Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century

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Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century
Lipstick Traces A Secret History of the 20th Century.jpg
AuthorGreil Marcus
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreNonfiction
PublisherHarvard University Press
Publication date
1989
Pages496
ISBN0-674-53580-4
Preceded byStranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island 
Followed byDead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession 
This article is about the book, for the compilation album by Manic Street Preachers see Lipstick Traces (A Secret History of Manic Street Preachers).

Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century (1989) is a non-fiction book by American rock-music critic Greil Marcus that examines popular music and art as a social critique of Western culture.

The book covers 20th century avant-garde art movements like Dadaism, Lettrist International and Situationist International and their influence on late 20th century countercultures and The Sex Pistols and punk movement. "This book does not pretend to be a history of any of the movements it addresses," the author writes (p. 414.) "The events of the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1964 "formed a standard against which I've judged the present and the past ever since . . . I never got over it . . . as an incomplete but indelible image of good public life" (p. 411)

A "soundtrack" to Lipstick Traces, compiling many of the songs referenced in the book, was released by Rough Trade Records in 1993.

The name "Lipstick Traces" can be traced to the 1979 Iggy Pop song "Don't Look Down", with the line "Lipstick traces on his name remain"... referring to visiting Rudolph Valentino's grave [1]

In 1999, the book was adapted into a stage production by Rude Mechanicals (a.k.a. Rude Mechs) of Austin, TX. The play has been performed all across the United States- including a stint Off-Broadway in 2001- and in Salzburg, Austria. In 2005, the play was invited to join the New York Public Library's Dramatic Literature Archive.

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