To the editors,
The hype phrase “Rolling Stone rewrites history,” which graced the top of the June 6 Reader cover, misrepresents J.R. Jones’s enclosed Rock, Etc. article–much like Jones himself misrepresents a dozen album reviews culled from old issues of the magazine to make his “now and then” case against its recent essential rock collection feature.
Or perhaps I missed where Rolling Stone claims it actually writes history with each new issue. I’ve always assumed it merely tries to cover the rock scene in its imitable hip manner. Anyway, last time I checked, rating records on a star system or labeling some of them “essential” isn’t the same as writing, or rewriting, history.
That’s not to say any old issue of the rag in question doesn’t offer the rock researcher an invaluable slice of historical context. But our man Jones fails to provide any context at all, save giving the year, to accompany the “then” quotes he extracts from the old album reviews. Obviously the Reader can’t reproduce entire back issues of another magazine, though that would be the most accurate way for Jones to have us reexamine the opinions of the original reviewers he’s quoting. Space wouldn’t even allow reprinting those reviews in their entirety, though it’d be a whole lot fairer to their writers than Jones’s hatchet job.
But then he doesn’t even name any writer he quotes. That leaves us to assume Jones thinks they were all essentially writing whatever Rolling Stone wanted them to write, without a sense of individual integrity or perspective. Obviously that’s absurd. Being a rock writer himself, you’d think Jones would balk at making such a cheap shot, even if his target is silly ol’ Rolling Stone.