Author(s): Ben Ratliff
From one of America's celebrated critics, the definitive field guide to listening to music in the age of the Cloud. The most significant revolution in the recent history of music has to do with listening: it is now possible to listen to nearly anything at any time, to ignore albums, and to instantly flit across genres and generations, from 1980s Detroit techno to 1890s Viennese neo-romanticism. Yet music criticism has historically focused on the musician's intent, not the listener's experience. Every Song Ever is therefore the definitive field guide to listening in an age of glorious, overwhelming abundance. By revealing the essential similarities between wildly different kinds of music, Ben Ratliff shows how we listen to music now, and suggests how we can listen better.
Every Song Ever jumps into the grand adventure of losing yourself in music, at a time when the technology boundaries have blown wide open. Ratliff brilliantly makes connections between the arcane and the everyday, pointing to sounds you've never heard - as well as finding new pleasures in music you thought you'd already used up -- Rob Sheffield, author of 'Love Is A Mix Tape' and 'Turn Around Bright Eyes' Everyone knows we live in an age when most people can listen to anything, anytime, anywhere. Whether that's depressing or mind-expanding depends ultimately on what kind of attention we pay. Ben Ratliff has the gifts to help us surf this wave of sonic information, not stand there mumbling at it in a grumpy-grampy way. After all, it's presumably not going to end until the electrical grid does -- John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of 'Pulphead' This is a book about one exemplary listener's love for how many ways music can mean, set in sentences as forceful and subtle as Elvin Jones. Slayer and Shostakovich, Ali Akbar Khan and the Allman Brothers - none of them are the same once Ben Ratliff's ears get through with them. And your ears won't be the same once you get through Every Song Ever -- Michael Robbins, author of 'Alien vs. Predator' and 'The Second Sex' In this insightful guide to contemporary music appreciation, genre limitations are off the table ... Ratliff's scholarship shines; there's a lot to be said for a book on music appreciation that can draw apt parallels between DJ Screw and Bernstein's rendition of Mahler's ninth symphony Publishers Weekly It's fascinating how Ratliff can bring a fresh ear to such familiar music ... [he] makes unlikely connections that will encourage music fans to listen beyond categorical distinctions and comfort zones Kirkus Reviews [Ratliff] has a knack for articulating how a song works ... A model of music appreciation that feels engaged and expansive ... [Every Song Ever] reignites our sense of longing for connection, allowing us to roam more consciously through the infinite channels online. We find new sources of energy and essence in places we never thought to look. We listen, as if for the first time, and take pleasure in the search again Bookforum
Ben Ratliff has been a music critic for The New York Times since 1996. His book Coltrane: The Story of a Sound was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He lives with his wife and two sons in the Bronx.