Ken Tucker
August 06, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

You Call It Madness

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Lenny Kaye
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it an A

Lenny Kaye — poet, rock critic, guitarist for Patti Smith for three decades — has written a gorgeously authoritative history of crooning reaching back to the 1930s in You Call It Madness. Beginning with Russ Columbo, moving on through Rudy Vallee and Bing Crosby, and including surprises like Iggy Pop (”in the lower registers, the horse latitudes of melody”), Kaye delivers scholarship through daringly impressionistic prose that can even describe crucial sounds: ”Yoo hoo. Boo hoo. The double o of crooning. A circle squared. Times two, or should we say too …” Entrancing.

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