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January 1970: > the Beatles assemble one more time to put the finishing touches on Let It Be; > Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are wrapping up Déjà Vu; > Simon and Garfunkel are unveiling Bridge Over Troubled Water; > James Taylor is an upstart singer-songwriter who’s just completed Sweet Baby James. Over the course of the next twelve months, their lives ... and the world around January 1970: > the Beatles assemble one more time to put the finishing touches on Let It Be; > Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are wrapping up Déjà Vu; > Simon and Garfunkel are unveiling Bridge Over Troubled Water; > James Taylor is an upstart singer-songwriter who’s just completed Sweet Baby James. Over the course of the next twelve months, their lives ... and the world around them ... will change irrevocably. Fire and Rain tells the story of four iconic albums of 1970 and the lives, times, and constantly intertwining personal ties of the remarkable artists who made them. Acclaimed journalist David Browne sets these stories against an increasingly chaotic backdrop of events that sent the world spinning throughout that tumultuous year: Kent State, the Apollo 13 debacle, ongoing bombings by radical left-wing groups, the diffusion of the antiwar movement, and much more. Featuring candid interviews with more than 100 luminaries, including some of the artists themselves, Browne's vivid narrative tells the incredible story of how ... over the course of twelve turbulent months ... the '60s effectively ended and the '70s began.


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January 1970: > the Beatles assemble one more time to put the finishing touches on Let It Be; > Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are wrapping up Déjà Vu; > Simon and Garfunkel are unveiling Bridge Over Troubled Water; > James Taylor is an upstart singer-songwriter who’s just completed Sweet Baby James. Over the course of the next twelve months, their lives ... and the world around January 1970: > the Beatles assemble one more time to put the finishing touches on Let It Be; > Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are wrapping up Déjà Vu; > Simon and Garfunkel are unveiling Bridge Over Troubled Water; > James Taylor is an upstart singer-songwriter who’s just completed Sweet Baby James. Over the course of the next twelve months, their lives ... and the world around them ... will change irrevocably. Fire and Rain tells the story of four iconic albums of 1970 and the lives, times, and constantly intertwining personal ties of the remarkable artists who made them. Acclaimed journalist David Browne sets these stories against an increasingly chaotic backdrop of events that sent the world spinning throughout that tumultuous year: Kent State, the Apollo 13 debacle, ongoing bombings by radical left-wing groups, the diffusion of the antiwar movement, and much more. Featuring candid interviews with more than 100 luminaries, including some of the artists themselves, Browne's vivid narrative tells the incredible story of how ... over the course of twelve turbulent months ... the '60s effectively ended and the '70s began.

30 review for Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wayne Courtois

    Years ago I read that, while they were recording the 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' album, Simon and Garfunkel hardly saw each other. Simon would go to the studio and record his tracks, and Garfunkel would go some other time and record his tracks, etc. I was crushed to learn this. I had always thought that S & G were a gay couple. I mean, their photo on the cover of 'Bookends' was, and still is, the gayest thing I've ever seen. Now, thanks to David Browne, I learn that it's true: they didn't parti Years ago I read that, while they were recording the 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' album, Simon and Garfunkel hardly saw each other. Simon would go to the studio and record his tracks, and Garfunkel would go some other time and record his tracks, etc. I was crushed to learn this. I had always thought that S & G were a gay couple. I mean, their photo on the cover of 'Bookends' was, and still is, the gayest thing I've ever seen. Now, thanks to David Browne, I learn that it's true: they didn't particularly like each other a hell of a lot. In fact, nobody liked anybody in the hermetically sealed world of popular music. The Beatles bickered and sniped at each other while they were writing and recording some of the most beautiful music known to man. CSN&Y, ditto. James Taylor floats through the book on a cloud of solipsism and heroin. Just about everybody behaves badly. And that is what makes this book such a guilty pleasure. It is Stars Behaving Badly all the way through. If you like this kind of guilty pleasure, this book is for you. You will learn a lot that you didn't know about the year 1970 in popular music--and if you were alive then, the book will also bring back a lot of memories.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    A perfect book for those of a certain age who loved the music back then. I found it interesting and a very quick read....one day for me but then I love music almost as much as I love books! Can't say there was anything earth shattering that I didn't already suspect, but it made me put on those CD's and listen to them with a more knowledgeable ear. A perfect book for those of a certain age who loved the music back then. I found it interesting and a very quick read....one day for me but then I love music almost as much as I love books! Can't say there was anything earth shattering that I didn't already suspect, but it made me put on those CD's and listen to them with a more knowledgeable ear.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Thelma Adams

    Full confession: I had a decade-long crush on Graham Nash. The song "Our House," his love song to his ex Joni Mitchell (Her Blue was my favorite cry album through high school and college), has a prominent place in my novel Playdate, along with The Beatles' Octopus's Garden. But, given all my love for CSNY, Y alone, the Beatles, James Taylor and, even, Simon & Garfunkel, the soundtrack of my adolescence, it wasn't until I read Browne's exhaustively researched, impeccably written book that I was a Full confession: I had a decade-long crush on Graham Nash. The song "Our House," his love song to his ex Joni Mitchell (Her Blue was my favorite cry album through high school and college), has a prominent place in my novel Playdate, along with The Beatles' Octopus's Garden. But, given all my love for CSNY, Y alone, the Beatles, James Taylor and, even, Simon & Garfunkel, the soundtrack of my adolescence, it wasn't until I read Browne's exhaustively researched, impeccably written book that I was able to weave all these musicians' stories together at a critical juncture: 1970. They meant so much to me personally and Browne, in this book, demonstrates how much they meant to pop culture and to music more generally. Even though I'm naturally a fiction reader, I tore through this nonfiction book as if it was a thriller. Browne's Fire & Rain is the work of a big brain propelled by a modest, truthful, insightful spirit.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The parts of the book that dealt with the subject of the title, rated 4 stars. But, the inclusion of the "other stuff" took it down to 3 for me. I turned 20 in 1970 and was as immersed in music as I could be at the time, considering that I was also in the United States Marine Corps. I was a "long hair" in attitude only. The "other stuff" was history lessons of events of that year like the Kent State shootings, and Weather Underground bombings. Those were important events that had an impact on soc The parts of the book that dealt with the subject of the title, rated 4 stars. But, the inclusion of the "other stuff" took it down to 3 for me. I turned 20 in 1970 and was as immersed in music as I could be at the time, considering that I was also in the United States Marine Corps. I was a "long hair" in attitude only. The "other stuff" was history lessons of events of that year like the Kent State shootings, and Weather Underground bombings. Those were important events that had an impact on society, but for me did not enhance the stories I bought this book to read.....about the music and the musicians. The last 20% of the book was nothing but the authors notes and page after page of resource materials. The information about the four acts mentioned in the title was very interesting and considering the many other books I've read on music and rock and roll, new to me. That stuff was a pleasure to read.....mgc

  5. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Admittedly, I am giving this at least one extra star b/c of my demographic: This book directly ties to 1970 (not "70s" or "70-ish", but 1970 exactly), and given that I entered my teen years right about then, all the music / bands / music stars / current events about which author Browne writes are pretty much burned into my brain given that formative youth period. The backstories of the Beatles (officially) breaking up, CSNY forming and breaking up, Simon & Garfunkel sending "Bridge Over Troubled Admittedly, I am giving this at least one extra star b/c of my demographic: This book directly ties to 1970 (not "70s" or "70-ish", but 1970 exactly), and given that I entered my teen years right about then, all the music / bands / music stars / current events about which author Browne writes are pretty much burned into my brain given that formative youth period. The backstories of the Beatles (officially) breaking up, CSNY forming and breaking up, Simon & Garfunkel sending "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to the top (and then breaking up), and Taylor releasing "Sweet Baby James", are all fascinating - this on top of Kent State, Hendrix / Joplin OD'ing, Apollo 13, bombing in Cambodia, and the numerous protest bombings. And it all happened in 1970 - kind of a lot going on! The only thing missing from this audio book is, well, the audio of the songs, but I assume that getting the rights to all of the ones mentioned would have been cost prohibitive. Author David Browne writes well and clearly seems to have done his research, plus presumably made a lot of "I was there" observations. Reader Sean Runnette has the annoying habit of running on his paragraphs, so there are lots of jerky jump shifts in the narrative with no pause for breath as Browne goes from one band / group / singer to another; however, this nuisance doesn't get in the way of the overall arc of the book. Anyone with an interest in any of these groups / singers will hugely enjoy this book. Rock on.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    This book is about music in 1970 and focuses on four groups/albums; Crosby Stills Nash and Young and Deja Vue, James Taylor and Fire and Rain, the Beatles and Let it Be and Simon and Garfunkle with Bridge over Troubled Water The subject matter should have made for a great read. But either because the author tried to cover too much in too short of book or because of a narrative that read more like a survey or plot summary of an era, the book never really came alive. The best contrast is with the b This book is about music in 1970 and focuses on four groups/albums; Crosby Stills Nash and Young and Deja Vue, James Taylor and Fire and Rain, the Beatles and Let it Be and Simon and Garfunkle with Bridge over Troubled Water The subject matter should have made for a great read. But either because the author tried to cover too much in too short of book or because of a narrative that read more like a survey or plot summary of an era, the book never really came alive. The best contrast is with the book Girls Like Us, there I finished the book feeling like I actually knew Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. Unfortunately, Fire and Rain came off like reading 15 different Wikapedia entries on 1970 music

  7. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    1970 was a tough year for me - middle school, then called junior high - and James Taylor's album was on my record player daily as I moped in my room after school. Of course I was attracted to this book. It was fun to read about these very familiar people and their music. It wasn't edifying in any way, just a pleasant bit of nostalgia for a time in my life I thought surely was the worst I would experience. 1970 was a tough year for me - middle school, then called junior high - and James Taylor's album was on my record player daily as I moped in my room after school. Of course I was attracted to this book. It was fun to read about these very familiar people and their music. It wasn't edifying in any way, just a pleasant bit of nostalgia for a time in my life I thought surely was the worst I would experience.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    I was born during Woodstock. Not, you know, AT Woodstock, though it is fun to tease my mother, but while it was going on and about two and a half hours southeasterly. I grew up on this music, to the point that there are songs by the featured artists that I simply know, with absolutely no effort on my part. (There are also a few I thought I knew, and discovered when listening to them during this that I had the words ALL wrong.) I have always loved CSN&Y without even really realizing it; Simon and I was born during Woodstock. Not, you know, AT Woodstock, though it is fun to tease my mother, but while it was going on and about two and a half hours southeasterly. I grew up on this music, to the point that there are songs by the featured artists that I simply know, with absolutely no effort on my part. (There are also a few I thought I knew, and discovered when listening to them during this that I had the words ALL wrong.) I have always loved CSN&Y without even really realizing it; Simon and Garfunkel and James Taylor are staples in my playlists. On my birthday in 1991 Paul Simon gave his Born at the Right Time concert in Central Park, and watching that on HBO was a joy. He and JT just make me happy. And the Beatles? I "discovered" them during a turbulent time in my teens, probably with "The Compleat Beatles" on PBS. And I was lost. A Beatlemaniac, minus the screaming. Earlier this year I listened to a podcast called (heh) "Compleatly Beatles", which was fantastic and from which I learned a lot. Part of what I learned is that I don't know very much about this period. All right, I pretty much consciously avoid this period. I am forever glad I missed out on this period, for so many reasons. But a lot of the music was amazing. This is the story of the music of 1970, with the ripples of Woodstock still ruffling the waters. "January 1970: the Beatles assemble one more time to put the finishing touches on Let It Be; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are wrapping up Déjà Vu; Simon and Garfunkel are unveiling Bridge Over Troubled Water; James Taylor is an upstart singer-songwriter who's just completed Sweet Baby James. Over the course of the next twelve months, their lives--and the world around them--will change irrevocably." And I'm very glad I'd already listened to the podcast before listening to this, because it got most of my disillusionment with the Beatles out of the way. Because as it turns out I don't like three of them very much at all. (Ringo, though? Ringo will always be wonderful.) A ways in, I suddenly realized that my face was twisting up every time Browne/Runnette mentioned Yoko Ono, as if a cockroach crawled over my hand. It was completely unconscious. Was the breakup all her fault? Oh, hell no. Was her presence a constant irritation to the other three Beatles, not to mention everyone else who worked at Apple, not to mention Cynthia and Julian Lennon? Oh, God, yes. I have always disliked her intensely, and this changed nothing. And I'm not touching her … ah, music with a ten-foot keyboard. Fire and Rain didn't do much for my opinion of any of them, really, except James Taylor. I have always loved him, I adore him now, and there's not much that could change that; if anything his young vulnerability as described here dug him deeper into my heart. And Paul Simon will always make me happy, whatever else can be said. I enjoyed the narration. Sean Runnette used very subtle intonations rather than full-blown accents – just a tinge of the Germanic for Voorman, just a hint of a lilt for the Liverpudlians; he didn't try to do outright imitations. Very wise. It worked nicely. My only problem with the production of the audio was that there was no significant pause between sections – like going from discussing royalties and penalties from a Paul McCartney release to discussing Charles Manson (who in 1970 was bringing "Helter Skelter" into his trial), with no more break than from paragraph to paragraph. That took a minute to process. I'm not entirely sure about the book itself. There are some odd grammatical errors – throughout the book it is, horrifically, "At she and Harrison's house" "she and Lennon's relationship", which in the words of my old English professor made my ears turn inside out. More, though, I began to distrust his reportage a little when I Youtubed what he called James Taylor's "alternately deadpan and irritable screentest" for the movie Two-Lane Blacktop - a very young JT's screentest? How could I resist? And I don't see it, what Browne saw. Deadpan, maybe; he's kind of always deadpan. Irritable, and all the rest of the adjectives he throws at it? No. I see painfully, hideously shy. But over all, although this added a few more pounds of clay to the feet of various idols, still – it was fun to create a Pandora channel and listen to the music while I listened to the book. I'm glad to know more about these men who have so impacted music, so impacted my life. They're people now – not Icons, not Stars, not just voices on the radio. That's not a bad thing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Well, this was just a glorious, riveting read. I knew a lot (but not all) of the Beatles stuff, but I wasn't that familiar with the back stories of CSNY and Simon and Garfunkel (or James Taylor, but I found him the least interesting of the four. Your mileage may vary.) Browne, a long-time writer for Rolling Stone, is a skilled writer regardless of what you think of the magazine and effortlessly interweaves the narratives of these four performers through the events of the turbulent year of 1970. Well, this was just a glorious, riveting read. I knew a lot (but not all) of the Beatles stuff, but I wasn't that familiar with the back stories of CSNY and Simon and Garfunkel (or James Taylor, but I found him the least interesting of the four. Your mileage may vary.) Browne, a long-time writer for Rolling Stone, is a skilled writer regardless of what you think of the magazine and effortlessly interweaves the narratives of these four performers through the events of the turbulent year of 1970. Despite our need to cap events at the end of the decade when reality is rarely so tidy, 1970 really did have the feeling of an end of an era. Consider some of the things that happened: -the Kent State shootings (and a similar, lesser known event at Jackson State College) -the break-up of Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, and CSNY (although this last break-up was far less definitive than the other two, as they would play on each others' solo albums and regroup in various combinations many times over the years) -the deaths of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Al Wilson of Canned Heat -Apollo 13, while deemed a successful failure, is a portent of the demise of the Apollo program a few years later -Paul McCartney sues his former band mates and Apple in court (and eventually wins) -the Weather Underground accidentally blows up a townhouse in New York City while assembling a bomb intended for Columbia University, succeeding in incinerating themselves instead and making all peace activists look like assholes in the process -the birth of Greenpeace and the EPA There are great stories on almost every page and I ate it up. I even re-read some sections as soon as I finished. If you are a music fan, you should read this. If you know a music fan, you should gift them this.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    Browne has taken the genre of rock biography to a new level. He goes far beyond describing a band and the internal discontent, creative energy, or drug use. He takes four seminal albums and places them in the social and political context of 1970, the year in which they were released. The demise of the Beatles and events surrounding Let It Be, and the rise of James Taylor with the release of Sweet Baby James serve as metaphorical bookends to the year. The book is organized by seasons, with the sto Browne has taken the genre of rock biography to a new level. He goes far beyond describing a band and the internal discontent, creative energy, or drug use. He takes four seminal albums and places them in the social and political context of 1970, the year in which they were released. The demise of the Beatles and events surrounding Let It Be, and the rise of James Taylor with the release of Sweet Baby James serve as metaphorical bookends to the year. The book is organized by seasons, with the stories of the selected artists woven together. Browne interviewed Crosby and Taylor, as well as many of the people closely involved with these 4 albums. In his intro, Browne discusses what led him to write the book; his writing remains objective even with his openly admitted reverence for the 4 albums he chose. Browne’s experience as a journalist is evident in his well-researched account. His writing flows easily, even when he needs to backtrack a bit to further describe an event. As a lifelong band chick, I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of desribing the year and even the artists in the context of specific albums. No one artist, band, or song stands alone. They are all intertwined, and Browne does a marvelous job of showing us the riptides of change throughout 1970.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    David Browne's narrative of four seminal acts in 1970 could have been really interesting. However, I was amazed to find out that Browne is an editor at Rolling Stone Magazine, as an editor is exactly what this book needed. Each group had producers, studio musicians, girlfriends, etc. and Browne did not do a good job distinguishing who was who. Also, he switched from talking about one act to another with too much extraneous information, so that the reader was left wondering when he was going to f David Browne's narrative of four seminal acts in 1970 could have been really interesting. However, I was amazed to find out that Browne is an editor at Rolling Stone Magazine, as an editor is exactly what this book needed. Each group had producers, studio musicians, girlfriends, etc. and Browne did not do a good job distinguishing who was who. Also, he switched from talking about one act to another with too much extraneous information, so that the reader was left wondering when he was going to finally tell which group he was talking about. If you can get past the bad writing, though, there are lots of great stories about bands that still influence music 40 years later. For example, Paul Simon wanted "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to be recorded with just Art Garfunkel singing and him playing an acoustic guitar. It was producer Phil Spector who added the orchestra, choir, and drums, all without telling Simon and Garfunkel. (The song and the album of the same name swept the Grammy Awards that year.) If you are a huge music fan and you can get past the crummy writing, you might enjoy this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shaun Swick

    An engrossing read from start to finish, Browne expertly synthesizes a year in music history—and American history—through the eyes of three devolving bands and one emerging solo artist. I've been really getting into this era and these musicians in the past couple years, but even if I hadn't, I would dive in right after reading this book. Bouncing between stories and progressing chronologically throughout the first year of a new decade, Browne finds connections in both obvious—and, to me at least An engrossing read from start to finish, Browne expertly synthesizes a year in music history—and American history—through the eyes of three devolving bands and one emerging solo artist. I've been really getting into this era and these musicians in the past couple years, but even if I hadn't, I would dive in right after reading this book. Bouncing between stories and progressing chronologically throughout the first year of a new decade, Browne finds connections in both obvious—and, to me at least—hidden places. Best of all, the book sets into context the music and the musicians that have since become legend. The end result is a story that feels as present and immediate as today's headlines.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lora King

    Fascinating book about CSNY, Beatles, James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel during a pivotal year in their lives....a break up year for 3 and a take off year for 1! So many changes going on that year and we do tend to focus on 1972 with Watergate as the beginning of of the 70's. Music changed forever that year, the type of music we wanted to listen to changed and this book does such a great job of making that year come alive. Very easy to read and inspired me to download some old favorites to my na Fascinating book about CSNY, Beatles, James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel during a pivotal year in their lives....a break up year for 3 and a take off year for 1! So many changes going on that year and we do tend to focus on 1972 with Watergate as the beginning of of the 70's. Music changed forever that year, the type of music we wanted to listen to changed and this book does such a great job of making that year come alive. Very easy to read and inspired me to download some old favorites to my nano to appreciate all over again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ginny Messina

    Not quite the cozy nostalgic read I was anticipating since this covered a period when these groups were dealing with tremendous discord among the members (or heroin addiction in the case of JT), and were in the process of breaking up. So, while the music they produced that year was excellent (after all these years, hearing Art Garfunkel sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" still makes me all shivery and teary) the whole book felt a little sad. Fascinating just the same,though, and still recommended Not quite the cozy nostalgic read I was anticipating since this covered a period when these groups were dealing with tremendous discord among the members (or heroin addiction in the case of JT), and were in the process of breaking up. So, while the music they produced that year was excellent (after all these years, hearing Art Garfunkel sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" still makes me all shivery and teary) the whole book felt a little sad. Fascinating just the same,though, and still recommended for anyone who remembers 1970 and wants to know what was going on behind the scenes.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Patrick DiJusto

    1968 was the year that changed everything. No, that was 1963. Or was it 1967? 1964. Definitely 1964. No matter. The thesis of this book is that 1970 was The Year That Changed Everything, at least as far as the music business was concerned. We lost the Beatles, with all their multi-instrumentality. Simon and Garfunkel didn't break up as much as just stopped working together. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young went from a multi-platinum debut album to a situation where they couldn't stand to be in the sa 1968 was the year that changed everything. No, that was 1963. Or was it 1967? 1964. Definitely 1964. No matter. The thesis of this book is that 1970 was The Year That Changed Everything, at least as far as the music business was concerned. We lost the Beatles, with all their multi-instrumentality. Simon and Garfunkel didn't break up as much as just stopped working together. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young went from a multi-platinum debut album to a situation where they couldn't stand to be in the same room together. And James Taylor had a hard time choosing between his guitar and heroin. In Taylor, (and a newly freed Simon) 1970 saw the rise of the singer-songwriter -- a solo person sitting on a stool in a spotlight, armed only with a guitar and a microphone, singing songs they themselves wrote. The book makes its case -- 1970 was a pivotal year in music -- but many of the stories in the book have already been told: the Beatles suing each other, Simon growing jealous of Garfunkel's acting career, Taylor's struggles to remain drug-free. I personally found the CSNY stuff the most interesting, mainly because I had never heard any of it before. For example, everyone knows the story of how Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell were living together, and one rainy day they went antique shopping, where she bought a vase. On their return home, Graham said "I'll light the fire. You put some flowers in the vase you bought today." But instead of gathering wood, Nash sat down at the piano, repeated what he just said, and in about 15 minutes wrote the greatest song about domesticity ever written. What few people know is that when the song "Our House" was released as a single, Mitchell broke up with Nash by sending him a telegram when he was on tour. As a result, CSNY couldn't perform their greatest hit in concert anymore, because whenever they tried, Nash would burst into tears every time. That sort of sums up 1970.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    4.5 stars. I listened to the audiobook and would have given it 5 stars if parts of the songs that were referenced had been added! I want a soundtrack! This was a fascinating history, weaving the music of the late 60s with the cultural and political landscape of the time. I was too young in 1970 to understand what was happening, but I grew up to love James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel. The background stories are just cool. The parallels with today, 50 years later, illustrate all that we haven’t le 4.5 stars. I listened to the audiobook and would have given it 5 stars if parts of the songs that were referenced had been added! I want a soundtrack! This was a fascinating history, weaving the music of the late 60s with the cultural and political landscape of the time. I was too young in 1970 to understand what was happening, but I grew up to love James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel. The background stories are just cool. The parallels with today, 50 years later, illustrate all that we haven’t learned from our mistakes. We, as a country, were at a crossroads in 1970, and we are once again. There’s no right and wrong, just very different perspectives.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathy McC

    Clearly the author has done his research, and the subject is near and dear to my heart. So much information, such great music. But, it was a boring book, and it is difficult to understand how a book about music from the 70s could be boring. "Many have rightly argued that the dawn of the '70s began in 1972 or 1973, just as the '60s didn't genuinely launch until Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. 1970 felt like the lost year: the moment at which the remaining slivers of the idealism of the '60s bega Clearly the author has done his research, and the subject is near and dear to my heart. So much information, such great music. But, it was a boring book, and it is difficult to understand how a book about music from the 70s could be boring. "Many have rightly argued that the dawn of the '70s began in 1972 or 1973, just as the '60s didn't genuinely launch until Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. 1970 felt like the lost year: the moment at which the remaining slivers of the idealism of the '60s began surrendering to the buzz-kill comedown of the decade ahead."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charles Hughes

    Very entertaining, somewhat insightful look at the intersecting 1970 careers of the four artists mentioned in the title. Browne aims to use these biographical sketches to make larger points about what happened to pop music, the music business, and cultural politics in the year that he repeatedly identifies as a transitional year. He's on his surest footing when talking specifically about the music - he does some of the most interesting work on CSNY that I've read, for example - but he flags a bi Very entertaining, somewhat insightful look at the intersecting 1970 careers of the four artists mentioned in the title. Browne aims to use these biographical sketches to make larger points about what happened to pop music, the music business, and cultural politics in the year that he repeatedly identifies as a transitional year. He's on his surest footing when talking specifically about the music - he does some of the most interesting work on CSNY that I've read, for example - but he flags a bit when trying to draw larger conclusions. He's working with a lot of the right contextual material (Vietnam Moratorium, Southern Strategy, Kent State and Jackson State, etc.), but he mostly doesn't demonstrate how those contexts are connected to the artists and records he's covering. That's a tough task, of course, but I was really hoping for stronger insights. Others have done this kind of work better, and with some of these artists. (Jonathan Gould's book on The Beatles remains the gold standard, and Peter Doggett's recent work on music and politics in the late 1960s/early 1970s is flawed but still more successful.) Browne is more than capable of making these connections, but his book veers more towards a less interesting mix of critical appraisal and artist biography. Still, there's a lot here to admire. Browne's clear love for all four of his subjects comes through on every page. He's done a lot of great original research, including interviews with Crosby, Stills & Nash, as well as a ton of the various associates/collaborators of the artists he's covering. He's got great stories and good analysis of the records he talks about. His prose is crisp and engaging, and there are moments when the hints of a larger, better argument poke through. He notes, for example, that the 1970/1971 proliferation of solo albums by artists identified with groups - including all four Beatles, all four members of CSNY, and Simon - reflected the broader turn from 1960s communalism to 1970s individualism. But, too often, these feel like afterthoughts rather than the meat of the project. One last thing in Browne's favor: he made me approach some familiar records in a new way. I'm listening to the early CSN/CSNY stuff with fresh ears. And I'm putting BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER and LET IT BE in dialogue, which Browne argues for convincingly and explores deftly. Every music-based writing should inspire further listening, and Browne more than accomplishes that task here. In short, I recommend - though not highly - for any interested party.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I really enjoyed this book, even though some of the themes -- the disintegration of rock music's iconic bands and the heavy drug use -- were dispiriting. Possibly because I was never an aficionado of rock history books before, this one seemed fresh to me, while also allowing me to revisit my 23-year-old self and learn a lot more about the making of the music that captured me. I remember working for a small daily newspaper in Connecticut when someone in the composing room brought in Crosby, Stills I really enjoyed this book, even though some of the themes -- the disintegration of rock music's iconic bands and the heavy drug use -- were dispiriting. Possibly because I was never an aficionado of rock history books before, this one seemed fresh to me, while also allowing me to revisit my 23-year-old self and learn a lot more about the making of the music that captured me. I remember working for a small daily newspaper in Connecticut when someone in the composing room brought in Crosby, Stills and Nash and put it on the record player we kept there, and we just listened to it constantly. I was pretty much unaware of the sniping from some that this was a bad turn away from rock or protest music, and I was certainly unaware of all the ego clashes that tore the group apart after Neil Young joined. The Beatles' breakup was covered more extensively, but even then, I had never worked my way through all those tangled relationships, so the divorce of McCartney and his separate business reps and the part they played in the dissolution of Apple were all new to me, as were the tangled personal relationships (for awhile, it seemed in this book that Joni Mitchell had slept with everybody). Browne makes a case that 1970 was a year when the disillusionment with the hippie era and its lack of progress politically and socially joined with a sharp turn in music to more personal, less political and more solo-based acts, typified by James Taylor and the solo Paul Simon, and I think by and large he carries it off. It's a smooth reading book that gives you enough detail to feel on the inside but not so much music nerd material that you feel bogged down in trivia.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    What a disappointment this book was! The author follows four musical acts - The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, and CSNY - through a year in which the first two fall, the third rises, and the last does both. Basically, he robbed his sister's record collection and wrote about it against a backdrop of what he considered a pivotal year in America. Whatever. The book failed on so many counts for me, it's hard to list all of them but I'll try. First of all, it felt like a badly-written past What a disappointment this book was! The author follows four musical acts - The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, and CSNY - through a year in which the first two fall, the third rises, and the last does both. Basically, he robbed his sister's record collection and wrote about it against a backdrop of what he considered a pivotal year in America. Whatever. The book failed on so many counts for me, it's hard to list all of them but I'll try. First of all, it felt like a badly-written paste job of old news and gossip. Leave the Beatles alone! There's nothing new here, just a bunch of quotes from their old staff and circle; John and George are dead, Paul and Ringo have nothing to say and have moved on. So have Simon & Garfunkel so none of these six are directly quoted, we only read the impressions of others. Neil Young isn't even quoted indirectly and his former collaborators are wallowing in the nostalgia of when they wrote stuff that people listened to. There are no rock acts here and if you're looking to include acts that truly came to an end that year, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died - you can't get more final than that. As for the world events, it felt awfully flat for something which had such impact, more like a book report than serious journalism. It's incredible how a Rolling Stone editor can come off like a People magazine staffer but that was my final impression, a vibrant time written flat.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    I knew I would love this book by just the title. In 1970 I was 11 years old and just discovering this music. Who knew men could be such divas? This book give insight as to the rise and fall of muscial partnerships that were close enough to be called family. You will learn the depth of James Taylor's addiction, Stephen Stills' temper, Paul Simon's insecurity, Paul McCartney's and John Lennon's arrogance. You will learn the turmoil that surrounded the writing of "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Let I I knew I would love this book by just the title. In 1970 I was 11 years old and just discovering this music. Who knew men could be such divas? This book give insight as to the rise and fall of muscial partnerships that were close enough to be called family. You will learn the depth of James Taylor's addiction, Stephen Stills' temper, Paul Simon's insecurity, Paul McCartney's and John Lennon's arrogance. You will learn the turmoil that surrounded the writing of "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Let It Be", "Fire & Rain" and others. Out of all the chaos and drama came the music of a generation that still endures today. This is a good read. Appears to be straight forward and honest; not at all gossipy; no tabloid feel to it. David Browne is a music journalist and treats this material with respect since this was the music of his own youth. In his Introduction Browne echos a sentiment that I have always felt about myself: "Those of us who came of age in the 70's were reminded we'd missed out on the most astounding era in history, a flowering of culture, society, and mankind like none before." But read this book and you will come to believe that the 70's were not that disappointing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    The book is divided into four chronological sections; the chapters within each section cycle through each band, wrapping up with an epilogue entitled December. Each time a chapter covering one band ended, I thought I couldn’t bear to wait to read what happened next, but then immediately became absorbed in the next band’s story. There was a great deal of overlap between all of the musicians and bands, so the book flowed well. 1970 was a turbulent time in U.S. history, and I was at the age where I The book is divided into four chronological sections; the chapters within each section cycle through each band, wrapping up with an epilogue entitled December. Each time a chapter covering one band ended, I thought I couldn’t bear to wait to read what happened next, but then immediately became absorbed in the next band’s story. There was a great deal of overlap between all of the musicians and bands, so the book flowed well. 1970 was a turbulent time in U.S. history, and I was at the age where I was just growing aware of the politics and current events that influenced many songwriters. It was also the age at which I was becoming knowledgeable about rock bands (it's possible that might have been influenced by my epic crushes on Paul McCartney and James Taylor). Reading about the conflicts between band members, all of whom were in the process of becoming former band members, brought back a lot of memories. I think almost all of the LPs discussed in the book were among the first ones I owned; I could picture what the albums looked like and hear the music as I read. I miss album cover art.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    I definitely enjoyed this book, and Browne is one of my favorite music journalists (Dream Brother is one of my favorite music books of all time). It is admirable here that he addresses with some depth Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, James Taylor, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Additionally, he turns the book into a cultural history, briefly talking about major events of 1970, and how they either shaped (or were shaped by) the music being made. My only issues with the book are also some of t I definitely enjoyed this book, and Browne is one of my favorite music journalists (Dream Brother is one of my favorite music books of all time). It is admirable here that he addresses with some depth Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, James Taylor, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Additionally, he turns the book into a cultural history, briefly talking about major events of 1970, and how they either shaped (or were shaped by) the music being made. My only issues with the book are also some of the things I like most about it: its breadth of scope also means it sacrifices depth in talk about each of the different groups. Also, I wish Browne had more primary sources here; most of his information comes from friends or acquaintances of the bands (which is pretty good considering the forty-plus years that have passed since the events of the book). Still, selfishly, I wished that Browne could include more interviews with the artists themselves (though C, S, & N do include their voices exclusively for the book, which is great).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    This a very clever idea, tell the history of a year through four different musical histories and along the way help illuminate the social context of that year. For anyone of a certain age who was an avid music fan in 1970 much of this will be a soundtrack of your past. Browne tells the story of the breakup of the Beatles, the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel, the rise of James Taylor and the train wreck that was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Browne's research is deep and is spiced with many anec This a very clever idea, tell the history of a year through four different musical histories and along the way help illuminate the social context of that year. For anyone of a certain age who was an avid music fan in 1970 much of this will be a soundtrack of your past. Browne tells the story of the breakup of the Beatles, the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel, the rise of James Taylor and the train wreck that was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Browne's research is deep and is spiced with many anecdotes based on interviews with many of the major players. He also tells of the last, explosive gasp of the campus radicals, particularly the Weathemen and the shootings at Kent State. The majority of the book is focussed on the musicians as it should but the external descriptions aid in placing the music firmly in the history of the times.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Howard

    If there's such a thing as a "favorite" year from my youth, 1970 is that year. I turned 16-going-on-ancient that summer. I still miss my friends, Milford Swim Club, hitchhiking without fear, and the whole ethos of the times. The golden times lasted (for me) through 1971, but 1970 was the signal year. What resonates most, and takes me back there, is the music. This book recalls a lot of things I knew, some that I didn't know, and some that I had forgotten, but at least for me, it brought 1970 back If there's such a thing as a "favorite" year from my youth, 1970 is that year. I turned 16-going-on-ancient that summer. I still miss my friends, Milford Swim Club, hitchhiking without fear, and the whole ethos of the times. The golden times lasted (for me) through 1971, but 1970 was the signal year. What resonates most, and takes me back there, is the music. This book recalls a lot of things I knew, some that I didn't know, and some that I had forgotten, but at least for me, it brought 1970 back to life, with all of the good, the bad, and the in-between. From Instant Karma to Maybe I'm Amazed to Ohio and Almost Cut My Hair, each song the book talks about conjured up some special recollections. Overall, the book is well put together, and tracks several interwoven threads through the year, in chronological order. I enjoyed it, and hope you do, too, especially if you were there.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve Turtell

    This is one of two books about popular music I've been reading (I haven't finished the other yet: Elijah Ward's How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll). I was skeptical at first about the thesis, that there was a "lost story of 1970" to be told through an account of the major pop musical events--but I lived through that period and listened to all the music David Browne discusses and analyzes so skillfully and carefully. He does make a good case that 1970 was a transitional year--not simply the This is one of two books about popular music I've been reading (I haven't finished the other yet: Elijah Ward's How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll). I was skeptical at first about the thesis, that there was a "lost story of 1970" to be told through an account of the major pop musical events--but I lived through that period and listened to all the music David Browne discusses and analyzes so skillfully and carefully. He does make a good case that 1970 was a transitional year--not simply the beginning of a new decade. Reading it was more than just an exercise in nostalgia (though for me it was also that). Browne does an excellent job of demonstrating how the art of an era (in his case the music of the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Tayler, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) reflect some of the deeper currents in the culture.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Darcia Helle

    If you are a fan of any of the bands and/or singers listed in the title, then this is a book for you. Readers follow the descent of the Beatles, the quick rise and fall of CSNY, Simon and Garfunkel's fall and Simon's singular rise, and James Taylor's ascent into the singer/songwriter world of music. We're given glimpses into their personal lives and the way their lives and music tangled together, then came apart. David Browne does occasionally touch upon the politics and social aspects of life i If you are a fan of any of the bands and/or singers listed in the title, then this is a book for you. Readers follow the descent of the Beatles, the quick rise and fall of CSNY, Simon and Garfunkel's fall and Simon's singular rise, and James Taylor's ascent into the singer/songwriter world of music. We're given glimpses into their personal lives and the way their lives and music tangled together, then came apart. David Browne does occasionally touch upon the politics and social aspects of life in 1970 but this book is mainly about the music of these particular artists. I found it a well-written, relatively unbiased account one of the major turning points in music's history.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    This went down easy--nice to see a book about the music of this time period, which generally gets little respect. The book isn't a piercing sociological study or anything like that, but it nicely ties together the disillusion of the end of the sixties with the dissolution of the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and CSNY--and the rise of James Taylor and what he (sort of) stood for. Having read countless critics talking about how awful that was, it's pleasant to read a book that accepts it--maybe even This went down easy--nice to see a book about the music of this time period, which generally gets little respect. The book isn't a piercing sociological study or anything like that, but it nicely ties together the disillusion of the end of the sixties with the dissolution of the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and CSNY--and the rise of James Taylor and what he (sort of) stood for. Having read countless critics talking about how awful that was, it's pleasant to read a book that accepts it--maybe even likes it. You can draw your own conclusions about the awfulness. Plus, have a piece of chocolate every time someone passes a joint around.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    As a music fan, I loved this book. Not only did I enjoy it because of the time period, artists and albums that it profiled, but also because of the way that it was written, with each of the (nonfiction) stories flowing into the next. Specifically, this is the story of four artists - The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, and CSNY = the historic albums that they released in 1970 - Let It Be, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sweet Baby James, and Deja Vu. This is truly a must-read for fans of As a music fan, I loved this book. Not only did I enjoy it because of the time period, artists and albums that it profiled, but also because of the way that it was written, with each of the (nonfiction) stories flowing into the next. Specifically, this is the story of four artists - The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, and CSNY = the historic albums that they released in 1970 - Let It Be, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sweet Baby James, and Deja Vu. This is truly a must-read for fans of these artists and/or music history.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I very much enjoyed this book. I give it 5 stars for the people who love this music and were young when it first came out, and four stars for those who just like the music. I was a freshman/sophomore in 1970, and so many of these albums were among the first I bought and played over and over again on the stereo, staring into the album covers. The book probably doesn't add much new to what we know about these groups but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I played After the Gold Rush and Harvest this afterno I very much enjoyed this book. I give it 5 stars for the people who love this music and were young when it first came out, and four stars for those who just like the music. I was a freshman/sophomore in 1970, and so many of these albums were among the first I bought and played over and over again on the stereo, staring into the album covers. The book probably doesn't add much new to what we know about these groups but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I played After the Gold Rush and Harvest this afternoon, had a Simon and Garfunkle fest last Sunday, and it's James Taylor's turn tomorrow.....

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