pressive. He has done something thatnmuch needed doing. Conservativenreaders will respond positively to hisnrespectful inclusion of rightist traditions;nhis perceptive appraisal of the New Leftnof the 60’s; his recognition of thencurrent threat of Marxism in the universities;nand his desire, in the face ofnrecent European — particularly Frenchn—influences, to protect and cultivatenour indigenous intellectual traditionsnand national culture. Many readers willnbe either provoked or amused by thenrather cranky personal jibes sprinklednamidst the objective summarizing:n”How much anyone can owe to Bergsonnremains a matter of doubt”; “Libertarianismnmakes little sense until onenhas to listen to Mario Cuomo speak fornten minutes”; “It is not so easy tonascertain whether de Saussure’s statusnarises from the intrinsic quality of hisnwork or the fact that it was French.”nPOP LIFEnWriting on popular music tends to fallninto the three predictable classes ofnhigh-, middle-, and lowbrow, and thenmerit of the writing is inversely proportionalnto the level of seriousness. Interviewsnand celebrity profiles often presentnenough interesting information to justifynan occasional dip—with noseplugs innplace—into Rolling Stone. But whennthe interviewer turns critic, and thencritic begins putting forth “theories,”nthe style degenerates and the informationnbecomes suspect.nOne of the best recent books on popnmusic is the utterly lowbrow Off thenRecord: An Oral History of PopularnMusic, written by the president andnCEO of Capitol Industries-EMI (NewnYork: Warner Books, 429 pp., $22.95).nJoe Smith has been in the music businessnsince the late 1950’s, going fromndisc jockey to promoter to top executive,nand along the way he has got tonknow most of the people who havenmade it on the pop music scene. Thisnvolume of brief interviews, interspersednwith bits of autobiographical comment,nranges from Lionel Hampton and ArtienShaw to Bo Diddley, and Roy Orbisonnto John Mellencamp, Sting, and DavidnLee Roth.nMost of the statements are pointednand informative. Where else would younfind out about a downed aviator whonhad himself rushed to a Duane EddynBut with all its useful informationnand insights, the book has, in my view,ntwo large and rather puzzling deficiencies.nFirst, in glorifying modemism.nCantor fails to recognize that in verynsignificant ways modernism was midwifenfor the birth of the later culturalnconditions that alarm him. He includesnin his list of modernism’s characteristicsnsuch things as self-referentiality, a penchantnfor the fragmented and discordant,nmoral relativism, the priority of art,nand cultural despair; but he fails to recognizentheir inevitable consequences.nModernism was not a paradise now lost;nit was a revolution that generated somendehumanizing tendencies that are stillnineluctably working themselves out. Fornexample, the seeds of deconstructionngerminated in the later writing of JamesnJoyce, and the recently proclaimedndeath of the author was adumbrated innT.S. Eliot’s impersonal theory of poetrynREVISIONSnconcert in Vietnam; or about RoynOrbison’s career as a songwriter—hendidn’t know you got paid every time ansong was played; or that “Alice Cooper,nthe sickest band in America, were allnfour-year lettermen.”nSome of the life histories are poignant.nMost pop singers are, after all,nunintelligent, uneducated, and fromnthe underclass. Their brief moments ofnsuccess are all they have, and whennthat’s gone, so is their life. As Fabiannputs it: “Nobody ever said, ‘Well, gee,nman, this might end.'”nStill useful but unbearably pretentiousnis Mark Ribowsky’s He’s a RebelnThe Truth About Phil Spector—Rocknand Roll’s Legendary Madman (NewnYork: E.R Dutton, 339 pp., $18.75).nRibowsky makes the best case he cannfor Phil Spector as all-around genius.n”The American Wagner,” as Spectornlikes to think of himself, was responsiblenfor the hollow garbage-can sound of theneariy 60’s gid groups, to say nothing ofnthe Righteous Brothers'”You’ve LostnThat Lovin’ Feeling.”nIn truth, Spector is the classic alienatednnerd. A liberal because he was anloser, a loner because nobody couldnstand him, he betrayed everyone whonwas nice to him, and now that he hasnbeen run out of the business, he consolesnhimself with firearms and bodyguards.nEven crazier than Ribowsky arenSimon Frith and Howard Home, whosennnand the “intentional fallacy” of thenNew Critics.nSecond, although Cantor, a professornat New York University, assumes anposture of “conservative humanism” forna survey that includes even some rathernminor figures on the left and right, henmakes no mention whatsoever of IrvingnBabbitt, Paul Elmer More, EricnVoegelin, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk,nor any other figure that might appear asnauthor or subject in Modern Age. HisnNew York provincialism blinds him tonan awareness of a major culturalnperspective — a perspective, incidentally,nthat could have enabled him tonevaluate modernism more penetratingly.nAnd this blind spot cripples hisnuseful synthesis of 20th-century culture.nStephen L. Tanner is a professor ofnEnglish at Brigham Young University.nArf into Pop (New York: Routledge,nChapman & Hall, 206 pp., $38.95)nattempts to chronicle the influence ofnart schools on pop music. The troublenis, most of the influence would seem tonbe the other way around, although thenauthors report the largely unsubstantiatednclaim that “In the late sixties . . .nmajor pop and rock stars thronged Londonngalleries, discussing ideas with artists.”nThe book does have a good deal ofninformation about links between thenbohemian set and avant-garde rock music,nand when they come to people likenDavid Bowie and Lou Reed, they arenon solid ground. Unfortunately, theyndidn’t bother to interview the formernmembers of the Velvet Undergroundnand only seem to know about AndynWarhol through the secondary accountsnof other music writers.nThe reductio ad absurdum of popncriticism is contained in the anthologynCultural Politics in ContemporarynAmerica edited by Ian Argus and SutnJhally (New York: Routledge, Chapmann& Hall, 388 pp., $45). Along withna few sensible pieces by Jean BethkenElshtain and Russell Jacoby, unwarynbuyers will be subjecting themselves tonTodd Gitlin (on “Postmodernism:nRoots and Politics”) among other agingnNew Leftists who got nowhere in politicsnand are now doing to the universitiesnwhat they did to the campus of SannFrancisco State and to the streets ofnChicago. (TF)nAUGUST 1989/39n