Bookforum Editors

  • interviews March 07, 2012

    Ellen Willis Roundtable with Sasha Frere-Jones, Emily Gould, and Sara Marcus

    Last Spring, the University of Minnesota Press published Out of the Vinyl Deeps, a collection of critic Ellen Willis’s music writings. Willis became the first pop music critic for the New Yorker in 1968, earning the post on the strength of an essay about Bob Dylan she wrote for Commentary,which caught the eye of William Shawn. She held the post until 1975, filing deeply insightful articles about the Velvet Underground, Elvis in Vegas, Woodstock, and her beloved Rolling Stones.Bookforum invited three writers who continue to find inspiration in Willis’s work—New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution, and Emily Gould—to talk about Willis’s writing and legacy.

    Last Spring, the University of Minnesota Press published Out of the Vinyl Deeps, a collection of critic Ellen Willis’s music writings. Willis became the first pop music critic for the New Yorker in 1968, earning the post on the strength of an essay about Bob Dylan she wrote for Commentary,which caught the eye of William Shawn. She held the post until 1975, filing deeply insightful articles about the Velvet Underground, Elvis in Vegas, Woodstock, and her beloved Rolling Stones.

    She was a force in the nascent field of pop criticism, setting precedents that music critics still look to today. But