July 3, 2010

R.I.P., Consumer Guide: The Gradebook Closes

Robert Christgau is the greatest critic in the history of popular music. His writing is impeccable, his sentences exciting, his style unmistakable. A Christgau piece emanates intelligence the likes of which I've found in the work of very few critics, not least of all because Christgau has always expressed his opinion, no matter how radically different it might be--and often is--from the General Opinion. He's a brilliant man, an extraodinary writer, and the most important voice in pop music criticism. He's best known for his Consumer Guide columns, which can be found at his website, in which he reviews a stunning amount of new releases, grades them on a scale of "A" to "E," and then writes a brief spiel about each record. Following the sentences in Christgau's Consumer Guide is like following the flame toward a stick of dynamite--and the best part is the explosion happens in one's own mind. He's been writing these Consumer Guides every single month since July 1969.

I have no shortage of praise for this guy, obviously. I admire him like I admire few writers, and I love every second of his writing. Christgau published his final Consumer Guide, July 2010, two days ago via MSN. That's it. He's done. He still writes a column for Barnes & Noble, and records pieces for N.P.R., and he writes delightful pieces for the N.A.J.P. blog, but his magnum opus, the Consumer Guide--it's done. I highly recommend you check out not only this month's Consumer Guide, but that you visit Mr. Christgau's website as well, via the link above, and read as much of his writing as you can. If you visit his work loose-of-mind, I think you'll be the better for it.