Rock critic lectures on music

'Rolling Stone' editor Anthony DeCurtis visited Kelly Writers House, but got mixed reviews.

The Daily Pennsylvanian
February 22, 2002

Another acclaimed writer visited the Kelly Writers House this week.

But this one was not there to discuss poetry or prose -- he was there for rock and roll.

On Tuesday afternoon, music critic Anthony DeCurtis spoke to about 25 people in the front room of the Writers House. The crowd included Penn students, professors and local music lovers.

DeCurtis is an editor of Rolling Stone magazine, host of an internet music show and the author of Rocking My Life Away: Writing About Music and Other Matters. He won a Grammy Award for his essay accompanying Eric Clapton's Crossroads box set and contributes to many other publications as well.

DeCurtis appeared very prepared for the lecture. He took the podium armed with a pad of notes and a pitcher of water.

However, some felt that DeCurtis's speech lacked focus.

College sophomore Daniel Kaplan was so disappointed with DeCurtis that he left the event early.

"He was a writer so pleased with himself and his accomplishments that he seemed to forget that speeches are supposed to be coherent," Kaplan said.

Philadelphia resident Hop Wechsler, however, was a little bit more forgiving.

"I guess I was expecting more about how he got where he is," Wechsler said. "But what I got was fun for what it was."

English Department Chairman David Wallace introduced DeCurtis. Wallace knows DeCurtis personally through the music community and admires his work.

"I like the way DeCurtis' career has panned out -- making a hobby into a way to make a living," Wallace said.

DeCurtis did manage to get across to the audience his reservations about quantitatively rating music.

"Interpreting the star ratings is no easier than interpreting the actual review," he said. "I'm more interested in exploring complexities rather than making a definitive conclusion."

DeCurtis emphasized the relationship between music and real life.

"The question is, 'Is there something here for people... and why are they gripped by this?'" he said.

Finally, DeCurtis encouraged young writers to find their passion and write about what they love.

Wallace said he hoped DeCurtis' story was encouraging for young writers. And according to some, it was.

"His positive attitude and enthusiasm for his career was really inspiring," College freshman Carly Greenberg said.