Selected writings on three decades of popular music from one of the most influential critics of his generation.
Spanning three decades worth of astute, acerbic, and overall astounding music writing, Kick Out the Jams is the first large-scale anthology of the work of renowned critic Dave Marsh. Ranging from Elvis Presley to Kurt Cobain, from Nina Simone to Ani DiFranco, from the Beatles to Green Day, the book gives an opinionated, eye-opening overview of 20th century popular music—offering a portrait not just of an era but of a writer wrestling with the American empire.
Every essay bears the distinct Dave Marsh attitude and voice. That passion is evident in a heart-wrenching piece on Cobain’s suicide and legacy; a humorous attack on “Bono’s bullshit;” an indignant look at James Brown and the FBI; deep, revelatory probes into the work of underappreciated artists like Patty Griffin and Alejandro Escovedo; and inspiring insight into what drives Marsh as a writer, namely “a raging passion to explain things in the hope that others would not be trapped and to keep the way clear so that others from the trashy outskirts of barbarous America still had a place to stand—if not in the culture at large, at least in rock and roll.”
If you want to explore the recent history of pop music—its politics as well as its performers—Kick Out the Jams is the perfect guidebook.
About the Author
Dave Marsh was among the first editors of Creem magazine and wrote extensively for Rolling Stone and other publications. He has authored twenty-five books, including two bestselling biographies of Bruce Springsteen, Before I Get Old: The Story of the Who, and The Heart of Rock & Soul: the 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. Marsh cofounded the newsletter Rock & Rap Confidential and currently hosts Kick Out the Jams and other programs on SiriusXM.
"Dennis Boutsikaris performs this selection of essays published between 1982 and 2017 with a driving energy that sounds exactly right for Dave Marsh’s smart-alecky writing. Boutsikaris’s quick pacing and assertive diction infuse the listening with the same immediacy that makes Marsh’s arresting opinions so entertaining and thought provoking. Marsh is a nuanced observer of the people and cultural trends that have impacted the way rock, rap, punk, and other music genres evolved over the past 50 or 60 years. He holds back nothing, criticizing artists, radio DJs, unscrupulous industry executives, and meddling politicians while grappling with the uncomfortable direction the country was going. For anyone fascinated with American pop music and the culture at large, this is an essential audio guide from a preeminent music writer." — AudioFile Magazine
"Kick Out the Jams should restore [Marsh] to his rightful place in the pantheon of America's very greatest music writers." —Jack Hamilton, Slate
“I regarded Dave Marsh as a teacher right away. With Dave, it’s emotional, it’s personal. He draws people together on an emotional as well as an intellectual level.” —Jackson Browne
"Not only is Dave Marsh a great writer, a great person, life-giving lover, a great friend, and a wordsmith, but he has great insight into the music business, connecting the dots, defining things for me." —Dion
“One of the striking things about Dave Marsh, right off the bat, is his emotional involvement. It’s fun to sit down and talk with him about music.” —Patty Griffin
“Dave Marsh has always been a tireless advocate of justice, human rights, and rock’n’roll. His pen and voice are an important player in the history of the music we love and the struggle for a more just and decent world.” —Tom Morello
“Dave Marsh has always been vociferously a champion of equal rights in music writing and of viewing music outside of the segregationist categories formed by the music industry and too often the music press. He’s just a great writer.” —Ann Powers, author of Weird Like Us and Good Booty
“I connected to Dave because I knew he felt about music the way I felt about it. It was life sustaining. It was central to your existence.” —Bruce Springsteen
“The impact of Dave Marsh seeped into my critical consciousness early on. He was the kind of leader in the field who pushed to see the critical conversation be democratized and inclusive and incredibly diverse.” —Greg Tate, author of Flyboy in the Buttermilk
“Dave was just full on, 100%, tying together art and politics, which of course are really tethered anyway. He was the embodiment of that.” —Steven Van Zandt
“Throughout [Kick Out the Jams], Marsh’s deep passion for the music and the artists he writes about provides a bassline of energy and excitement. The author breathes new insight into well-known artists and provides avenues of discovery for new music while maintaining humor and heart…Heartfelt and often amusing, these essays will have you reaching into your record collection to listen with fresh ears.” —Kirkus Reviews