If, to paraphrase Frank Zappa, "Music critics are writers with nothing to say and no ability to say it," then this collection may have changed his mind. These are beautifully constructed essays reeking of insight and inspiration. The Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart was responsible for choosing these various pieces that range in subject from character studies of Nina Simone and Willie Nelson to offbeat pieces about karoake bars and the sites where rock stars last took breath.
If, indeed, music is an elemental form, an art created with voice and the plunking of strings laid across a wooden plank, why does the explanation of that simple process require such a high-handed, erudite, master-thesis approach? Understandably, defining the fusion of atoms or even the mechanics of the internal combustion engine demands a scholarly and scientific treatment. But you need a higher education to even begin to understand some of the passages here.
Here is a line in a piece about dead rock critic Lester Bangs: "There was always that alternating current in him which oscillated between destructive-nihilist character traits and the deep-seated beauty-awe component, a tension that was easier and more salutary to manage in writing than a life of self-mocking, self-medicating excess." This is one of the more basic lines in this ode.
This is a thinking man's/woman's approach to rock journalism. And there's nothing wrong with that. These are fine, well-honed, and skillful journalists talking about music in a voice they find natural and basic. Just remember to have dictionary and thesaurus close at hand.