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The Birth of Rock and Roll


"Collector and Americana yay-sayer Jim Linderman is an archivist of the obscure. His collections tell vast stories in sotto voce, allowing curios and objects shadowed by mainstream culture and ideology to converse and be heard. What we hear is an enormous American sub-culture speaking in forbidden, marginalized languages: stuff discovered boxed in the attic out of embarrassment or zealotry, smutty ash trays crowing next to religious pamphlets, each claiming a part of the complex, sometimes contradictory, always conflicted American imagination, a chaos of memories that will one day vanish. In The Birth of Rock and Roll, Linderman's arranged a storyboard of sorts that dramatizes the spirit, if not the chronology of rock and roll. Poetically, the photos evoke without naming, and have little to do with conventional iconography of the birth of rock and roll -- i.e., young white men in Memphis, poodle skirts, Alan Freed, Bill Haley's Brylcreem, etc. Instead they document, and celebrate, the pure but indefinable essence of rocking. Ordinary, nameless men, women, and children, some white, some black, are holding guitars and strumming while looking relaxed or frantic, but nearly always blissful. Some of the action takes place in rural fields, some in dance halls, some at civic events, some in living rooms and basements. Wherever there is an urge to make acoustic or electric music -- whether to help at a rent party, busk in front of a crowd, or testify in the name of Jesus -- there's an uncredited photographer there to snap an image" --Joe Bonomo. "I wanted them all to be anonymous, but several were identified, and the Carter Family was included because it is such a lovely snapshot [and it has never been published before now]. I like to think rock and roll emerged from a large collective of unknown folk 'down there' rather than from some stars 'up there'" --Jim Linderman. Includes an introduction by Jim Linderman and an interview with Jim Linderman by Joe Bonomo. Jim Linderman is a writer, art historian, collector, and publisher. He maintains a network of websites on art, photography, and culture. Joe Bonomo is an essayist and music writer. His books include Sweat: The Story of The Fleshtones, America's Garage Band; Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found; and Conversations With Greil Marcus. Book designer: Martin Venezky. 160 pages; 12 x 9.75 inches; 134 images reproduced in full color.