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Rock On: An Office Power Ballad Paperback – February 12, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565125096
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125094
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,201,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kennedy, a McSweeney's contributor, offers an entertaining explanation of how, after years of stumbling through adulthood, he landed an improbable gig writing and producing ads for Atlantic Records. For a kid who grew up dressing like Gene Simmons each Halloween in the 1970s, this should be a dream job—hobnobbing with rock stars and industry legends while making more money than he ever had before. The trouble is that, by the early 21st century, he finds that Atlantic is more corporate than rock. Kennedy's run-ins with rock stars involve helping Jewel sell razors and mistaking Duran Duran's manager for a member of the band. When he's not inadvertently insulting aging rockers, Kennedy worries incessantly about office politics—whether he's made a permanent enemy of a co-worker by asking what kind of muffin she's eating, which executives to greet in the hallway and which to ignore. Kennedy's style—hilarious, paranoid and vulnerable—captures wonderfully the absurdity of the corporate music industry. Readers will appreciate the many lists that pepper the book, including Inappropriate Greetings and Salutations for Middle-Aged White Record Executives to Exchange: #1. Hello, Dawg. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Given his association with the McSweeney’s set (authors like Dave Eggers and Sarah Vowell), it’s no surprise that critics found Dan Kennedy’s book to exhibit the self-conscious-yet-genuine wit to which that journal aspires. Many reviewers go gaga for this sort of thing; others think it’s a tone whose time has passed. But even the latter group enjoyed Kennedy’s memoir, whether because of the subject matter or the author’s true respect for honest creativity and the people who, for better or worse, have to market it. The most common criticism was that the story ends too soon, but given Atlantic’s rapid demise, these critics will have to direct their complaints to the managerâ€"or, more likely, the manager’s manager.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

More About the Author

Dan Kennedy is a humorist in New York City, a contributor at McSweeney's, and host of The Moth storytelling podcast and live events. He is the author of three books: "American Sprit: A Novel", "Rock On", and "Loser Goes First". PLEASE NOTE: He is NOT the author of any 'get rich quick' business and marketing books, in no way endorses any such works, and claims no legal responsibility for the advice given therein. His credentials are often listed on such works in error.

AUTHOR DISAMBIGUATION: There are several authors named Dan Kennedy listed on Amazon. The author described above is a New York based writer and the author of the above referenced books (two memoirs, one novel). There should be no confusion between his works and certain/any non-fiction sales or financial advice books, as he has authored none, is not referenced in any such works, does not in any way endorse said works, and claims no legal responsibility for the advice given therein.

Customer Reviews

Great insider perspective of the downfall of a major music label.
Kelly Greenberg
The book was written in a choppy style and I found it hard to get any flow.
This book is so bad that I don't understand how it got published.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A. Ellenbarger on February 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
The book reminds me of that album that you bought because you heard one great song on the radio - you anticipated that this one song is so well written, so talent laden, that the rest of the album must be the same. As you open the package you feel that you may have another example of "Led Zeppelin IV" or "Appetite for Destruction" or "Nevermind". Only until after you get past the first two or three songs which pass for decent, do you realize that you've been duped into buying an average to below average album by a band that will fade into rock history.

I read the first chapter in the book store and felt that I had found another Chuck Klosterman or another Cintra Wilson - someone with a biting wit, someone who would expose through comedy the banality of our current media culture. Instead the first chapter fooled me into thinking the rest of the book would be as entertaining. As the chapters proceeded the wit became a simple repeating of his day to day business at this record company followed by giant misses of comedy and satire then followed by some supposed commentary on what ridiculousness the record company has become and what talentless hacks they push through to superstardom today. Ironically this seems to be exactly what has happened to Dan Kennedy based on his associate with McSweeney's and his packaging as a Chuck Klosterman-type rock satirist.

The book does have its funny moments, but too few and far between, while the rest of the book resorts to useless commentary on an industry we already knew was bloated and out of touch. Kennedy seemingly complains and ridicules the business that most readers can see he dearly wants to fit into and succeed in. His life and the time spent in the record company is about as uninteresting as his writing style and humor and I wish that I could return this book for a full refund along with the Black Stone Cherry and Wicked Wisdom CD's I recently bought.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dan Kennedy landed a job many of us casually interested in the music industry have surely secretly or not so secretly dreamt about (aloud or otherwise), namely what it would be like to actually work in the music industry.

In "Rock On: An Office Power Ballad" (234 pages), Kennedy brings his story of what it was like to land a marketing job and work for a major label, just as the major music label industry model as we used to know it was about to implode (circa 2003-04). What makes the book a winner, and an irresistable page-turner, is that Kennedy brings it all with a self-depreciating sense of humor, and that it (and he) is all not to be taken too seriously. What strikes me when reading this, is that Kennedy seemingly did not have a lot to do. In the 18 months on the job, Kennedy accounts for a handful of real projects (including Phil Collins, Jewel, Fat Joe, the Donnas, and that's about it), and the rest is taken up by interoffice politicking, and doom-and-gloom over the pending job cuts. That's really all about it.

I will admit that I enjoyed reading this book, simply because it is well written and I am naturally inclined in being interested in the subject matter, but when all is said and done, I couldn't help but feel a bit let down. The book is fun to read, but is ultimately quickly forgetable.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Brett on March 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
It's not often that a 200 page, afternoon read can seem bloated, but the music industry exploits in Dan Kennedy's Rock On pulls it off. Anyone that has ever worked at any level of corporate America (half the country) can relate to the office politics and positioning, especially when it is in such a coveted and lucrative industry as popular music, but I've heard far more interesting war stories from inside the walls of Kraft Foods. Even for those not in the music business, it should come as little surprise that the executives making the decisions aren't nearly as passionate about music as they are about their annual bonus and job security. That's right, people, the music industry, like nearly every other industry based in midtown Manhattan, is totally corporate. No, really, it totally is all about the money. I know, news to me. Someone tell Ryan Seacrest to put down that Coca-Cola.

Even though the theme of corporate take-over of popular music and the subsequent vaccuum it has unleashed upon the quality of the product (see Col. Parker) has been discussed ad naseum, it would be easy to ignore if Kennedy's exploits had been a tad more entertaining, or even, more unique to the music industry (because if he simply intends to reveal the sterility of the industry's office environment, he's wasting all of our time). Kennedy attempts to paint himself as the outsider looking in, as the eyes and ears of Joe Music Lover, but his awkward and positively neurotic interactions make it difficult for anyone to relate to him or his petty, mundane professional problems, especially after how quickly he gets sucked into the corporate culture himself and painfully tries to fit in.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steven Moore on March 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
Very amusing, and worth buying if only for the fantastic description of an Iggy Pop concert, an authentic moment that highlights the inauthenticity and phoniness of the record business Kennedy exposes throughout the rest of the book. The McSweeney's/DF Wallace style may not be to all tastes, but "Rock On" shows why the major labels deserve everything that's happened to them.
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