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

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  184 ratings  ·  27 reviews
"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 todayâs avant folk scene what Greil Marcus did for Dylan and The Basement Tapes. Amanda Petrusich
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 19th 2008 by Faber & Faber
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3.5 stars -- some interesting chapters, but fairly uneven overall.
I'm only on page 81, but so far, so good.

Amanda Petrusich gives the reader a condensed, yet unnarrow, view of the heartland of American music. From Mississippi to Memphis and from New York to Nashville Amanda explores where the origins of blues, folk, and country stemmed from and why we should never forget them. Throughout the first few chapters this reader has detected a slight bitterness toward the indie culture and the people associated with it. She makes unambiguous notations written between
Tom Choi
I've been an admirer of Amanda Petrusich's writings on music for some time but I must admit to being a bit perplexed and deeply disappointed by this book.

American roots music is a messy affair with its hazy origins, kooky cast of characters, and is steeped in its metaphorical dance with the Devil, the Devil being big business, white, urban culture, and the rise of mass media. Petrusich seems to be content in recounting the general story of American roots music but otherwise seems to be averse t
[From the inside cover:] "Part travelogue. Part musical history. '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..." Close enough anyw ...more
Half a travelogue and half a history of Americana music "It Still Moves" never fully comes together, despite being a very entertaining read.

The broadness of of the subject matter ensures that no subject will be covered in too much depth. As is to be expected, certain chapters--the ones covering Woody Guthrie, the Carter Family, Sun Studios, and the Anthology of American Folk Music--shine. These are well-written, well-researched, and fascinating to read.

On the other hand, the chapter on alt-cou
Desiree Koh
If you're into the history of American music, as I am, and learning about their provenance in the roots of folk, blues, bluegrass and country, this is a pretty easy going 101 into how it all came about. How Elvis stepped up to the Sun Studios mic, how Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil on Highway 61, how Ledbelly busted out of jail and how Johnny Cash stomped across a Folsom Prison stage.

The premise is cool, and made me want to jump into my truck and go back to Memphis and Nashville to e
Patrick Brown
Oct 03, 2008 Patrick Brown rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: somebody looking for a good history of American popular music
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm going to be slightly unfair with this review, as I think in reality this book is much better than a "two star" book. That rating means "It was okay," and for what I was looking for, that's precisely what it was. It isn't fair to the author, who is probably reading this and developing a slow-boiling rage (or, more likely, not reading this at all), but this wasn't the book I thought it was going to be. I wanted a book that focused primarily on contemporary Americana music, and this book is muc ...more
A bit more enjoyable than Amanda Petrusich's previous book (an entertaining but too-brief 33 1/3 entry regarding Nick Drake's seminal Pink Moon), It Still Moves was a surprisingly straightforward retelling of the history of American roots music, referred to throughout as Americana. Also a travelogue of sorts, she hits the expected spots like Memphis, Nashville, Graceland and Clinch Mountain, physically exploring the areas where this music was birthed, but also examining the philosophical points ...more
Fun travel book about visiting places where American roots music originates. The author, an East Coast urban dweller, decides to take a road trip through America's heartland to examine up-close the places that inspired blues, folk music, country, and rock n' roll. The book reads more like a travel book, describing the cheap diners where she eats and the post cards she buys along the way, than it does a history book. It's freshly-written and very personal.

Reading this book made me want to do a mu
Yowza! <-- means I enjoyed it. I actually bought this book for someone else and then promptly borrowed it and read it myself. The writing style (especially coming right after reading Susan Jacoby) seems to borrow rather heavily from blog-writing, but that might just be because Petrusich is young and hip, and I'm old and square. (Then again she writes with some dismay about gentrifying hipsters invading her Brooklyn neighborhood, which made me roll my eyes at her. Please, youngster.) Anyone wh ...more
John Benson
I enjoyed this book because she wrote very well with nice twists of phrases, had travel parts that let me explore areas of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia that I did not know well, and helped me understand the roots of folk, blues, bluegrass and country music, all types of music that I enjoy.
Diann Blakely
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 it's a ba ...more
Very cool look at the modern music scene (as of '08, anyway). Well written and fun.
I would probably give it two and a half stars if I could. I really enjoyed some sections of this book, particularly the places where Petrusich synthesized others research in telling the history of important people and places in American music. But whenever she was describing her contemporary travels, I got bored and disinterested. A lot of the travel writing read like filler.
Amanda Petrusich is a very smart writer who uses her own road trip to frame each chapter on roots/American/country music. I found it to be a good introduction to the music and a compelling read. She treats her subject with love and is rarely condescending (as you might expect from a writer at Pitchfork who lives in Brooklyn).
Great writing, a lot of old ground covered, but through younger eyes (Petrusich writes for Pitchfork). The last couple chapters on contemporary loosely-defined Americana are super, but i do wish she'd gone as deep with those chapters as she does with the road trip that takes her through the first two-thirds of the book.
Not quite what I was expecting, but a good history of "Americana" music. I grew annoyed with details provided by the author about mixing her cup of coffee or what she decided to eat. I think she struggled to find the style with which she was most comfortable, and at times it made the reading disjointed.
She writes for Paste, so it's not surprising that I reacted to this much as I react to Paste every time I read it...the content is of interest to me, but the writing is just so pretentious that it gets in the way.
Aug 24, 2008 Billy marked it as to-read
Well, I know she has good taste in music because I normally read her reviews. Her writing is alright, but I'm not sure if it can sustain a full length book. I guess we'll see.
More about the search than the music, but very enjoyable for what it is. I especially liked the essay on Cracker Barrel.
Like On the road with music-listening-suggestions instead of suggestions on how to be a wasted asshole.
Sadly, not really about lost songs or lost highways, this book is a muddled, boring, hipster mess.
Chris Estey
Whoah, really kicked my ass hard, more than I realized.
A must read! And my wife wrote it.
Fluffily entertaining.
Megan C
Some interesting bits.
More about the search than the music, but interesting and informative for what it is. I especially liked the essay on Cracker Barrel (it fits, really). I recommend it!
Scan Murphy
Scan Murphy marked it as to-read
Nov 19, 2015
Joel Marquard
Joel Marquard marked it as to-read
Nov 08, 2015
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Amanda Petrusich is the author of “Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records” (Scribner; 2014), “It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music” (Faber and Faber; 2008), and “Pink Moon,” an installment in Continuum/Bloomsbury’s acclaimed 33 1/3 series. She is a contributing writer for Pitchfork and a contributing ...more
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