We live within a rock ‘n’ roll haze. Most of us go through our days silently humming tunes we could care less about, we think in MTV format, and for some reason, we tend to see Elvis Presley everywhere. Rock, it seems, has become our mythology.

In this issue of the Quarterly, we look at some of the ways the American rock myth plays out. At a pivotal moment in his life, L.D. Russell journeys into the heart of music country, visiting the homes of his idols in search of inspiration. Peter Guralnick writes about the end of Elvis Presley’s career, finding a parallel between the icon’s fading place in American culture and the events surrounding his final tours. John Valentine reviews Aretha Franklin’s new autobiography, in which we find out how an R&B legend sees and thinks about the world. And finally, Angie Carlson takes us on a long, strange trip into the life of Danny Griffin, who has fashioned a career for himself founded on his rock ‘n’ roll heroes.