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1973: Rock at the Crossroads Kindle Edition
A fascinating account of the music and epic social change of 1973, a defining year for David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Eagles, Elvis Presley, and the former members of The Beatles.
1973 was the year rock hit its peak while splintering—just like the rest of the world. Ziggy Stardust travelled to America in David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane. The Dark Side of the Moon began its epic run on the Billboard charts, inspired by the madness of Pink Floyd's founder, while all four former Beatles scored top ten albums, two hitting #1.
FM battled AM, and Motown battled Philly on the charts, as the era of protest soul gave way to disco, while DJ Kool Herc gave birth to hip hop in the Bronx. The glam rock of the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper split into glam metal and punk. Hippies and rednecks made peace in Austin thanks to Willie Nelson, while outlaw country, country rock, and Southern rock each pointed toward modern country. The Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, and the Band played the largest rock concert to date at Watkins Glen.
Led Zep’s Houses of the Holy reflected the rise of funk and reggae. The singer songwriter movement led by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell flourished at the Troubadour and Max’s Kansas City, where Bruce Springsteen and Bob Marley shared bill. Elvis Presley’s Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite was NBC’s top-rated special of the year, while Elton John’s albums dominated the number one spot for two and a half months.
Just as U.S. involvement in Vietnam drew to a close, Roe v. Wade ignited a new phase in the culture war. While the oil crisis imploded the American dream of endless prosperity, and Watergate’s walls closed in on Nixon, the music of 1973 both reflected a shattered world and brought us together.
Praise for 1973: Rock at the Crossroads
“Jackson's book paints a vivid portrait of the year through the lens of popular music ― mostly rock, but also country and hip-hop … His analysis of sexuality and rock music is particularly interesting ... Jackson also proves to have a real talent for evoking the places that made 1973 such a consequential year in music.” ―NPR
“A comprehensive account of the year of 1973 and its legendary music and momentous social change.” ―Rolling Stone
“It’s the excellent―and frequently hilarious―saga of a moment when the whole sprawling pageant of pop music was one great big band on the run.” ―Rob Sheffield, author of Dreaming the Beatles
“One of the best books of 2019 … Jackson’s storytelling is so well supported and energetically told that he had my attention even when discussing artists that would normally send me rushing to my radio’s off switch.” ―Psychobabble
“Jackson’s latest is a book so abundant in fact and feelings it can serve equally as an entertaining trip back in time and an all-knowing reference source for, perhaps, the last truly triumphant year in rock-and-roll.” ―Jambands.com
“A capacious, informative, amusing, broad-minded history of the musical landscape in a single year, caught between the explosive creativity of the past and the corporatized near-future. Read it and rediscover one of the great years in musical history." ―Saul Austerlitz, author of Just a Shot Away and Generation Friends
“Jackson not only weaves the sounds of the times into a shared tapestry, but provides an illuminating portrait of a particularly weird and wonderful year.” ―Erik Davis, author of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies
“Jackson makes a good case for this as one of the most pivotal in terms of the art, commerce and personalities.” ―The Oakland Press
“A joy to be read.” ―Tulsa Book Review
“A well-researched and engrossing read.” ―Harold Bronson, co-founder Rhino Records; author of My British Invasion and The Rhino Records Story
“Highly regarded as perhaps the rock book of the year,  holds something for everybody.” ―KGKS 93.9 the River
"It reads like a cracking novel, immersed in the cultural and social tumult of the times, as Jackson strolls leisurely through the chaos and minefields to deliver a series of tales of rock ‘n roll glory, transition, conflict and drama without mythologizing any of it." ―Elmore Magazine
About the Author
- ASIN : B07PBR7BL4
- Publisher : Thomas Dunne Books (December 3, 2019)
- Publication date : December 3, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 13994 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 435 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #334,397 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on May 29, 2020
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By vipor on May 29, 2020
The book is arranged in chronological order, with a small amount of overlap with 1972 and 1974. At the time of this writing, I've just finished the Spring section.
So far, it's interesting. However, at times it gets a bit sloppy. For example, there are repeated references to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, even though that title wasn't applied until the 1975 movie version was made; the stage production was called The Rocky Horror Show.
Then there's the part of Chapter 10 that talks about "yacht rock"—even though that term was never used at the time, and the author himself notes several pages after introducing the topic that the label was first used in 2005. It's not even clear why he's talking about "yacht rock" in the first place—or, for that matter, why he bothers to mention Michael McDonald in connection with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, seeing as how he didn't join Steely Dan's touring band until 1974, didn't appear on a Steely Dan record until 1975, which was the same year he joined the Doobies. In other words, Michael McDonald is irrelevant in the context of this book.
Curiously, he also notes that a couple of lyrical phrases were dropped from the US single version of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild" side, while UK censors missed them. However, he fails to note that US radio stations played the uncensored version—it's the only one I ever heard on the top 40 stations I listened to.
There is plenty of interesting stuff here. But be prepared to sift through some chaff.
As someone who remembers 1973 quite clearly, my opinion of the book will be heavily colored by that fact. One of the things happening during this time was the shift from AM stations to FM stations for rock and, eventually, other popular music. This book almost reads like a hybrid of those two formats. AM radio, while having some stations that were more narrowly focused on one type of music, was dominated by Top 40 stations, usually with a slight emphasis in one direction or another. On these stations you would hear a mix of different types of rock as well as different types of R&B and even some country. FM, starting with Album Oriented Rock stations, began the era of the separation of genres more clearly. This had positives and negatives. You could listen to more music in whatever genre you preferred, but it also meant far fewer opportunities to expand your tastes unless you consciously changed to a station playing a different genre. Which brings me to why I think of this book a lot like a hybrid of those formats.
While the book is chronological it also can't be strictly chronological and still tell a decent story. So each chapter uses something that occurred on this timeline but, in telling the story (of an album or a song), it moves back to what led to the event and moves forward to tell what it foreshadows. So each segment (of which there were several in each chapter) might be primarily about rock or R&B, the next segment often changed genres. So you did get some immersion in a specific genre but you also read about what was happening in a different genre. So many books, understandably, focus on a particular narrowly defined type of popular music, mainly because those books are telling a history of that genre. This book, because it is describing a specific and short period of history covers a wider range because that more accurately portrays what was going in most areas of the music business as well as society.
As for the actual information, there is a lot here that isn't so much new as presented within a holistic context. For example, it hadn't occurred to me that Bette Midler's Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy might not have been as popular had it been released just a little sooner while the Vietnam War was still claiming American lives. It might not have made a difference but it is something to consider. There are many such connections made in the book that make this nostalgic trip something more than just a passive ride down memory lane.
I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in the period, whether limited to music or more societal and cultural. And of course those of us of a certain age can both reminisce and learn some things.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.