Radical Inquiry: NYT on 'The Essential Ellen Willis'

By Carlene Bauer
New York Times Book Review

Willis_Essential cover“I love Ellen Willis,” a friend told me upon hearing there would be an anthology collecting the work of the cultural critic, who was also The New Yorker’s first pop music writer. “She makes me feel less embarrassed to enjoy the Who.”

What is embarrassing about the Who? Guitars bashed, exploding drum kits. Come to think of it, guitars, period. Songs that are insistently melodic, which signals a fundamental optimism, which is to say a terminal uncoolness. Anthems about their generation, which celebrate the fiction of collective transcendence, of freedom achieved through rock music.

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