there, a salve for that feeling of hollowness that haunts modern urban existence, a remedy for our aching sense that real life is elsewhere.”—Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84

“Music critic Petrusich chooses to pursue a fascinating and ongoing story: the development of American music and how it maps to that of America as a country is a quest that has claimed many a musicologist and critic. It is curious, then, that Petrusich's study is so thin. Much of the history she relates, studded though it is with visits to Graceland, Sun Records, and Nashville, will be familiar to those with a passing knowledge of American roots music. Her nostalgic reflections on how many of these places have decayed or changed should have led to a deeper discussion of where American roots music is going, which is ostensibly what Petrusich attempts to tackle. Only in a mid-book digression into alternative country and a final chapter on avant-garde folk does Petrusich really delve into the consequences of phenomena such as the rise of radio and the modern, deliberate mash-up of genres, artists, and instrumentation.”—Genevieve Williams, Library Journal

“In this musical road trip, Petrusich lights out into the country to discover what constitutes American music and the ways that it influences the music that has come to be known as Americana. Much like famed musicologist Alan Lomax—the man instrumental in introducing Delta blues to the world—Petrusich searches high and low, from Memphis and Nashville to Gainesville, Fla., and New York City for the many strains that compose the chorus of American music. In a narrative that is often humorous, Petrusich discovers the usual suspects—Lomax, Harry Smith and Smithsonian Folkways, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Elvis, Robert Johnson—but pulls out most of the shopworn stories about them. Moe Asch, for instance, who started Folkways Recordings in 1948 (later bought by the Smithsonian in 1987), famously turned down both Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, saying that they were both just singers that didn't have anything to say. Asch's label was so significant to the development of American music that Dylan has since commented that, early on, he had ‘envisioned myself recording on Folkway Records.”—Publishers Weekly

Review:

"In this musical road trip, Petrusich (staff writer for Pitchforkmedia.com and author of Pink Moon) lights out into the country to discover what constitutes American music and the ways that it influences the music that has come to be known as Americana. Much like famed musicologist Alan Lomax — the man instrumental in introducing Delta blues to the world — Petrusich searches high and low, from Memphis and Nashville to Gainesville, Fla., and New York City for the many strains that compose the chorus of American music. In a narrative that is often humorous, Petrusich discovers the usual suspects — Lomax, Harry Smith and Smithsonian Folkways, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Elvis, Robert Johnson — but pulls out most of the shopworn stories about them. Moe Asch, for instance, who started Folkways Recordings in 1948 (later bought by the Smithsonian in 1987), famously turned down both Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, saying that they were both just singers that didn't have anything to say. Asch's label was so significant to the development of American music that Dylan has since commented that, early on, he had 'envisioned myself recording on Folkway Records.' For all her excursions into various regions of the country and various musical styles, however, Petrusich's conclusion that American music reflects the landscape from which it springs is disappointing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Part travelogue, part musical history, Amanda Petrusichs It Still Moves outlines the sounds of the new, weird America—honoring the rich traditions of gospel, blues, country, folk, and rock that feed it while simultaneously exploring the American character as personified by its songs and landscapes. Through interviews, road stories, and rich music criticism, Petrusich traces the rise of Americana music from its early origins to its new and compelling incarnations—from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Charley Patton to Wilco. Ultimately, It Still Moves is a fervent attempt to reconcile the American past with the American present, using only dusty records and highway maps as guides.

Synopsis:

Where lies the boundary between meaning and sentiment? Between memory and nostalgia? America and Americana? What is and what was? Does it move?--Donovon Hohn, A Romance of Rust Part travelogue, part cultural criticism, part music appreciation, It Still Moves does for today's avant folk scene what Greil Marcus did for Dylan and The Basement Tapes. Amanda Petrusich outlines the sounds of the new, weird America--honoring the rich tradition of gospel, bluegrass, country, folk, and rock that feeds it, while simultaneously exploring the American character as personified in all of these genres historically. Through interviews, road stories, geographical and sociological interpretations, and detailed music criticism, Petrusich traces the rise of Americana music from its gospel origins through its new and compelling incarnations (as evidenced in bands and artists from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash to Will Oldham) and explores how the genre is adapting to the twenty-first century. Ultimately the book is an examination of all things American: guitars, cars, kids, motion, passion, enterprise, and change, in a fervent attempt to reconcile the American past with the American present, using only dusty records and highway maps as guides. Amanda Petrusich is a staff writer at Pitchforkmedia.com and a senior contributing editor at Paste. She is the author of Pink Moon, a short book about Nick Drake's 1972 album for Continuum's 33 1/3 series.

Part travelogue, part cultural criticism, part music appreciation, It Still Moves does for today's avant folk scene what Greil Marcus did for Dylan and The Basement Tapes. Amanda Petrusich outlines the sounds of the new, weird America--honoring the rich tradition of gospel, bluegrass, country, folk, and rock that feeds it, while simultaneously exploring the American character as personified in all of these genres historically. Through interviews, road stories, geographical and sociological interpretations, and detailed music criticism, Petrusich traces the rise of Americana music from its gospel origins through its new and compelling incarnations (as evidenced in bands and artists from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash to Will Oldham) and explores how the genre is adapting to the twenty-first century. Ultimately the book is an examination of all things American: guitars, cars, kids, motion, passion, enterprise, and change, in a fervent attempt to reconcile the American past with the American present, using only dusty records and highway maps as guides. Like a smart, genial Persephone, Amanda Petrusich wanders the underworld of American roots music and reports back her insights with an open mind and an open heart. She has a respect for history and an even greater respect for the passion that keeps history alive and meaningful.--Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone

Petrusich, a contributing editor at Paste magazine, spent months looping through rural America, searching for 'the songs I love--Americana music, craggy, tottering, uncontrollable country, blues, and folk--to see where they started, and what they've since inspired.' The hunt began in Nashville, ground zero for Cash and Jennings, and expanded outward, in concentric circles across the country. It Still Moves is an act of synthesis. Part travelogue, part history lesson on the rise of Americana music--'infused with the vitality of the landscapes from which it has sprung'--it's heavily reliant on texts by Peter Guralnick, among others. Not much is new here, and that's the point; Petrusich, a twentysomething Brooklynite, is excavating a musical mosaic completed before she was born . . . The results are thrilling. At her best, Petrusich is both awe-struck and erudite, injecting the knotty history of Americana with a personable warmth. Her heroes become our own.--Matthew Shaer, Los Angeles Times

In It Still Moves, Amanda Petrusich enthuses about music, describes it skillfully, and travels through the South and part of the Northeast in her ambitious quest to find the 'Next American Music, ' putting miles on her car and food in her mouth and visiting relevant places and people while drawing on solid research on American music history.--David Maloof, The Boston Globe

Petrusich, a pop music critic for the New York Times, takes readers along on this 'search for the next American music.' The title is a whole-hearted yes to the question of whether American music still matters, still moves people. But she takes the back roads to get there, discovering how and where music is made, from the 'slapback' technique Sam Phillips used at his Sun Records studio, to the fact that Robert Johnson's fabled highways 61 and 49 merge rather than cross at Clarksdale, Miss. And while some of the roads she travels are pretty dusty with time, Petrusich is also on the trail of current musicmakers. She bemoans the 'slathering with gloss' that renders music from Nashville bland and indistinguishable. And she hails New York's East Village and other less likely sites for hosting bands such as Freakwater and Th' Legendary Shack-Shakers that may or may not admit to being 'alt-country.' As a tour guide, Petrusich is hip and self-aware without being self-righteous, and is obviously passionate about music and the people who make it.--Kathe Connair, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Like a smart, genial Persephone, Amanda Petrusich wanders the underworld of American roots music and reports back her insights with an open mind and an open heart. She has a respect for history and an even greater respect for the passion that keeps history alive and meaningful.--Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone

Yesterday marked the release of It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music, a new book written by noted Pitchfork, Paste, New York Times and Spin scribe Amanda Petrusich. I've read it cover to cover, twice, and it's great. She examines American roots music through a series of road trips to historically important music spots around the country, in hopes of coming to some conclusions about what exactly constitutes 'Americana' in a modern sense. She does a exhaustive job covering all the early stuff, from the Delta Blues, straight through Elvis, Johnny Cash and just about everything else you could think of. But what sets It Still Moves Apart, what makes it stand out from so many of the other like-minded works is--in addition to her focus on geographical features and U.S. highways as an integral to the development of the music she's writing about--that she follows it through to today, discussing at length the alt-country movement of the 90s, the freak-folk movement of a couple years ago, and an assortment of artists carrying on in the same tradition right now. Back in 2001, I remember watching the PBS documentary American Roots Music, about 95% of which was outstanding. It provided more than a surface look at how Americana had changed over the years, about how the genre was kept alive through a series of small changes throughout the years, giving way to all sorts of little sub-genres that were developed by artists who were informed by what came before them without being completely beholden to specific stylistic choices. And then, disappointingly, as soon as they got up to the 90s, with Steve Earle and, I believe, Billy Bragg and Wilco's Mermaid Avenue project where they set unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics to music, the documentary fell apart with depressing footage of old (like, seriously old), white-haired men playing traditional bluegrass on flat-bed trucks at state fairs. It always struck me as odd that the directors weren't willing to do a bit more digging to find out what was going on at the time, that they were content to come to the conclusion that roots music exists today only through a fast-fading (read: dying) group of revivalists. Fortunately, Petrusich does a much better job.--The L Magazine

Petrusich utilized her considerable knowledge of folkish, rockish, and country-ish subjects in the writing of her second book, It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music. (Her first book was last year's entry on Nick Drake's Pink Moon in the 33 1/3 series.) Part memoir and travelogue, part sociological study and piece of criticism, It Still Moves features stories and interviews that explore the history and current state of Americana, 'from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash to Will Oldham.'--Pitchfork

Amanda Petrusich has been suffering from genre meld. In the old days, the charts made clear distinctions--rock, country, rap, soul, R&B. No more. How did it happen that so many musical acts can now no longer be easily categorized? How should a music writer describe modern sounds? Perhaps most vital, what's next? To find out (note the word 'next' in the book's subtitle), Petrusich--a Paste senior contributing editor whose book originated as an article in these pages--devised a solo road trip, starting from her home base in Brooklyn. The result is a mixture of music journalism, American history and a paved journey akin to a contemporary Blue Highways . . . I learned a great deal from Petrusich's Delta blues chapter. Her research and sensitivity are impressive.--Steve Weinberg, Paste magazine

With It Still Moves, Amanda Petrusich shows us what the current indie-folk scene and its record-collecting twenty--and thirtysomethings--which she labels 'the new, weird, hyphenated America'--have to do with classic American folk: what bands like Iron and Wine and Califone have inherited from that tradition and what they've thrown away. To do all this, the 28-year-old Pitchfork scribe and Paste editor hit the road, heading south in her beat-up Ho

About the Author

Amanda Petrusich is a staff writer at Pitchforkmedia.com, a senior contributing editor at Paste, and the author of Pink Moon, a short book about Nick Drakes 1972 album. She lives and works in Brooklyn.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780865479500
Subtitle:
Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music
Publisher:
Faber & Faber
Author:
Petrusich, Amanda
Subject:
General Music
Subject:
General
Subject:
Blues (music)
Subject:
Country music
Subject:
Genres & Styles - Pop Vocal
Subject:
History & Criticism - General
Subject:
United States Description and travel.
Subject:
Blues (Music) -- History and criticism.
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
Folk & Traditional
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20090818
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
17 Black-and-White Photographs/Selected
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 x 1.07 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Folk » American Folk

It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music
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Product details 304 pages Faber & Faber - English 9780865479500 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this musical road trip, Petrusich (staff writer for Pitchforkmedia.com and author of Pink Moon) lights out into the country to discover what constitutes American music and the ways that it influences the music that has come to be known as Americana. Much like famed musicologist Alan Lomax — the man instrumental in introducing Delta blues to the world — Petrusich searches high and low, from Memphis and Nashville to Gainesville, Fla., and New York City for the many strains that compose the chorus of American music. In a narrative that is often humorous, Petrusich discovers the usual suspects — Lomax, Harry Smith and Smithsonian Folkways, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Elvis, Robert Johnson — but pulls out most of the shopworn stories about them. Moe Asch, for instance, who started Folkways Recordings in 1948 (later bought by the Smithsonian in 1987), famously turned down both Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, saying that they were both just singers that didn't have anything to say. Asch's label was so significant to the development of American music that Dylan has since commented that, early on, he had 'envisioned myself recording on Folkway Records.' For all her excursions into various regions of the country and various musical styles, however, Petrusich's conclusion that American music reflects the landscape from which it springs is disappointing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,

Part travelogue, part musical history, Amanda Petrusichs It Still Moves outlines the sounds of the new, weird America—honoring the rich traditions of gospel, blues, country, folk, and rock that feed it while simultaneously exploring the American character as personified by its songs and landscapes. Through interviews, road stories, and rich music criticism, Petrusich traces the rise of Americana music from its early origins to its new and compelling incarnations—from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Charley Patton to Wilco. Ultimately, It Still Moves is a fervent attempt to reconcile the American past with the American present, using only dusty records and highway maps as guides.

"Synopsis" by , Where lies the boundary between meaning and sentiment? Between memory and nostalgia? America and Americana? What is and what was? Does it move?--Donovon Hohn, A Romance of Rust Part travelogue, part cultural criticism, part music appreciation, It Still Moves does for today's avant folk scene what Greil Marcus did for Dylan and The Basement Tapes. Amanda Petrusich outlines the sounds of the new, weird America--honoring the rich tradition of gospel, bluegrass, country, folk, and rock that feeds it, while simultaneously exploring the American character as personified in all of these genres historically. Through interviews, road stories, geographical and sociological interpretations, and detailed music criticism, Petrusich traces the rise of Americana music from its gospel origins through its new and compelling incarnations (as evidenced in bands and artists from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash to Will Oldham) and explores how the genre is adapting to the twenty-first century. Ultimately the book is an examination of all things American: guitars, cars, kids, motion, passion, enterprise, and change, in a fervent attempt to reconcile the American past with the American present, using only dusty records and highway maps as guides. Amanda Petrusich is a staff writer at Pitchforkmedia.com and a senior contributing editor at Paste. She is the author of Pink Moon, a short book about Nick Drake's 1972 album for Continuum's 33 1/3 series.

Part travelogue, part cultural criticism, part music appreciation, It Still Moves does for today's avant folk scene what Greil Marcus did for Dylan and The Basement Tapes. Amanda Petrusich outlines the sounds of the new, weird America--honoring the rich tradition of gospel, bluegrass, country, folk, and rock that feeds it, while simultaneously exploring the American character as personified in all of these genres historically. Through interviews, road stories, geographical and sociological interpretations, and detailed music criticism, Petrusich traces the rise of Americana music from its gospel origins through its new and compelling incarnations (as evidenced in bands and artists from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash to Will Oldham) and explores how the genre is adapting to the twenty-first century. Ultimately the book is an examination of all things American: guitars, cars, kids, motion, passion, enterprise, and change, in a fervent attempt to reconcile the American past with the American present, using only dusty records and highway maps as guides. Like a smart, genial Persephone, Amanda Petrusich wanders the underworld of American roots music and reports back her insights with an open mind and an open heart. She has a respect for history and an even greater respect for the passion that keeps history alive and meaningful.--Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone

Petrusich, a contributing editor at Paste magazine, spent months looping through rural America, searching for 'the songs I love--Americana music, craggy, tottering, uncontrollable country, blues, and folk--to see where they started, and what they've since inspired.' The hunt began in Nashville, ground zero for Cash and Jennings, and expanded outward, in concentric circles across the country. It Still Moves is an act of synthesis. Part travelogue, part history lesson on the rise of Americana music--'infused with the vitality of the landscapes from which it has sprung'--it's heavily reliant on texts by Peter Guralnick, among others. Not much is new here, and that's the point; Petrusich, a twentysomething Brooklynite, is excavating a musical mosaic completed before she was born . . . The results are thrilling. At her best, Petrusich is both awe-struck and erudite, injecting the knotty history of Americana with a personable warmth. Her heroes become our own.--Matthew Shaer, Los Angeles Times

In It Still Moves, Amanda Petrusich enthuses about music, describes it skillfully, and travels through the South and part of the Northeast in her ambitious quest to find the 'Next American Music, ' putting miles on her car and food in her mouth and visiting relevant places and people while drawing on solid research on American music history.--David Maloof, The Boston Globe

Petrusich, a pop music critic for the New York Times, takes readers along on this 'search for the next American music.' The title is a whole-hearted yes to the question of whether American music still matters, still moves people. But she takes the back roads to get there, discovering how and where music is made, from the 'slapback' technique Sam Phillips used at his Sun Records studio, to the fact that Robert Johnson's fabled highways 61 and 49 merge rather than cross at Clarksdale, Miss. And while some of the roads she travels are pretty dusty with time, Petrusich is also on the trail of current musicmakers. She bemoans the 'slathering with gloss' that renders music from Nashville bland and indistinguishable. And she hails New York's East Village and other less likely sites for hosting bands such as Freakwater and Th' Legendary Shack-Shakers that may or may not admit to being 'alt-country.' As a tour guide, Petrusich is hip and self-aware without being self-righteous, and is obviously passionate about music and the people who make it.--Kathe Connair, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Like a smart, genial Persephone, Amanda Petrusich wanders the underworld of American roots music and reports back her insights with an open mind and an open heart. She has a respect for history and an even greater respect for the passion that keeps history alive and meaningful.--Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone

Yesterday marked the release of It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music, a new book written by noted Pitchfork, Paste, New York Times and Spin scribe Amanda Petrusich. I've read it cover to cover, twice, and it's great. She examines American roots music through a series of road trips to historically important music spots around the country, in hopes of coming to some conclusions about what exactly constitutes 'Americana' in a modern sense. She does a exhaustive job covering all the early stuff, from the Delta Blues, straight through Elvis, Johnny Cash and just about everything else you could think of. But what sets It Still Moves Apart, what makes it stand out from so many of the other like-minded works is--in addition to her focus on geographical features and U.S. highways as an integral to the development of the music she's writing about--that she follows it through to today, discussing at length the alt-country movement of the 90s, the freak-folk movement of a couple years ago, and an assortment of artists carrying on in the same tradition right now. Back in 2001, I remember watching the PBS documentary American Roots Music, about 95% of which was outstanding. It provided more than a surface look at how Americana had changed over the years, about how the genre was kept alive through a series of small changes throughout the years, giving way to all sorts of little sub-genres that were developed by artists who were informed by what came before them without being completely beholden to specific stylistic choices. And then, disappointingly, as soon as they got up to the 90s, with Steve Earle and, I believe, Billy Bragg and Wilco's Mermaid Avenue project where they set unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics to music, the documentary fell apart with depressing footage of old (like, seriously old), white-haired men playing traditional bluegrass on flat-bed trucks at state fairs. It always struck me as odd that the directors weren't willing to do a bit more digging to find out what was going on at the time, that they were content to come to the conclusion that roots music exists today only through a fast-fading (read: dying) group of revivalists. Fortunately, Petrusich does a much better job.--The L Magazine

Petrusich utilized her considerable knowledge of folkish, rockish, and country-ish subjects in the writing of her second book, It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music. (Her first book was last year's entry on Nick Drake's Pink Moon in the 33 1/3 series.) Part memoir and travelogue, part sociological study and piece of criticism, It Still Moves features stories and interviews that explore the history and current state of Americana, 'from Elvis to Iron and Wine, the Carter Family to Animal Collective, Johnny Cash to Will Oldham.'--Pitchfork

Amanda Petrusich has been suffering from genre meld. In the old days, the charts made clear distinctions--rock, country, rap, soul, R&B. No more. How did it happen that so many musical acts can now no longer be easily categorized? How should a music writer describe modern sounds? Perhaps most vital, what's next? To find out (note the word 'next' in the book's subtitle), Petrusich--a Paste senior contributing editor whose book originated as an article in these pages--devised a solo road trip, starting from her home base in Brooklyn. The result is a mixture of music journalism, American history and a paved journey akin to a contemporary Blue Highways . . . I learned a great deal from Petrusich's Delta blues chapter. Her research and sensitivity are impressive.--Steve Weinberg, Paste magazine

With It Still Moves, Amanda Petrusich shows us what the current indie-folk scene and its record-collecting twenty--and thirtysomethings--which she labels 'the new, weird, hyphenated America'--have to do with classic American folk: what bands like Iron and Wine and Califone have inherited from that tradition and what they've thrown away. To do all this, the 28-year-old Pitchfork scribe and Paste editor hit the road, heading south in her beat-up Ho

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