Taylor, Yuval 1963–

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Taylor, Yuval 1963–

PERSONAL:

Born February 27, 1963, in CA; son of Milton William (a professor) and Miriam (a weaver) Taylor; married Kathryn A. Duys (a professor), May 11, 1997; children: Thalia, Jacob. Education: Princeton University, A.B., 1985; University of Iowa, M.A., 1988. Politics: "Left wing." Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Music, nature.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Chicago, IL. Office—Chicago Review Press, 814 North Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Da Capo Press, New York, NY, editor, 1989-97; Chicago Review Press, Chicago, IL, senior editor, 1998—.

WRITINGS:

(Editor) I Was Born a Slave: An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives, Volume 1: 1770-1849, Volume 2: 1849-1866, Lawrence Hill Books (Chicago, IL), 1999.

(Adaptor) Philip S. Foner, editor, Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings, Lawrence Hill Books (Chicago, IL), 1999.

(Editor) The Future of Jazz, A Cappella Books (Chicago, IL), 2002.

(Editor, with Daniel Goldmark) The Cartoon Music Book, A Cappella Books (Chicago, IL), 2002.

(Editor) Growing Up in Slavery: Stories of Young Slaves as Told by Themselves (young adult), Lawrence Hill Books (Chicago, IL), 2005.

(With Hugh Barker) Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to African American Lives and A Friendly Game of Poker.

Contributor to periodicals including, Guardian and Antioch Review.

Maintains a blog.

SIDELIGHTS:

Yuval Taylor has for many years worked as an editor with A Cappella Books and Lawrence Hill Books, where he initiated the "Library of Black America" series. In addition to writing, Taylor has edited many books, both alone and with others, the two-volume I Was Born a Slave: An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives. The collection consists of twenty autobiographies, including nine of the most referenced slave biographies and two that were previously not reprinted. Library Journal critic Thomas J. Davis concluded that these two volumes are essential to collections of U.S. History and literature and African American collections.

The Future of Jazz is a collection of opinions researched via e-mail. Ten jazz critics contributed one essay each, other critics responded, and the original writers answered those responses. All aspects of jazz are covered. Library Journal reviewer Ronald S. Russ stated that, with all the arguing, "the reader feels as if the discussion is more about egos than the honesty of the music."

Taylor and Daniel Goldmark, a Rhino Records producer, editor and a professor, worked together on The Cartoon Music Book, a collection of observations on music in cartoons, from Carl Stalling's soundtracks for Warner Bros., for which he pirated snippets from the classics, jazz, pop, and folk songs, to contemporary Japanimation. Stalling's interview is the only one he ever gave. Contributors comment on music used to accompany silent cartoons and burlesque films, and speculate as to whether the subject music could stand on its own. Critics, who include Leonard Maltin and Neil Strauss, contribute their views, and the twenty-eight interviews, essays, and articles date back to 1920.

In reviewing the volume for Village Voice Online, R.C. Baker noted: "Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh discusses his second career composing highly regarded music for Pee-wee's Playhouse and Rugrats using synthesizers and stolen toy pianos." Library Journal contributor Eric Hahn described The Cartoon Music Book as "Insightful and surprisingly engaging."

Growing Up in Slavery: Stories of Young Slaves as Told by Themselves is Taylor's collection that includes the writing of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and others born into slavery. The ten accounts are arranged chronologically and encompass the years from 1745 to the 1860s. The children tell of being captured in Africa, toiling on plantations and, in the cases of the girls, surviving additional brutalities. Some risked their lives in learning to read or visiting relatives sold to new masters.

Taylor and music writer Hugh Barker cowrote Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music, the title of which they took from the suicide note of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain. The authenticities they define are personal, representational, and cultural. They write extensively of the first singer to demonstrate personal authenticity when in 1931, country singer Jimmie Rodgers sang his autobiographical song about Jimmie the Kid. Their prime example of representational authenticity is the group the Monkees, who were a hit on television but whose records were cut with a studio band.

New York Times Book Review contributor Ben Yagoda wrote: "Barker and Taylor address the final category—‘cultural authenticity’—in their best chapter, an account of how misguided notions of authenticity first closed the door of success on a black Mississippi performer, John Hurt, and then shoehorned him into a role that was, in a word, fake." Jeff Sharlet noted in a New Statesman review that when he was "discovered," Hurt was playing country music in an otherwise white band for a mixed-race audience. Rogers, because he was white, played country music, even though he was a bluesman.

Leadbelly was a black singer whose manager, John Lomax, told him to switch to primitive music free from white influence. Cobain believed in Leadbelly's authenticity and was desperate to remain authentic himself. A few months before his death, Cobain performed a Leadbelly cover on MTV's Unplugged. Sharlet wrote: "Cobain, so deep into the authenticity trap by then that he'd never escape, seemed to be making one last attempt not to ‘fake it’, by reviving a song by his ‘favourite performer’, and exiting the stage without an encore."

Other performers studied include Billy Joel, Neil Young, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Donna Summer, John Lennon, Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, and Moby. London Observer contributor Campbell Stevenson wrote that Taylor and Barker "either ignore or have no feel for pop at its most playful: Dylan, Bowie, Lou Reed and Morrissey are just a few of the major artists who have blurred autobiography and fiction, authenticity and fantasy, yet they rate barely a mention. This is by no means a definitive book, but is one worth having an argument with." In reviewing the volume for the Age Online, Baron Alder wrote: "It is clear that Barker and Taylor are passionate about popular music."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Music Teacher, December 2002, Dennis Thurmond, review of The Future of Jazz, p. 87.

Booklist, October 15, 2002, Gordon Flagg, review of The Cartoon Music Book, p. 372; February 1, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Growing up in Slavery: Stories of Young Slaves as Told by Themselves, p. 967; February 15, 2007, Mike Tribby, review of Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music, p. 22.

Internet Bookwatch, July 1, 2002, review of Faking It.

Library Journal, May 15, 1999, Thomas J. Davis, review of I Was Born a Slave: An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives, p. 108; October 15, 1999, Sherri Barnes, review of Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings, p. 82; April 15, 2002, Ronald S. Russ, review of The Future of Jazz, p. 87; November 1, 2002, Eric Hahn, review of The Cartoon Music Book, p. 92; February 15, 2007, Dave Szatmary, review of Faking It, p. 124.

London Observer, April 15, 2007, Campbell Stevenson, review of Faking It.

NEA Today, February 2007, "Surviving Slavery—Young People Speak," p. 61.

New Statesman, April 16, 2007, Jeff Sharlet, review of Faking It, p. 54.

New York Times Book Review, March 4, 2007, Ben Yagoda, review of Faking It, p. 24.

Notes, September, 2003, Julie Hubbert, review of The Cartoon Music Book, p. 146.

Publishers Weekly, May 3, 1999, review of I Was Born a Slave, p. 64; January 8, 2007, review of Faking It, p. 43.

School Library Journal, July, 2005, Kathy Tewell, review of Growing up in Slavery, p. 134.

Times Literary Supplement, August 6, 1999, review of I Was Born a Slave, p. 34.

Variety, August 25, 2003, Jon Burlingame, review of The Cartoon Music Book, p. 100.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2005, Tina Frolund, review of Growing up in Slavery, p. 158.

Washington Post, April, 2007, Chrissie Dickinson, review of Faking It, p. C2.

ONLINE

Age Online (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), http://www.theage.com.au/ (June 26, 2007), Baron Alder, review of Faking It.

Village Voice Online, December 16, 2002, R.C. Baker, review of The Cartoon Music Book.

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