When: Thu., Aug. 21, 7:30 p.m. 2014
When Greil Marcus saw The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, rock ‘n’ roll was hardly as old as a surly teenager, and professional criticism thereof was basically nonexistent. Nevertheless, by 1968, Marcus had edited a compendium of writing on the genre, released as Rock ‘n’ Roll Will Stand, which initiated his staggering critical career. Historically exacting and ruminative, Marcus’ writing catalogues details and leaps wildly between disparate cultural moments to seize their elusive bond. His latest book, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs — from which Marcus reads this week at Pegasus Books Solano (1855 Solano Ave., Berkeley) — finds him in the latter mode. As in his must-read endnotes for the essay collection Stranded, Marcus revels in the minutiae of single songs. He respects their mysterious allure, too — creating prose that reflects their enigmatic and often inexplicable emotional pull. The opening chapter goes out to The Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some Action,” so Cyril Jordan is bringing a guitar to the reading.