Alex Ross’s award-winning international bestseller, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, has become a contemporary classic, establishing Ross as one of our most popular and acclaimed cultural historians. Listen to This, which takes its title from a beloved 2004 essay in which Ross describes his late-blooming discovery of pop music, showcases the best of his writing from more than a decade at The New Yorker. These pieces, dedicated to classical and popular artists alike, are at once erudite and lively.
In a previously unpublished essay, Ross brilliantly retells hundreds of years of music history—from Renaissance dances to Led Zeppelin—through a few iconic bass lines of celebration and lament. He vibrantly sketches canonical composers such as Schubert, Verdi, and Brahms; gives us in-depth interviews with modern pop masters such as Björk and Radiohead; and introduces us to music students at a Newark high school and indie-rock hipsters in Beijing.
Whether his subject is Mozart or Bob Dylan, Ross shows how music expresses the full complexity of the human condition. Witty, passionate, and brimming with insight, Listen to This teaches us how to listen more closely.
“The triumph of Listen to This is that Ross dusts off music that’s centuries old to reveal the passion and brilliance that’s too often hidden from a contemporary audience. It’s a joy for a pop fan or a classical aficionado.”-New York Times Review of Books
“Even at his most cerebral, Ross deftly draws in the ears of the seasoned and the uninitiated alike, demystifying the traditions of music while celebrating its ability to transform. . . Listen to This is undeniably essential.”-Doyle Armbrust, Time Out Chicago
“A collection of supremely eloquent essays, addressing a range of subjects from Bach to Björk.”-Jeremy A. Eichler, The Boston Globe