Staff Lists: Holiday Gift Guide from Pitchfork

By Pitchfork
Pitchfork Media

Willis_Out coverWith the publication of Out of the Vinyl Deeps, one of 2011's most celebrated music books, the late Ellen Willis joined writers like Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs in the top tier of the rock critic canon. The book collects reviews and essays by Willis, who was the pop critic for the The New Yorker in the early 1970s, and brings her razor-sharp intellect and lucid prose to bear on pieces that touch on politics, feminism, sociology, the post-Woodstock scene, and more. Willis' identity as a woman in a male-dominated field as well as an unabashed rock fan animated her music writing; she was a bohemian, a punk, a New Yorker, a philosopher, a "seeker of enlightenment (and love) (and sex)." She championed rock over other musical forms, she said, because "it has a lot more to do with my life," and she had a deep understanding of human behavior, getting to the core of her subjects by studying her own responses. These essays are packed with insights and will have you hearing the music in question differently. Above all, the pieces are defined by Willis' obsession with the idea of freedom, and her dedication to the potency of liberation. --Jenn Pelly

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