Christgau’s style is honest and wholly personal. As he says, “Any critic who wrote about music as if he/she were no longer a fan—or who was no longer a fan—was shirking all the fun.”
Of his own writings, he notes: “My strictly musical analyses tended to be brief and non-technical . . . My criticism bordered on journalism and sociology because I wrote about everything people responded to when they heard music—lyric and melody and rhythm and timbre first, of course, but also the context in which they heard it . . . ”
Some imaginative essays result from this philosophy. Take, for example, “In Memory of the Dave Clark Five,” which has little to do with the defunct quintet. A rambling essay/diary of the writer’s cross-country trip to see a girlfriend, it puts the music Christgau heard along the way into the context of a personal experience—which is where I think music rightly belongs.
Any Old Way You Choose It (the title borrowed from a line in Chuck Berry’s “Rock and Roll Music”) is everything a rock book should be because it does what Christgau says the music should do: “both provide subtle stimulation and give ’em what they paid for.”