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Leroy, JT, ed. Da Capo Best Music Writing 2005.

LEROY, JT, ed. Da Capo best music writing 2005. Da Capo. 202p. c2005.0-306-81446-3. $15.95. JSA

I suspected that my own sensibilities and those of this year's guest editor, JT LeRoy, were not a perfect match when the first two sentences of his introduction included three pop music references that were to tally obscure to me. My suspicion was confirmed when the editor went on to suggest that the death of Kurt Cobain represented the loss of hope to his entire generation. Clearly, Mr. LeRoy and I are of different generations. Yet, despite this yawning disparity in worldviews, I'm pleased to report that this edition of DaCapo's annual anthology is, as usual, a delight to read. I've reviewed several editions of this superb series over the years, and I continue to be amazed by the consistent quality of the highly diverse writings selected by each year's guest editor.

Needless to say, not every essay will appeal to every reader, but I think it's safe to say that anyone with even a passing interest in popular music will find something to enjoy in these pages. Drawn from such varied publications as Interview, Spin, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and even the Onion, the style and content of these selections range from whimsical to scholarly to frothy to profound. If the editorial slant tilts a bit too much toward punk and hip-hop sensibilities for my personal taste, the book nonetheless offers a revealing interview with Ray Charles, insightful essays on the songwriting of Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly, and Robert Christgau's lengthy analysis of funk's evolution from the seminal New Orleans jazz of Buddy Bolden, among many other pleasures.

With such distinguished and idiosyncratic writers as Greil Marcus and Dave Eggers aboard, the literary quality of these diverse writings could not help but be outstanding. If I were the editor, the collection would include much more on jazz, blues, and classical music, but I'm not, it doesn't, and I highly recommend it just the same. Hey, there's always next year. Jeffrey Cooper, Writer/Editor, Long Island, NY

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Author:Cooper, Jeffrey
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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