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Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll: Fourth Edition
by Greil Marcus
ISBN 0452278368 / 9780452278363 / 0-452-27836-8
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More than 20 years after its initial publication, Mystery Train remains one of the smartest, most provocative books ever written about rock-and-roll. Marcus puts his subjects--which include Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley, The Band, Randy Newman, and Sly Stone--into their proper context, which is the culture-at-large. He makes you understand why these musicians matter, and what they've contributed to the American imagination. In his introduction, Marcus confesses that he's no longer "capable of mulling over Elvis without thinking about Herman Melville"--to the benefit, I might add, of both parties. [via]