John Corbett - "Pick Up the Pieces" - Matthew Goulish

Saturday, April 13, 2019 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
John Corbett

This is a love cry. A cornucopia of zappy chapters, dedicated to the question as to what ‘70s music means. Deliciously nonpartisan, curious, open-eared, Corbett honors cross-pollinating musical fusions in a fleet, polymorphous prose that wears great knowledge lightly. There are bits of memoir here—but no dull autobiographical trudge. There are famous names—but deep obscurants, too. Above all: no yawnsome retreads of ye olde rock lore. It helps that Corbett’s right about everything. "Pick Up the Pieces" is another gem in a maverick diadem.” —Lars Iyer, philosopher and author of Wittgenstein Jr. and the trilogy Spurious, Dogma, and Exodus.

John Corbett discusses Pick Up the Pieces. He will be joined in conversation by Matthew Goulish. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At the Co-op 

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: Unless you lived through the 1970s, it seems impossible to understand it at all. Drug delirium, groovy fashion, religious cults, mega corporations, glitzy glam, hard rock, global unrest—from our 2018 perspective, the seventies are often remembered as a bizarre blur of bohemianism and disco. With Pick Up the Pieces, John Corbett transports us back in time to this thrillingly tumultuous era through a playful exploration of its music. Song by song, album by album, he draws our imaginations back into one of the wildest decades in history. Rock. Disco. Pop. Soul. Jazz. Folk. Funk. The music scene of the 1970s was as varied as it was exhilarating, but the decade’s diversity of sound has never been captured in one book before now. Pick Up the Pieces gives a panoramic view of the era’s music and culture through seventy-eight essays that allow readers to dip in and out of the decade at random or immerse themselves completely in Corbett’s chronological journey. An inviting mix of skilled music criticism and cultural observation, Pick Up the Pieces is also a coming-of-age story, tracking the author’s absorption in music as he grows from age seven to seventeen. Along with entertaining personal observations and stories, Corbett includes little-known insights into musicians from Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, James Brown, and Fleetwood Mac to the Residents, Devo, Gal Costa, and Julius Hemphill. A master DJ on the page, Corbett takes us through the curated playlist that is Pick Up the Pieces with captivating melody of language and powerful enthusiasm for the era. This funny, energetic book will have readers longing nostalgically for a decade long past.

About the author: John Corbett is a writer, curator, and producer based in Chicago. He is co-owner of Corbett vs. Dempsey, an art gallery. Corbett is the author of several books, including Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein (Duke U. Press, 1994), Microgroove: Forays into Other Music (Duke, 2015), A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium (Duke, 2017), and Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music (University of Chicago, 2019).  As an essayist and reviewer, Corbett has written for numerous academic and commercial publications, including DownBeat, The Wire, The Chicago Reader, The Chicago Tribune, NKA, Bomb, LitHub, and Lapham’s Quarterly.  Corbett has edited or co-edited many books, including several on the musicians Sun Ra and Peter Brötzmann, as well as the 125 books and catalogs that his gallery, Corbett vs. Dempsey, has produced, and he has contributed to major museum monographs on artists including Jim Lutes, Charline Von Heyl, Christopher Wool, Albert Oehlen, and Sadie Benning, and essays on artists Rachel Harrison for the Art Institute of Chicago and Bob Thompson for the Museum of Modern Art, NY.  Corbett’s work as a music producer includes his label, the Unheard Music Series, which existed from 1999-2006, and Corbett vs. Dempsey, an ongoing label issuing CDs of new and historical jazz, experimental music and improvised music. In 2002, Corbett was invited to be guest artistic director of JazzFest Berlin, and he co-produced the Empty Bottle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music as well as a weekly series of concerts at the club of the same name. He has organized many musical events and festivals, most recently a series at the Art Institute of Chicago and stand-alone events at the Guggenheim Museum of Art, NYC, and the Menil Collection, Houston. As a curator, Corbett has been involved in many exhibitions at museums including the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago (Monster Roster: Existentialist Art in Postwar Chicago, 2016), the Tang Teaching Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY (3-D Doings: The Imagist Object in Chicago Art, 1964-1980), Sullivan Galleries, the School of the Art Institute, Chicago (Touch and Go: Ray Yoshida and his Spheres of Influence, 2010), and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (Pathways to Unknown Worlds: Sun Ra, El Saturn, and Chicago’s Afro-Futurist Underground, 2009).  Corbett taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1988 to 2014.     

About the interlocutor: Matthew Goulish co-founded Goat Island in 1987, and Every House Has a Door in 2008. His 39 Microlectures—In Proximity of Performance was published by Routledge in 2000, and Small Acts of Repair—Performance, Ecology, and Goat Island, which he co-edited with Stephen Bottoms, in 2007. He was awarded a Lannan Foundation Writers Residency in 2004, and in 2007 he received an honorary Ph.D. from Dartington College of Arts, University of Plymouth. Goulish is Provocations editor for The Drama Review, and he teaches in the MFA and BFA Writing Programs of the The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL