I recently added two books to my music book collection – one new, the other 35+ years old.
FIRE & RAIN – The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 by David Browne (Perseus, 2011) gives a lot away with its title. Following the rich decade that kicked off with Buddy Holly, welcomed the British Invasion, experimented with the Summer of Love, peaked at Woodstock only to ultimately collapse at Altamont, the rock genre then settled into what might be called its passive aggressive period. Its biggest stars, the ones presented in the book’s title, were of the laid back variety. Although tired of psychedelia and acid rock, folks still want to party, but they also wanted to just chill. At the same time, Browne, author of biographies on Sonic Youth and Buckleys Jeff and Tim, shows that these musicians were nowhere near as laid back as their music and images might suggest. Having been a high school sophomore in 1970, I found the history fascinating even though it conflicted somewhat with the image I had of the time… or maybe it was the image I wanted to have!
S.T.P. – A Journey through America with the Rolling Stones by Robert Greenfield (Perseus, 1974) is one of those books I have been meaning to read for decades. I picked up a copy while searching for bargains as our local Borders was closing its doors. (Snared it at 70% off!) While I harbored no delusions about the Stones, this story of the 1972 tour coincides with what I consider to be their peak. In fact, if I could go back in time and catch a show of any group’s past tour, that’s the one I’d pick. The boys had just cut Exile on Main Street and were hawking it in arenas across America. The Glimmer Twins are there in all their Mickness and Keefness and the reader is treated to an insider’s view of a truly wild and debaucherous scene. Furthermore, I was struck by the extent to which all the members of the Stones are truly committed to music. (e.g., Tour stops invariably included club-crawling to hear R&B bands.) Greenfield knows his craft, having written biographies of rock icons promoter Bill Graham and Jerry Garcia. It’s a good read.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld