Nine Questions

Stephen Thomas Erlewine

One of pop music's most knowledgeable critics, Stephen Thomas Erlewine has been involved with Allmusic since its inception, editing and writing a series of record guides in the '90s and 2000s, and is a senior editor for Rovi. Erlewine has also written liner notes for Raven Records and Sony/Legacy. He currently lives in Austin, Texas.

What was the first concert you attended?

Huey Lewis & The News with Duke Jupiter opening at the Castle in Charlevoix, Mich. Not only was it my first concert, it was my first experience with hating an opening band.

What are you listening to these days?

The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 12B: 1972, the Kinks' Muswell Hillbillies, Haim's Days Are Gone and Brandy Clark's 12 Songs.

What was the first album you owned?

Juice Newton's Juice. "Queen Of Hearts" is about as perfect as a song gets.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone seem to love, but you just don't get?

For me, Bob Marley and Frank Zappa. I appreciate the influence of both but whenever I try to listen to one of their records I start to crawl out of my skin.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Easy: Rockpile, sometime between 1979 and 1980, when they were riding high on the success of Nick Lowe's Labour Of Lust and Dave Edmunds' Repeat When Necessary.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

I don't really believe in the concept of guilty pleasures ... and I've been enthusiastic in supporting bubblegum pop, Rick Springfield, yacht rock and teen pop in the past.

What song would you like to have played at your funeral?

Paul McCartney's "Press."

What band or artist changed your life, and how?

There are many but I'll go with R.E.M. One Sunday night when I was 13, a local radio station played all Life's Rich Pageant. I taped it and became obsessed. It was the first record that I discovered on my own and it opened the doors to many other sounds.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Today, it's a tie between Steely Dan's Gaucho and Blur's Parklife. Both create worlds I never get tired of revisiting.

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