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Double Trouble: Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley in a Land of No Alternatives

3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  45 ratings  ·  6 reviews
In June of 1992, when all the polls showed that Bill Clinton didn't have a chance, he took his saxophone onto the Arsenio Hall show, put on dark glasses, and blew "Heartbreak Hotel." Greil Marcus, one of America's most imaginative and insightful popular culture critics, was the first to name this as the moment that turned Clinton's campaign around--and to make sense of why ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 22nd 2001 by Picador (first published 2000)
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John
I thought Greil Marcus was generally regarded as one the more respected rock n' roll critics (if such a depiction is possible) along with other Rolling Stone veterans like Ben Fong-Torres, Kurt Loder, Cameron Crowe and, hell, even Jan Wenner. Once upon a time we had vibrant music that shoook the foundations of society, that inspired the masses, that boldly skirted The Edge and lifted our collective consciousness. The good writers seemed to sense this and tried to weave their commentaries on musi ...more
Tom
I hadn't read this since the hardcover was brand new, which means I hadn't read it since Clinton was president, which meant yikes, the last piece, added to the paperback, in which Marcus imagines two different outcomes to the 2000 election and the ensuing presidencies, was a hell of a downer.

It also meant that this turned out to be a crazy trip down memory lane, particularly as the book moved toward the impeachment years. In much the way visiting the Clinton Library allowed for the strange exper
...more
Michiel
Once again, a difficult book to rate, for it's subject is a bit dated by now, and it's a collection of columns/reviews, not a book crafted to work as a whole. But Greil Marcus' main strength is the fact that he likes to work a big canvas, but at the same time is capable of finding details that illustrate his original views on culture (for instance his column about Carl Perkins' 'Blue Suede Shoes'.)
If anything, the book is more about Clinton than it is about Elvis, and though the back-cover stat
...more
Mark
Currently re-reading. At its best, this collection traces mysterious, hidden histories in sharp new ways. It floats gimmicky hypothoses and half-truths into flickering histories. Transient pop moments gain mythical importance, but never the ones you think, and rarely in a numbing Rolling Stone/Hall of Fame way.

Marcus helps me agree with my own belief that the tawdry entertainments of our time (music, TV, film, the internet, games of various descriptions) are also the height of human endeavour.
...more
Andrew
The only great art in America is its music. And I don't necessarily consider music to be art. It doesn't have to be.
Paul Wilner
The Clinton piece is astonishing.
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Greil Marcus is the author of Mystery Train (1975), Lipstick Traces (1989), The Shape of Things to Come (2006), When that Rough God Goes Riding and Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus (both 2010), and other books. With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America (2009). In recent years he has taught at Berkeley, Princeton, Minnesota, NYU, and the New School in New York. He lives in ...more
More about Greil Marcus...
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads Ranters and Crowd Pleasers: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-1992

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