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Jul 21, 2014

I cannot tell a lie – or at least not too many – I let my Rolling Stone magazine subscription end around the same time my Playboy magazine subscription expired about a decade ago. My hearing took a beating over the years – probably not helped by my own stint as a rock music critic in the 1980s and standing too close to one too many heavy metal hair bands in concert – and live shows lost their appeal. That’s what happened to my interest in Rolling Stone.

ANTHONY DeCURTIS podcast excerpt: "Being a staff writer at Rolling Stone magazine was a job and it was a hard one. But when Kurt Cobain died, for example, we all gathered in the managing editor's office. There were staff rivalries there, a number of egos knocking around, but when you looked around the room, you knew nobody had to carry anybody else's water. Everybody could hit the story hard."

As for Playboy – well, just how many articles can you really read before succumbing to the photos? And once you’ve seen two in every size, shape, race and ethnicity, well... Or maybe it’s low T? I dunno. (Let’s save that for the next special episode of Mr. Media Interviews.)

But the one characteristic of both magazines that I enjoyed for decades was the writing. And if you read Rolling Stone over the last 30 years, you can’t help but know the work of my guest today, writer and contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis. His writing was always crisp, his questions the ones you wanted answered, and his ubiquity across a range of topics from issue to issue only reinforced his smarts. DeCurtis is still connected to the magazine, but he has broadened his scope in recent years. Last year he co-authored The Soundtrack of My Life, the memoir of record label legend Clive Davis; this year he is working on a biography of the late Lou Reed. And he won a Grammy Award for his liner notes on Eric Clapton’s Crossroads box set and wrote an introduction for an upcoming book of Clapton photos called Journeyman.

ANTHONY DeCURTIS podcast excerpt: "Even to this day, as a journalist, when I'm in the room with my interview subject, there's a little bit of tension--even if it's somebody I've written about a lot--there's a slight adversarial thing. Whereas that doesn't seem to exist with photographers for the most part. They're always palling around and artists like them. It's very lovey-dovey by comparison."

He also wrote introductions to two more photo collections: one by rock star Lenny Kravitz and one by photographer Deborah Feingold titled Music. (Feingold will be on this show in September, by the way.) And he’s been on the nominating committee for the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame for 20 years. Oh, and since 2002, DeCurtis has been a writing instructor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences. I hope I can think of a few good questions!

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