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Waiting for the Sun: A Rock & Roll History of Los Angeles Paperback – February 1, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

British rock historian Barney Hoskyns, author of Across the Great Divide: The Band and America, examines the long and twisted rock and roll history of Los Angeles. The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, The Doors, Little Feat, The Eagles, Steely Dan, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell and others (right up to Black Flag, The Minutemen and Guns N'Roses) populate the pages of this comprehensive and extensively illustrated book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Hoskyns (From a Whisper to a Scream) proposes that Los Angeles is a city embodying with particular clarity both the brightest and darkest parts of American culture. Yet this aura of "irresistible... disjuncture" has provided a fertile ground for musical creativity. Here, Hoskyns traces the evolution of L.A.'s popular music scene from the 1940s through the 1990s with the intent of demonstrating how the city's unique atmosphere has informed the work of artists ranging from Nat King Cole and Charlie Parker to Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to Jane's Addiction and NWA. The penetrating sociocultural analysis of Hoskyns's introductory chapter loses steam, however, as Hoskyns focuses on the relationships between various artists and music industry executives. Even so, the author constructs a comprehensive and critically astute history of the major developments and players in the Southern California music business. Hoskyns is particularly perceptive about the racial politics of music culture and those musical and cultural moments of dynamic transition when new genres of popular music emerge. The numerous photos and pithy quotes from other observers of the L.A. scene make for enjoyable and informative reading.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879309431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879309435
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

If you love music bio's you're gonna love this one.
Jason C. Brayshaw
This book is so well researched and so full of relevant details that I've been able to completely reconstruct popular music from my teenage years.
S. Moler
He does this to the point of annoyance and actually comes off sounding fairly pretentious and even a bit childish.
tank03

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Barney Hoskyns' "Waiting for the Sun" is a superbly written and illustrated history of the Los Angeles music scene from the Second World War through the early nineties. There aren't many really good books about popular music around, but this is one of them; in fact, I'd say it's the best book yet written about a music "scene" (as opposed to a particular artist), even better than Jon Savage's "England's Dreaming," which recounts the explosion of punk in the U.K. in the 1970's.
The story moves effortlessly through the progression of musical styles that have flourished and often cross-pollinated each other in Southern California -- small-combo jazz, R&B, early rock & roll, surf music, folk-rock, psychedelia, country rock, heavy metal, punk and rap. The book includes lively portraits of the many famous (and infamous) people who have been a part of it, like Phil Spector, Ricky Nelson, Sam Cooke, David Crosby, Neil Young, Sonny Bono, the Beach Boys, Jim Morrison, Gram Parsons, Charles Manson, Randy Newman, Steely Dan, X and NWA, but also discusses many talented people who never quite made it to the big time, or who lost their way before realizing their full potential. Hoskyns is quite good in describing the business side of the music scene, and in relating events outside the music scene (for example, the booming aerospace industry, the surfing craze, the development of a "San Francisco sound," and the riots of 1965 and 1992) that had a significant impact on it.
In tracing the development of popular music in LA, Hoskyns makes the key point -- though this is hardly news -- that no musical style remains popular very long, and even the most creative and versatile artists simply can't stay on top for more than a couple of years.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By tank03 on February 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book but it never really met my expectations. The book is more a history of the music business rather than a history of the music. Lots of material on corporate executives and A&R men; not that such material isn't necessary or important, but I was expecting more information regarding the artists and their work. More about the musical culture involving the artists would have been appreciated, instead of the inner working of the various record companies and their employees.

Hoskyns also imbues the narrative with his own personal biases in regards to the quality of the music and/or artists. He does this to the point of annoyance and actually comes off sounding fairly pretentious and even a bit childish. I would have preferred a more objective and even-handed journlaistic approach, allowing me to make my own judgements.

I also have to agree with another reviewer that Hoskyns seems intent on finding racism around every corner and under every rock in LA. Much like his comments regarding the quality of the music, these rants soon start to annoy and detract from the overall narrative.

As I said, I really wanted to like this book but ended up disappointed.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book, and you might love it also if you can manage to step over its many steaming diatribes against what Barney Hoskyns considers to be racism based on corrupt capitalism.
For example, the Beach Boys' early emphasis on surfing, sun, and fun on the beach is, to Hoskyns, somehow an Aryan fantasy nearly worthy of Adolf Hitler. For Hoskyns there's apparently a racist in almost every woodpile, and most of the woodpiles are owned by evil capitalists.
But the book happens to be a really good, richly detailed history of popular music in LA, well worth reading. The many photographs are terrific. It was amazing to read the descriptions of the very hot jazz scene in south central LA in the 30s and 40s, and I was fascinated by how surf music gave way to the mid-60s hippie scene, and how that scene became poisoned with drugs and many other things, including none other than Charles Manson. There's a wealth of juicy quotes from all kinds of people.
Hoskyns is a very good writer, is very witty and acerbic in his observations, and his apparent familiarity with the music and the people are exceptional.
Plus, the book is very well-edited. I don't recall a single typo, although it's full of goofy British spellings and expressions, things like calling a beeper a "bleeper." But it adds to the book's charm.
Hoskyns obviously worked hard and long on this, and it's really enjoyable.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"Waiting for the Sun" is an intelligent, informative, and very entertaining critical history of the Los Angeles pop music scene from the late 1940s through the 1990s. Real-life characters as diverse as Jim Morrison, Brian Wilson, Neil Young, Henry Rollins, Sly Stone, Kim Fowley, John Phillips, Ice Cube, Phil Spector, Axl Rose, Lou Adler, Charles Manson, Rick Nelson, and James Ellroy (and others too numerous to mention) are discussed and examined, painting a nightmarish portrait of Los Angeles as a city of dreams and decadence. Highly recommended for pop music fans, cultural historians, and those fascinated with the noir-ish allure of the City of Angels.
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