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Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 Hardcover – May 31, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Named one of the “Best Rock Books of the Year” by Rolling Stone

Kirkus Reviews, 5/15/11
“Through the lens of four fabulously successful musical acts, a Rolling Stone contributing editor looks at the moment 1960s idealism “began surrendering to the buzz-kill comedown of the decade ahead…A vivid freeze-frame of Hall of Fame musicians, some of whom would go on to make fine records, none ever again as central to the culture.”

Cityview Magazine, June 2011
“Browne has penned a classic.”
 
BookPage, June 2011
“Eminently readable….Browne’s engrossing account of this fertile but volatile period sets the standard by which comprehensive musical histories should be judged.”
 
Parade, 5/27/11
“This juicy, fascinating read transports you back to a turbulent year…Browne artfully describes the creation of these classic songs in a way that makes them seem brand-new.”
 
New York Daily News, 5/27/11
“Through rich anecdotes and incisive analysis…the book threads traces of politics, but music remains its worthy focus.  The form of the book, told chronologically over four seasons, lends it the compacted, real-time drama of an episode of ‘24’.”
 
New York Post, 5/29/11
“Behind-the-scenes, fly-on-the-wall looks at [the artists] make it a worthwhile read.”
 
Associated Press, 6/1/11
"Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 is a worthy addition to anyone's collection of such music histories…the nuanced account of the struggles inherent in making music is more than enough to satisfy, as are the delightful surprise connections and asides scattered throughout the book. . . . I couldn't help but be riveted by the account of this group of immensely talented people who also, when they weren't at each other's throats, seemed like they'd be cool to hang out with.”
 
Entertainment Weekly, 6/10/11
A “Best New Summer Read”
 
Vineyard Gazette, 5/20/11
“A social commentary, a fan’s look, an evolution of a generation and an up-close view of backstage dynamics in the music business, it’s also a book that will revive personal and social memories for anyone who ever lived their life to these songs.”
 
SecondAct.com, 5/25/11
 “Both fresh and revelatory … Browne's work reminds me of the late Otto Friedrich's classic book about Hollywood in the 1940s, City of Nets.”
 
Chicago Reader, 5/26/11
“Its principal task is to dive into the 60s hangover on a day-to-day level, describing the tensions that drove U.S./UK rock culture—emblematized by the four artists in the subtitle—toward the sweet, consoling embrace of Let It Be, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sweet Baby James, and Deja Vu,  …  Browne renders this somnambulant period with such care that he makes it seem alive.”
 
Mojo, June 2011
“Highly readable … shifts between the key points smoothly. He unearths some little-told stories along the way.”
 
BookPage, 6/1/11
“It wasn’t obvious as it was happening, but, as David Browne shows in Fire and Rain, 1970 turned out to be a watershed year in popular music.  … Browne’s engrossing account of this fertile but volatile period sets the standard by which comprehensive musical histories should be judged.”

Library Journal, 6/8/11
Browne engagingly illuminates many overlooked stories that may not be familiar to even dedicated rock enthusiasts. Highly recommended.”

Bookforum.com, Summer 2011
“Exhilarating and meticulously researched…Browne is a superb chronicler of popular music and a fine social historian.”
 
HollywoodReporter.com, 6/6/11
“An irresistible page-turner, a gossipy, scholarly account of an explosive rock moment, as organized as the times were chaotic— as well-crafted as a Beatles tune. The book is a brilliant lens on a time you only thought you knew.”
 
St. Petersburg Times, 6/5/11
“If you liked Life, then try Fire and Rain.”
 
Indiewire.com, 6/7/11
“Totally entertaining…There are drugs, love affairs and infighting behind the music, a story Browne smartly sets against the backdrop of a culture emerging from the turbulent 60’s. I can’t say I’m a big music person, but I was hooked from the minute I opened it.”
 
UGO, 6/7/11
The big picture that Browne paints throughout Fire and Rain, is a thoroughly fascinating and entertaining one.”
 
Music Tap, 6/7/11
“Compelling new tome… By placing the music in the context of time, but never letting the time overwhelm the subject of his book, Browne strips away that mythic quality of each release and makes them seem fresh and new again.”
 
Blurt! Magazine, 6/13/11
“[An] interesting and sometimes surprisingly informative book.”
 
Boston Globe, 6/13/11
“Absorbing…Browne avoids sentimentality and nostalgia, aiming instead at a fresh look at the bands and their milieu. Some of the period details are almost astonishingly apt.”
 
Blogcritics.org, 6/16/11
“David Browne's masterfully researched and written Fire And Rain is the sort of book that should have come along much sooner than it actually did…[A] compelling, thought provoking read…Fascinating.”
 
New York Times, 6/24/11
“As a reporter [Browne] is dogged and earnest; as a profile writer, crisp and professional. As “Fire and Rain” jaunts from London to Laurel Canyon, Mr. Browne drops in memorable details…very readable.”
 
People Magazine, 7/4/11
“A fascinating look at a pivotal year in the lives of James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.”
 
NPR.org, 6/20/11
“Browne is an incredibly intelligent writer…His considerable narrative skills make Fire and Rainone of the most entertaining and informative books of the year. It's bound to be enjoyed not only by rock fans, but by anyone interested in popular culture and social change.”
 
New York Magazine, 6/20/11
“[A] juicy history of 1970 in rock.”
 
Miami Herald, 6/24/11
“[An] intriguing new book…Fire and Rain works as a history lesson but is foremost a fast-paced music fan’s appreciation of the brilliance of that era’s artists.”
 
Showbiz411.com, 6/24/11
“A beautifully wrought compelling recounting of a key year in pop music…full of great tidbits”
 
San Antonio Express News, 6/23/11
“One of the truly great rock books”
 
Christian Science Monitor, 6/21/11
“Dishes the drama and details how it all went down”
 
Record Collector (UK), July 2011
“Browne is an excellent writer and tells this story very well.”
 
Metro (UK), 6/22/11
“Engaging”
 
Demetri Martin, 7/1/11
It’s a fun read”
 
Miami Herald, 6/30/11
“Intriguing new book…Fire and Rain works as a history lesson but is foremost a fast-paced music fan’s appreciation of the brilliance of that era’s artists.”
 
Financial Times, 6/26/11
“[Browne’s] attention to detail lends this compelling book a depth and richness rarely found in rock biography.”
 
Publishers Weekly, 7/18
“A fascinating look at an era when an artist's reputation was built not on social media sites, but on the music itself.”
 
Publishers Weekly, 7/18/11
“Using new interviews with the artists and their colleagues, as well as access to rare documents and recordings from the period, Browne employs a smart narrative style to make such well-worn stories as the Beatles' breakup fresh again…This book will appeal to classic rock fans, as well as younger readers who may find this to be a fascinating look at an era when an artist's reputation was built not on social media sites, but on the music itself.”
 
NPR.org, 7/20/11
“The book offers a refreshed view of the moment when the counterculture allegedly went soft. Browne's finely-detailed, engrossing narrative.”
 
PopMatters.com, 7/14/11
“Had Tolstoy been a reporter for Rolling Stone, he could’ve told this story better, but it would have taken him an extra 500 pages.”
 
Austin Chronicle, 7/15/11
“Chronicled capital-R rock music’s transition from late 1960s insurrection to early 1970s introspection.”
 
Irish Times (Ireland), 8/6/11
“Browne tells us much we didn’t know about each artist, but also gives a decent historical account of that year’s events, from the Apollo 13 crisis to the Kent State shootings to the bomb-making activism of The Weathermen to Nixon’s bid for re-election. Through numerous interviews and painstaking research, Browne has built up a forensic picture of these 12 months, and allows us to become flies on the wall at recording sessions, band meetings, public appearances and backstage at concerts.” 
 
Hartsville Messenger, 8/3/11
“Using new interviews with the artists and their colleagues, as well as access to rare documents and recordings from the period, Browne employs a smart narrative style to make such well-worn stories as the Beatles’ breakup fresh again.”
 
American Profile, 8/8/11
“For music fans, modern-history buffs and pop-culture junkies, it’s a fact-filled, insight-rich look at the beginnings of an era in which America grew up in more ways than one.”
 
Paste, 8/22/11
“Browne examines in this worthy book not only the music scene but also the backdrop of civil unrest that took place politically, culturally and musically in the dawning year of the ’70s…Browne is the perfect person to tell this story…The man has credentials, and his narrative skills weave stories in a way that doesn’t lose readers along the journey.”

Times Square Gossip, 9/2/11
“As a music fan, I appreciated the new details that [Browne] uncovers for each of the artists…The way he weaves in the timely moments in society (Kent State; Vietnam); wrapping them around his words…is miraculous…If you're a music fan from those halcyon days of the 70's...this one's for you.”

HITS Daily Double, 9/9/11
“[Browne] puts his mark on yet another transition period in rock and roll, connecting the dots to delineate a pop music universe that now seems so much more naïve and innocent.”
 
Huffington Post, 9/11/11
“Fascinating doesn’t even come close as we get a never before seen glimpse of the time leading up to Paul McCartney’s announcement that he was leaving the Beatles and the intertwining, almost incestuous connections between all four of these artists, not to mention the tremendous cultural tremors going through the body politic as a whole and how this informed their music.”
 
Shelf Life (Canada), October 2011
“A true trip down musical memory lane…This was a most interesting time in music and life, with much happening on the world stage. The author captures it precisely, giving us the inside story of the four top acts and how their music changed the music world for the better.”
 
American History, December 2011
“This respected music critic builds his plot according to his tastes. Even if you don’t share them, you’ll find his insights and writing rewarding.”

Relix
, October/November 2011
“Browne’s engaging new book explores a bittersweet cultural moment…An altogether absorbing narrative.”

Stuff I Like (blog), 11/27/11
“Evocative and splendidly written.”

JamBands.com
Fire And Rain should be handed out to students in every institution of learning across this fair land…A well-crafted, totally engaging history that reads like a novel…A very readable tale of cultural and political change.”
 
The Nervous Breakdown Gift Guide
“No music fan can afford to take a pass on this book.”
 
VEVO Holiday Gift Guide
 “A vivid read” 

About the Author

David Browne is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of three books: Dream Brother (2001), Amped (2004), and Goodbye 20th Century (2008). He also contributes to the New York Times, NPR, and other outlets. He lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Later Printing edition (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306818507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306818509
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

This was a fun book to read, very interesting, well written and glad I read it.
Michael Merican
And he reveals so many things that I never knew but was happy to find out ... about the music, the artists who created this amazing music, and the times.
James Deaton
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.
Thelma Adams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By D. Tuttle on June 5, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you were in JR. High and High School between 1968-1977 or so and collected and enjoyed the music of the talents mentioned in the title, then you'll enjoy this book. Like many geezers my age (52), these acts were, among others, the soundtrack of my youth and reading the particulars behind the music was an enjoyable journey to the past. I've been reading a number of musical biographies lately, 'you never give me your money' (beatles), 'The bitch is back' (Elton John), 'Broken Music' (Sting), all have been interesting and this one was no exception. I recommend it without reservation.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Whaley on May 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Thank you, David Browne, for capturing the essence of this time for those who remember, and describing it beautifully for those who don't.

This book crafts a gorgeous narrative of four artists whose work dovetailed and really defined at least one generation. Browne's research is extensive and the facts uncovered are a goldmine. Definitely a compelling read for all people who listen to music, of any age.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Tom Dupree on June 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's been a long time since I had a *better* time reading a book than David Browne's FIRE AND RAIN. I gulped it down in two sittings and still wanted more.

I was 20 in Mr. Browne's target year, I had just gotten my first auto-changing turntable, and we had a groundbreaking FM rock station in town, whose playlists came to be cited in the national trades. I reveled in all the music: I was an intense fan of all four acts he explores, and I read about them and others in the new, hip mag Rolling Stone. Pop music was one of the most important things in my cultural life back then, and I did pay attention to details - but Mr. Browne went far beyond. His research is amazing. I learned stuff I didn't know in every single chapter. He took me onstage for shows I only dreamed about from far-off Mississippi. I personally think the Seventies began in 1972, with McGovern's defeat, but Mr. Browne makes a compelling case for 1970 itself, at least where pop music is concerned. If you care[d] at all about the genre in 1970, you will not be able to put this thing down.

Full disclosure: I edited Mr. Browne's first book, DREAM BROTHER, but I had nothing to do with this one. Too bad: it's still a muggafugga.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Mahoney on June 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
OK, I'd like to have given four-and-a-half-stars, for only one dark reason. This fine, carefully and consciously researched book is about the most salient music in 1970, which as, as David Browne notes on page 298, had a "collective message [that] couldn't be denied. Be it bands, community, the antiwar movement, none of it could be relied on anymore."

But that message was received in the fall of 1969. What's missing in this book is what happened, decisively, during the fall and winter before 1970. I was 20 years old at Woodstock, and even then, it seemed more like the Last Gathering of the Tribes than it did a signal of a new renaissance. And we all knew that the Beatles had signed off on the whole thing when Abbey Road came out that fall - "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Right, bless you, and now we're all on our own - an attitude that David Brown captures very lucidly - seeing "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "Let It Be" as the elegies they were.

The Stones' tour late that fall was a wake, the funeral being Altamont, captured in awful clarity by Stanley Booth's "True History of the Rolling Stones," which you who read this excellent book ought to read next. CSN&Y were clearly Frozen-Nosed hold-overs, and "Teach Your Children" was seen as painfully pathetic by those of us who knew a certain Dream Was mostly Over - but what wasn't at all dead in that Dream had to be kept alive, for the sake of our souls, pretty much. Except now, in 1970, only on an individual basis.

So people like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell - and the Band - exemplifying keeping yourselves and hopefully your friends together, somehow, was a way past, a way out, a way through this weird, unnecessary, inevitable collapse - of a deeply, lovingly imaginative, dis-economic, unempowered, socially valid and morally clear vision of a better humanity. Buy this book- it's the only one of its kind, and it's radically necessary cultural history.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael OConnor TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
David Browne's evocative, insightful FIRE AND RAIN takes the reader on a magical mystery tour through the musical and societal upheavals that took place in 1970. 1970 was one of those landmark years that many of us would like to forget, a 'bummer' year beset by struggle, strife, sex, drugs and rock 'n roll beginnings and endings. Against the backdrop of an imploding America, music critic David Browne charts the varying fortunes of the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and James Taylor. The times they were a'changing and Browne poignantly captures it all in this 2011 Da Capo Press release.

Musically, in 1970: the Beatles, ostensibly putting the final touches on their 'Let It Be' album, were about to crash and burn. So too were Simon & Garfunkel, set to release 'Bridge over Troubled Water.' A new super-group - CSN&Y - with the warmest harmonies this side of heaven was blossoming and already beginning to self-destruct! And a sweet-voiced, stone-faced troubador named James Taylor was inching his way into the American consciousness. As if that wasn't enough, sweeping changes were taking place in the music industry. Far more important changes were taking place in American life. The anti-war movement was floundering with a lunatic fringe carrying out a bombing campaign nationwide. Students were killed at Kent State. Three astronauts almost died on Apollo 13 and so on. In short, 1970 was a wild-and-crazy year.

FIRE AND RAIN captures all of 1970's craziness, sweetness, sadness and confusion in an affectionate, compelling style. Impeccably researched, Browne's book is a great read. Highly recommended.
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