Robert Christgau : biography
Robert Christgau (born April 18, 1942) is an American essayist, music journalist, and self-proclaimed "Dean of American Rock Critics".
One of the earliest professional rock critics, Christgau is known for his terse capsule reviews, published since 1969 in his Consumer Guide columns. He also spent 37 years as music editor for The Village Voice, during which time he created the annual Pazz & Jop poll.
Christgau grew up in New York City, where he says he became a rock and roll fan when disc jockey Alan Freed moved to the city in 1954.Christgau, Robert (2004), "A Counter in Search of a Culture". Any Old Way You Choose It, Cooper Square Press, p.2. He left New York for four years to attend Dartmouth College, graduating in 1962 with a B.A. in English. While at college Christgau's musical interests turned to jazz, but he quickly returned to rock after moving back to New York.
He initially wrote short stories, before giving up fiction in 1964 to become a sportswriter, and later, a police reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger.Christgau, Robert (2004), "A Counter in Search of a Culture". Any Old Way You Choose It, Cooper Square Press, p.4. Christgau became a freelance writer after a story he wrote about the death of a woman in New Jersey was published by New York magazine. He was asked to take over the dormant music column at Esquire, which he began writing in early 1967. After Esquire discontinued the column, Christgau moved to The Village Voice in 1969, and he also worked as a college professor.
In early 1972, he accepted a full-time job as music critic for Newsday. Christgau returned to the Village Voice in 1974 as music editor. He remained there until August 2006, when he was fired shortly after the paper's acquisition by New Times Media.Rosen, Judy (September 5, 2006), "". Slate.com. Retrieved August 15, 2009. Two months later, Christgau became a contributing editor at Rolling Stone (which first published his review of Moby Grape's "Wow" in 1968). Late in 2007, Christgau was fired by Rolling Stone,Christgau, Robert (March 27, 2009), "". ARTicles. Retrieved March 4, 2010 although he continued to work for the magazine for another three months. Starting with the March 2008 issue, he joined Blender, where he was listed as "senior critic" for three issues and then "contributing editor."Blender, June 2008, p. 16 Christgau had been a regular contributor to Blender before he joined Rolling Stone. He continued to write for Blender until the magazine ceased publication in March 2009.
Christgau has also written frequently for Playboy, Spin, and Creem.
He previously taught during the formative years of the California Institute of the Arts. As of 2005, he was also an adjunct professor in the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University.
Christgau is perhaps best known for his Consumer Guide columns, which have been published on a more-or-less monthly basis since 1969, in the Village Voice, as well as a brief period at Newsday. In December 2006, the column moved online to MSN Music, initially appearing every other month, before switching to a monthly schedule in June 2007. In its original format, the Consumer Guide consisted of 18 to 20 single-paragraph album reviews, each of which was given a letter grade ranging from A+ to E-. "Christgau's blurbs", writes Slate music critic Jody Rosen, "are like no one else's – dense with ideas and allusions, first-person confessions and invective, highbrow references and slang."
In 1990, Christgau changed the format of the Consumer Guide; it now contains six to eight reviews graded upper-B+ or higher, one "Dud of the Month" review graded B or lower, and three lists: Honorable Mention (B+ albums deemed not worthy of full-paragraph reviews), Choice Cuts (excellent tracks on un-recommended albums), and Duds. For several years, there were two annual Consumer Guide columns which strayed from this format: The Turkey Shoot (typically published the week of Thanksgiving), which consisted entirely of reviews graded B- or lower, and a Christmas-season roundup of compilations and reissues, mostly graded A or A+. Both have been discontinued.
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