Monday, July 2, 2012

Love Goes To Buildings On Fire

The title of Talking Heads' first single. Also the title of a non-fiction book, released late last year, by music critic Will Hermes. I finally got around to finishing it after not touching it for a few months. It's a great read, one that requires a bit of patience and lots of open-mindedness. It helps that he's a big Springsteen fan too. In summary, the book tells the story of the New York City music scene from 1973 to 1977. So not only you get the punk, rock & roll stuff like The Ramones, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Blondie, Talking Heads, Lou Reed etc, you also find out about other genres like salsa, disco, dance, hip-hop, minimalist classical and loft jazz, all of which are given equal treatment in the book. The art that came out of this significant five-year period would influence most of what we listen to today. And Hermes also sets the context and backdrop of which this music came out of. He describes vividly what it was like to live in NYC back in the '70s. I think to say that it used to be a tough town would probably be an understatement. In between the lives of the artists, he covers murders, muggings, bombings, blackouts, rallies, and all the craziness that went down in the five boroughs. It's essential education into a period which is largely forgotten today, and not given enough credit for.