Greil Marcus al Festivaletteratura 2011 - ©Festivaletteratura
Greil Marcus, nato a San Francisco nel 1945, è uno dei più importanti studiosi del rapporto tra cultura popolare e musica. Collabora con "Rolling Stone", "New York Times", "Esquire", "Interview", "Artforum" e tiene corsi alla University of California di Berkeley e alla Princeton University. Tra i suoi libri tradotti in italiano: "Tracce di rossetto. Percorsi segreti nella cultura del Novecento dal dada ai Sex Pistols", "Mystery Train. Visioni d'America nel rock", "Quella strana, vecchia America. I Basement Tapes di Bob Dylan".
Marcus was born in San Francisco and earned an undergraduate degree in American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, where he also did graduate work in political science. He has been a rock critic and columnist for "Rolling Stone" (where he was the first reviews editor, at $30 a week) and other publications, including "Creem", "The Village Voice", and "Artforum". From 1983 to 1989, Marcus was on the Board of Directors for the National Book Critics Circle.His 1975 book, "Mystery Train", re-defined the parameters of rock music criticism. The book places rock and roll within the context of American cultural archetypes, from Moby-Dick to The Great Gatsby to Stagger Lee. Marcus's "recognition of the unities in the American imagination that already exist" inspired countless rock scribes. His next book, "Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century" (1989), stretched his trademark riffing across a century of Western civilization. Positing punk rock as a transhistorical cultural phenomenon, Marcus examined philosophical connections between entities as diverse as medieval heretics, Dada, the Situationists, and the Sex Pistols. In 1991, Marcus published "Dead Elvis", a collection of writings about Elvis Presley, and in 1993 published "Ranters and Crowd Pleasers" (reissued as "In the Fascist Bathroom: Punk in Pop Music"), an examination of post-punk political pop. In 1997, using old Bob Dylan bootlegs as a starting point, Marcus dissected the American subconscious with Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes. He currently writes the "Elephant Dancing" column for Interview, "Real Life Rock Top Ten" for The Believer, and occasionally teaches graduate courses in American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He also teaches a lecture class at the New School University called "The Old Weird America: Music as Democratic Speech - from the Commonplace Song to Bob Dylan." His next book, "When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison", was published in March 2010. It focuses on "Marcus's quest to understand Van Morrison's particular genius through the extraordinary and unclassifiable moments in his long career." The title is derived from Morrison's 1997 song, "Rough God Goes Riding". His most recent book is "Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010" (Public Affairs, 2010).