For the 2nd edition of our 33 1/3 Series Editor Q&A feature, we spoke with Gayle Wald. In the interview below, Gayle talks about her role in the 33 1/3 series, what she looks for when reviewing book proposals, and also discusses a forthcoming book in the series, currently slated for publication in fall 2019.
What do you do outside of being a 33 1/3 series editor?
I teach English and American studies at George Washington University in DC, where I get to teach courses on U.S. Popular Music, among other things.
What are you reading or listening to right now?
I just started N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, an award-winning sci-fi novel from 2015. After a lifetime of avoiding science fiction, I’ve just started to be drawn to it. Right now my listening includes Chuck Berry and Rhiannon Giddens’s latest album, Freedom Highway. I can’t get a certain Weeknd song out of my head.
What are some of your favorite books in the series?
My all-time favorite is the all-time bestselling 33 1/3 book: Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love by Celine Dion. I’ve taught this book a number of times, and it’s always a great introduction to the politics of taste. It’s a worthy exercise to think about music you loathe.
Why are you excited to be part of 33 1/3?
I love 33 1/3 as a platform for writers’ creativity. At their best, these books can be riffs in dialogue with the music they dissect and discuss. And I appreciate 33 1/3 as an outlet for passionate writing, including the writing of fans.
What do you look for in a proposal?
I’m less concerned with the choice of an album than with the author’s vision. Why is it important to tell a story about this album? Why now? And why you [the author]? Along with the other members of the editorial team, I’m interested in expanding the scope of the series and to find new literary voices, or familiar voices writing in a new mode.
Tell us a little bit about the new titles you chose for the series. What drew you to them?
Matt Jacobson on Odetta’s One Grain of Sand* was a no-brainer for me. Jacobson’s a celebrated American historian, and Odetta is a celebrated–and strangely under-studied–20th-century American singer and musician.
*publishing in fall 2019!