NPR Critic and Emerson College Journalism professor Tim Riley has written five critically-acclaimed books on rock history, including Lennon: the Man, the Myth, and the Music (Hyperion, 2011). Kirkus Reviews chose it one of their best biographies from that year, The New York Times praised it as “potently descriptive… a critical tour-de-force,” and Rolling Stone called it “…the most reliable, least star-struck volume on Lennon to date…”

For over twenty-five years, Riley has reviewed pop and classical music for NPR’s Here And Now, while contributing to shows like On Point, All Things Considered and Morning Edition, as well as The New York Times, The Atlantic, Radio Silence, The Huffington Post, Truthdig, The Washington Post, Slate.com and Salon.com.

current clips:

The New York Times Book Review, 2013


The Atlantic, 2013


truthdig book reviews, 2012


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WSJ Weekend Conversations

Tim Riley, James Fusilli

Wall Street Journal video interview, December 10, 2011

November 24, 2011
Rolling StoneGimme Some Truth
New bio is the most reliable guide yet to Lennon’s messy life and musical genius (4 1/2 stars)
by Will Hermes:

“…the most reliable, least star-struck volume on Lennon to date… Riley is a keen critic, and his analysis is what distinguishes this bio… helps you hear the man’s music anew – and given its omnipresence, that’s pretty amazing.”

Download the pdf

Morning Joe interview, October 14, 2011

October 9, 2011
The New York Times Book Review
John Lennon’s Primal Screams by James Parker:

Lennon is potently descriptive… a critical tour de force…” [pdf]


NPR CRITIC and EMERSON COLLEGE Journalist TIM RILEY reviews pop and classical music for NPR’s HERE AND NOW, and has written for the HUFFINGTON POST, THE WASHINGTON POST, SLATE.COM and SALON.COM. He studied piano and English at Oberlin and Eastman.

His first book, Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary (Knopf/Vintage 1988), was hailed by the New York Times as bringing “new insight to the act we’ve known for all these years…” He has since authored Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary (Knopf/Vintage/Da Capo 1992/2002), Madonna: Illustrated (Hyperion 1992), and Fever: How Rock’n’Roll Transformed Gender (Picador 2005).

Since 1990, Riley has given hundreds of lively multi-media presentations at colleges and cultural centers like New York’s Chautauqua Festival on “Censorship in the Arts,” and “Rock History.” He gave a keynote address at BEATLES 2000, the first international academic conference in Jyvaskyla, Finland, and lectured as Brown University’s Critic-In-Residence in 1988.

His current projects include the RILEY ROCK INDEX.com, music’s metaportal, blog riley at the prestigious ArtsJournal.com, and a new speech on social media and Wikileaks, “Let Freedom Leak.”

See excerpts from Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary