Real Punks Don’t Wear Black

Music Writing by Frank Kogan

Between middle school and the ivory tower lies the truth about pop music

Reviews

"If Frank Kogan had assembled his writing a decade ago, by samizdat or whatever, it would be a cornerstone by now, read by every current and former teenage malcontent."
—Luc Sante, author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

"Doesn't this book at least partly fall into the 'academy is doomed/betrayed' genre (albeit way off on its own wing) vis-à-vis 'closing of the american mind'/'tenured radicals'? Certainly one of the questions it persistently seems to be asking is: 'what is college/knowledge for?' Obviously I think Frank Kogan's answer is a bit different from Allan Bloom's. Isn't it also about restoring the grand ambitions and claims for self of ‘60s rock-crit culture/counterculture: refusing to settle for a specialist niche, whether ivory-tower cultstud thinkage or leisure-industry enablage? (I am somewhat projecting my own dreams and hungers onto it for sure.)"
—Mark Sinker, author of if. . . . (BFI Film Classics) and The Rise and Sprawl of Horrible Noise


"Kogan is at his intellectual best when annoying academics like me. I would recommend this book to students and expect any self-defined 'popular music scholar' to have read it."
—Simon Frith, author of Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music

"If there's a book which should make you want to write about (and think about) how you came to music and what you tried to use it for, this is it."
Pitchfork

"Frank Kogan dares you not to listen to music in the context of your life. He knows that dare is impossible, and that in itself puts him head and shoulders above pretty much every other rock critic of the past couple decades. As do his tastes, which are impeccable, even though his format is the farthest thing from a consumer guide. As does the fact that he has more ideas worth stealing than anybody else writing about music; in fact, I kind of hate that this book is coming out, because now everyone will know where I stole all of mine. The book is a mess, full of trap doors, just like the music Frank likes best. He knows none of it is as simple as people pretend."
—Chuck Eddy, author of The Accidental Evolution of Rock'N'Roll: A Misguided Tour through Popular Music and Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe

"Kogan is great, for instance, at explaining the dynamics of punk clubs: why the performers have to insult their audiences or else they're ‘contaminated’ by their acceptance. Unlike most music critics, Kogan's omnivorous, willing to consider music that makes him ‘feel things that I don't want to feel, so I have to rethink who I am, where I place myself.’"
Publishers Weekly

"Kogan—himself part of a distinguishable lineage of committed contrarians which includes Richard Meltzer, Lester Bangs, and Chuck Eddy—laid the intellectual foundations for the ‘Blogging’ era with his interactive fanzine. . . . This first collection of his work promises (and delivers). "
The Independent (UK)

"To label Kogan a music journalist understates the philosophical and exploratory qualities of his verbiage. . . . He draws out pre-conceived notions and puts them under the microscope. It's in this process that Kogan truly shines as not just a critic of music, but of the culture at large. . . . The voice in his head spills out onto the printed page with both style and substance. Witnessing his words in action as they unfold is at once baffling and alluring . . . Any random page throughout the book is an easy entry point. . . . Grasping the linear motion of his writing is not essential to the Kogan experience, but tuning into the drawn-out processes his thoughts follow is the key to unlocking a real punk's true colors."
Creative Loafing

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Description
With relentless analysis and reckless screaming, Frank Kogan has made a career of asking infuriating questions about popular music. A key figure among music critics for his contentious, perceptive writings, Kogan has been contributing to the Village Voice and underground music publications since the early 1970s. The first book-length collection of his writing on music and culture, Real Punks Don't Wear Black samples the best of thirty-plus years of essays, reviews, and rants, and also includes new bits written specifically for this edition.

If you’re after no more than backstage dish or a judgment on whether some song is “good” or “bad,” then look elsewhere. From the Rolling Stones to the New York Dolls, from Mariah Carey to the Ying Yang Twins, through hip-hop, Europop, disco, and metal, Kogan insists on the hard questions: Our popular music is born in flight, chased by fear, and heading toward unattainable glory, he says. Why is this so? What fears, contagions, divisions are we ignoring that our music cannot?

Remember, says Kogan, this is about you, too. Keep your mind alive, your hairstyle in flux, and your tongue sharpened. Whether you’re a gutterpunk or a cultstud geek, you’re a bigger part of the story than you realize. It’s your ideas that you're hearing on the radio, it's your song that gets sung.

Page count: 368 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9.25

 



Paper
List price: $26.95
978-0-8203-2754-9
2/28/2006

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Frank Kogan is the publisher and editor of the fanzine Why Music Sucks. His work has also appeared in the Village Voice, Spin, Radio On, Cometbus, and ilXor.com.