Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Articles [NAJP]

The Return of Deems Taylor

Last fall I called Jim Steinblatt of ASCAP to inquire as to how I might submit for the music licensing organization's venerable Deems Taylor Awards, which recognize special achievement in music writing, both journalism and books. I've submitted many time and only won once, but a guy can dream. So I was alarmed to learn that ASCAP had "suspended" the Deems Taylor the previous year. Putting on my NAJP hat at Steinblatt's suggestion, I wrote a letter to ASCAP that read in part as follows:

Receiving the Deems Taylor was a thrill--my plaque hangs prominently in my dining room right now. But in a sense there was an even bigger thrill in watching Gary Giddins and Francis Davis receive awards for essays I'd edited. . . . . The cutbacks suffered throughout journalism are nowhere more severe than in daily, weekly, and monthly arts writing. Gradually museums and regional theater and music groups are coming to realize that the absence not just of coverage but of well-written, objective, expert, professional coverage is damaging their viability. The thing about the Deems Taylor was that ASCAP always did recognize that. It meant a great deal to the self-esteem and public image of my colleagues and the general respect for the work we do. I hope your ASCAP colleagues will see that in the end the suspension of the award is counterproductive for all of music.

To my delight, it turns out that "suspended" wasn't just a euphemism this time. Yesterday Steinblatt emailed me to announce that the awards have been reinstated. Here's a link to ASCAP's announcement, complete with filing instructions.

My summary: submit four copies of no more than three music articles published in 2009 by July 31 to ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards, American Society of Composers, Authors, & Publishers, One Lincoln Plaza, New York NY 10023. That's right, snail-mail 'em. On paper. In-house contact: Esther SanSaurus, I'm submitting ASAP. I hope I have plenty of competition.


By J.D. Considine on June 8, 2010 9:47 AM

I couldn't get the url to work, nor could I find anything on the ASCAP site beyond a notice that the award had been suspended for 2009. Help?

By Robert Christgau on June 8, 2010 9:59 AM

The URL has now been changed into an actual link, which for some reasons is different from the URL I had. On my computer, it worked.

Articles, June 8, 2014

Nauseating Is an Adjective An Original