The Road Goes on Forever

Lost Highway: Journeys & Arrivals of American Musicians
Peter Guralnick

Lost_HighwayMy capacity for self-torture appears limitless.

Why else would I spend the scant time I have available for reading with an author whose work I am on record as finding less than pleasurable? The answer is unsatisfying: I bought the book and felt compelled to read it. No more, no less but no free pass for having a predisposition against the author.

Peter Guralnick is best known for his two-volume biography of Elvis Presley. In reality, though, he’s been writing about popular music for about as long as it’s Continue reading


The Answer Isn’t Obvious

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire
Will Hermes

Will Hermes and I have never met. At least I don’t think we have.

It’s entirely possible, though, that we stumbled across each other in some loud, smelly club in the late 1970s or 80s. And that (the clubs and the music) is the subject of Hermes’ in-depth look at five years of the New York music scene in the mid-1970s. We’re past the 30-year mark now from the death of punk and so the great nostalgia machine is kicking into gear.

What made this experience different is that Hermes and I are near contemporaries, living no more than 4 miles apart during the years he writes about. There’s no doubt we were at some of the same shows. There’s no doubt that we both Continue reading

Back when music wasn’t just for kids

Sweet Soul Music
Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom
Peter Guralnick

Here’s how I know a book isn’t working for me: it takes forever to finish. Not as in reading it was an exercise in tedium but that it actually takes years. I’m blessed in that I can come back and wade right in where I left off at any time. I’m cursed in that if I start I feel compelled to finish.

Peter Guralnick wrote the definitive Elvis Presley biography. Anybody who could get several hundred pages out of jump suits, peanut butter sandwiches and Continue reading