In selections ranging from Bruce Springsteen on his experience of backing up Chuck Berry, to Joan Didion sitting in on a Doors recording session, to Henry Rollins on Madonna, to Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments. Tom Wolfe, Patti Smith, Don DeLillo, John Lennon, Frank Zappa, Nick Hornby, and dozens of other Rock & Roll celebrities record their reactions to the music of our generation. This 672-page compendium presents hours of fascinating writing. Published in 2000, this was one of the best collections of great writing on the music, artists, and personalities we grew up listening to. All the key players are here. Who is your favorite Rock & Roll group or artist? GRADE: A
“What we talk about when we talk about rock and roll.”
Bob Dylan  Bringing it all Back Home
Irvine Welsh  In Me Around Me and Everywhere
Pete Townshend  Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy
Nick Hornby  Looter
Salman Rushdie  A World Worthy of Our Yearning
Levon Helm, Martin Scorsese and Robbie Robertson  And if it Dances

“Jerry Lee … beat the boogie so hard that there was nothing left of the rhythm, nothing but the sounds of the Holy Ghost.”

Charlie  Gillett  From the introduction to The Sound of the City
Robert Johnson  Me and the Devil
Alan Lomax  The Land Where the Blues Began
Bob Dylan  Blind Willie McTell
Robert Palmer  From the Delta to Chicago
Greil Marcus  The Myth of Staggerlee
James Miller  King of the Delta Blues
Nick Tosches  Jerry Lee Sees the Bright Lights of Dallas
Grace Lichtenstein and Laura Dankner  Fats
Bumps Blackwell  Up Against the Wall with Little Richard
Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins  706 Union Avenue
Charlie  Gillett  The Fives Styles of Rock and Roll

“We sing the guitar electric.”
Brian Wilson  Do You Remember?
Peter Guralnick  Elvis, Scotty and Bill
Chuck Berry  Got to Be Rock and Roll Music
Nelson George  The Godfather of Soul
Philip Norman  A Good Stomping Band
Tom Wolfe  Words to the Wild
Patti Smith  dog dream
Charles Shaar Murray  Hendrix in Black and White
Joel Selvin  These are the Good Old Days
Richard Goldstein  Next Year in San Francisco
Peter Guralnick  Return of the King
Terry Southern  Riding the Lapping Tongue
Jaan Uhelszki   I Dreamed I Was Onstage with Kiss in my Maidenform Bra
Bob Marley with Timothy White  Worth Dying For
Anthony DeCurtis  A Life at the Crossroads
Dave Marsh   I Wanna Know if Love is Real
Joyce Millman  Primadonna
Jon Pareles  Precious Oddball
Gavin Martin  Articulate Speech of the Heart

“Fame requires every kind of excess.”
Mae Boren Axton  Testimony in the Payola Hearing
Unknown  The Plane Crash
Tina Turner with Kurt Loder  A Fool in Love
Dave Marsh  Merchants of Filth
Maureen Cleave  More Popular than Jesus
Ronnie Spector with Vince Waldron  Inflatable Phil
Stanley Booth  Altamont
Richard Goldstein  Gear
Pamela des Barres  Every Inch of My Love
Don DeLillo  Free of Old Saints and Martyrs
John Lennon  The Ballad of John and Yoko
Jon Savage  Ruined for Life
Robert McG. Thomas, Jr.  Rock and Roll Tragedy
William S. Burroughs and Devo  Fed by Things we Hate
Frank Zappa  Statement to the Senate Commerce Committee
Lynn Hirschberg  Strangelove
Jeffrey Rotter  Our Little Satan

“The tape is going and that is Bob fucking Dylan over there singing, so this had better be me sitting here playing something.”
Doc Pomus  Treatise on the Blues
James Brown with Bruce Tucker  The T.A.M.I. Show
Patti Smith  Rise of the Sacred Monsters
Al Kooper with Ben Edmonds  How Does it Feel?
Jules Siegel  A Teen-age Hymn to God
Joan Didion  Waiting for Morrison
Bill Graham and Robert Greenfield  Woodstock Notion
Michael Lindsay-Hogg  Video Pioneer
Jackson Browne  The Load Out
Nik Cohn  Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night
Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain  Punk Apostles
Tom McGrath  Integrating MTV
Jason Gross  Licensed to Download

“Unless my body reaches a certain temperature, starts to liquefy, I just don’t feel right.”
Lucy O’Brien  Girl Groups
Daniel Wolff  A Change is Gonna Come
Patricia Smith  Life According to Motown
Jon Landau  Otis Redding, the King of Them All
Robert Gordon  Dan and Spooner
Jerry Wexler with David Ritz  The Queen of Soul
Gerri Hershey  Soul Men
Roddy Doyle  From The Commitments
David Ritz  What’s Going On
Rickey Vincent  The Mothership Connection
Michael Gonzales  My Father Named Me Prince
Greg Tate  Hip-Hop Defined

“In the twentieth century, that’s all there is: jazz and rock and roll.”
Joe McEwen  Little Willie John
Robert Christgau  Rock Lyrics are Poetry (Maybe)
Paul Williams  All Along the Watchtower
J.R. Young  Reviews of After the Goldrush and Live Dead
Contra Wilson  Of Cock Rock Kings and Other Dinosaurs
Ellen Sander  Inside the Cages of the Zoo
Dave Hickey  The Delicacy of Rock and Roll
Jeff Gomez  Fanzine
Lester Bangs  Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung

“Because when he was alive he could not walk, but now he is walking with God.”
Lewis Shiner  Saving Jimi
Lester Bangs  Where Were You When Elvis Died?
Yoko Ono  Statement to the Press
Joel Selvin  More than `the Piano Player’
Mikel Gilmore  Kurt Cobain’s Road from Nowhere
Phil Spector   Save the Last Dance for Me

42 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #426: ROCK AND ROLL IS HERE TO STAY Edited by William McKeen

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    For me its Dylan, Springsteen, Rolling Stones and Lou Reed. Followed closely by The Kinks, The Who, Tom Waits and The Clash.

  2. wolf

    Wow, what a list! Difficult to decide …

    Of course Dylan was very important for a young “revolutionary” like my favourite has always been and still is Steve Winwood. When I was alone I went to the USA twice to see him, once in Florida and once in Texas …
    From the moment I heard “Gimme some lovin’ …” I was hooked and Blind Faith (whose fantastic concert in Hyde Park, London I missed by a week or so …) was also sensationalI
    Eric Clapton btw is my wife’s favourite – followed by Miles Davis and Satchmo (of course these are not R&R, but still …)

    Blues is also important for us, the classics like Robert Johnson and then Chuck Berry etc – we’ve seen them playing on the DVDs of the Clapton “Crossroads Festivals”, unfortunately never live. Among the younger Bluesmen: Joe Bonamassa.

    Last not least: Ray Charles – whos What’d I say part 1 and 2 was the first single record I bought while still at school – many people thought I was crazy!

      1. wolf

        Thanks, George!

        The others have also named performers/groups who I enjoy – in the 60s as a student I was lucky to have AFN (Us soldiers radio) – I didn’t have the money to buy all the records that I liked …
        Chicago of course, Roy Orbison (what a great group the Traveing Wilburies were later!) Neil Young and and …

        One of the few things that I really missed:

        Going to concerts – it was just too expensive say to drive/hitchhike to Munch or Berli where the big names played and of course impossible to go to the USA (much too expensive).
        When the $ fell in the mid 80s and I could afford to fly to Florida or New York City, Rock had totally changed …

      2. george Post author

        Wolf, I used to go to concerts in the Seventies, but once Patrick and Katie arrived in the 1980s, concert attendance was few and far between.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    Nice one. I have eclectic taste and find it impossible to narrow down a list of “favorites” to a few. We still go to concerts, and these days we tend to see mostly people and groups in our age range – for example, last year we saw Bonnie Raitt, Dion, Ronnie Spector, George Thorogood (we’re seeing him again next week), Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Boz Scaggs, Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, Graham Nash, Dixie Chicks, Happy Together tour (Turtles, Chuck Negron, etc.), Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris (with Robert Plant & Steve Earle), Jackson Browne (with Eddie Vedder & Rosanne Cash), Steely Dan (with Rickie Lee Jones), Los Lonely Boys, James Taylor (with Jimmy Buffett & Sarah McLachlan).

    Other favorites not touring here last year: John Fogerty, Bob Seger, Santana, Neil Young, Michael McDonald (we’re seeing him this year).

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, that’s a great list of performers. BOSTON has a concert in Vegas in a couple of weeks. I wish I could have seen that!

  4. Bill Crider

    Like Jeff, I can’t narrow it down, but I suspect everyone’s favorites have to do with the age they were when they first heard the artists. It’s more than the music (for me) that makes favorites. It’s the whole gestalt — where I was, who I was with, what was happening in the world at the time, and so on.

    1. george Post author

      Bill, my first Rock concert happened when Bob Dylan performed in Buffalo in 1965. And, I was listening to a lot of Motown music back then.

  5. Deb

    Beyond the Beatles, I can’t really rank my favorites. I knew EVERY group/artist from 1963 until the late 1980s–around the time I got married and started having kids. Specific songs bring back intense memories and impressions…but I can’t pick just one or two favorite artists.

    1. george Post author

      Deb, music was so much a part of our lives back then. I used to listen to the radio for hours per day. Now, I listen to the radio when I’m driving round running errands. Big difference!

      1. Steve Oerkfitz

        I just got Sirius radio with my new lease and find myself listening to Little Stevens Underground Garage all the time.

      2. george Post author

        Steve, I listen to Sirus/XM radio when I driving around doing errands. I like Soul Town, but I’ll check out Little Stevens Underground Garage.

  6. Jeff Meyerson

    Well, yesterday (after recent discussions), I listened to SGT. PEPPER and PET SOUNDS. Other CDs recently played here include:

    Boz Scaggs, MEMPHIS
    LOVE FOR LEVON (2 CD live tribute recording)
    Roy Orbison, BLACK & WHITE NIGHT (the PBS concert)
    THE BLUES HAD A BABY…THEY CALLED IT ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (classic 2 CD set, starting with “Tutti Frutti” and ending with Elvis doing “That’s All Right.”)

      1. Steve Oerkfitz

        Saw them at Pine Knob (now DTE ) in the 80’s. Not a large crowd and they played during a electrical storm. Couple of tracks from that show were included on their live album. Not in the audience for two many live albums. Was their at the Grande Ballroom when the MC5 recorded Kick Out The Jams and for Bob Segars first live album at Cobo Hall.

  7. Jeff Meyerson

    We’ve seen him open for George Thorogood twice, as well as opening for Roy Orbison back in 1988! Always a great show.

  8. mary mason

    I really can’t narrow it down. My first concert was the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (first one) They’ll probably be my first choice. My favorites are clearly from the 60’s and 70’s. Pretty much all of the British Invasion (though I wasn’t a fan of the animals, nor Gerry & the Pacemakers – I really prefer mostly fast songs). A year or so ago PBS had a documentary on the Dave Clark 5 and I really enjoyed that.

    I loved going to the Rock n Roll HOF as I got some CD’s of groups I really loved: James Gang (walk away was a fav dance tune from my bar hopping days) and Spencer Davis Group. Many of you have named groups I love (abba, stones, carole king, turtles (saw them in concert with Herman’s Hermits)

  9. Jeff Meyerson

    We’ve seen Joe Walsh (formerly of the James Gang) with the Eagles, of course. He’s always fun. He was born in Kansas but lived in NYC and New Jersey in his teens.

  10. mary mason

    I remember Jack Tempchin, a local. One of my friends met him at the San Diego 200th anniversary in Old Town

  11. patti abbott

    my first concert was my favorite, which I know I have mentioned many times. The Supremes and Stevie Wonder. 1966. Lambertville New Jersey, the night we got engaged.

  12. Jeff Meyerson

    Nice one, Patti. We saw the Supremes in the mid-60s at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. I first saw (then) “Little” Stevie Wonder at a Murray the K concert at the long-defunct Brooklyn Fox in the early ’60s. We last saw him at Madison Square Garden in 2007. He sang “For Once in My Life” and then was joined on the second verse by a special guest – Tony Bennett!

    1. wolf

      Stevie Wonder of course belongs among the top performers – I sometimes look at lists like “the best 500 soul singers” or “the best 100 rock guitarists” and usually I nod, yes great people – but sometimes I hear a name which is totally unknown to me …
      A bit OT
      Just read about Laura Nyro who wrote songs interpreted by many famous singers:
      Does anyone remember her?

      1. george Post author

        Wolf, Laura Nyro was a Big Star…and then she wasn’t. She had brief success and then faded away here.

      2. Jeff Meyerson

        Wolf, she was better known as a songwriter, as most of her stuff was done by The Fifth Dimension, Three Dog Night, Barbra Streisand, and Blood, Sweat & Tears.

        We got a Nyro GREATEST HITS CD and it’s amazing how many hits she had for other people. Great stuff.

      3. Steve Oerkfitz

        Laura Nyro did her own songs best. She did some pretty good covers too. Never cared for other artists versions of her songs-esp Streisand and The Fifth Dimension who watered her music down. And Stevie did some good work but burned out after a couple of good albums in the 70’s. He also did a lot of crap like I Just Called to Say I Love You.

  13. Cap'n Bob

    The Beatles first! The Beatles last! The Beatles always! Not to say there aren’t scores of fantastic groups out there, but none had as much impact on me as The Beatles!

    Wolf: I had a girlfriend who was a big Laura Nyro fan and I was made aware of her then.

    1. george Post author

      Bob, FRESH AIR on National Public Radio is featuring interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr today. There are plenty of media stories about the 50th Anniversary of SGT. PEPPER.

    1. Jeff Meyerson

      Rick, I had a friend whose older brother dated Marcie Blane (RN: Marcia Blank). Now that’s trivia!

    2. Steve Oerkfitz

      You forgot Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Lesley Gore and Little Peggy March. The early 60’s were an oasis of lame before Dylan and the British Invasion.


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