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Corn Flakes with John Lennon: And Other Tales from a Rock 'n' Roll Life Paperback – October 12, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

From the Introduction by Bono:

[Hilburn] was always looking for subject matter that was fresh and patiently observed, what Van Morrison described as ‘the inarticulate speech of the heart.’ U2 was shambolic and erratic, but he seemed to see the ‘what might be’ in the ‘what was.’ Bob’s role as a critic was to encourage the suspension of disbelief not just in the audience, but in the artist as well. That is an environment in which music grows. He made us better.

So many great memories came flooding back to me when I read Corn Flakes With John Lennon. A must read for genuine music lovers. 
 --Elton John


It’s impossible to read this book and not encounter passages that surprise, sadden and hearten. It¹s also impossible to read Corn Flakes With John Lennon and not recognize Robert Hilburn as the greatest interviewer in rock & roll history.

--Mikal Gilmore, author of Shot in the Heart and Night Beat: A Shadow History of Rock and Roll

Hilburn's amazing resilience and commitment for music shines through his decades of reportage and reviews of music. On behalf of the musicians of the 60's on, I thank you for having been the communicator of our music with love.

--yoko ono summer of 2009

Beautifully written, and passionately told, this book captures the very essence of what it means to be someone who loves music.

-- Charles R. Cross, author of Heavier Than Heaven and Room Full of Mirrors.

I never gave a damn for rock criticism until I read Robert Hilburn

--Bernie Taupin

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

ROBERT HILBURN, the longtime pop music critic and editor of the Los Angeles Times, is one of the most widely read and respected pop writers of the rock and roll era. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160529165X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605291659
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #969,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Cornflakes with John Lennon is less a memoir of Robert Hilburn and more a history lesson of Contemporary music through his experiences. Most well known as the Country and Rock music reviewer for The Los Angeles Times, Hilburn gives us a good glimpse into his life experiences that started his passion for R&B and Rock music. He finishes up telling us of his experiences with many musicians he covered and the inside look he had into the music industry and its many changes.

Some of the musicians and bands you will hear the most about include: John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, The Beatles, Micheal Jackson, Janis Joplin, Elton John, Chuck D, Ice Cube, Jack White, and many more.

The viewpoints on the music industry mostly come from the views of musicians and insiders more than Hilburns personal opinion.

As a fan of rock history, this ranks right up there with the 20th anniversary 2-hour TV special of The Rolling Stones Magazine in 1987, hosted by Dennis Hopper. The insight was wonderful. Hilburn's experiences shares rock 'n roll alongside historical insights from his experiences at the time. It brings depth and meaning into the subject with a personal touch. He shows a willingness to be open minded to genres and types of popular music besides rock and roll. Hilburn goes into detail the lengths he went to to decide the legitimacy of Rap. He also discusses the criticism he received for going against societies views at the time. I greatly respect Hilburn's expectation that music should be more than superficial subjects. That music should at times be deep and give the listener something for it's soul.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I expected more from this book. For me, Hilburn offered no new insights into the music or the lives of the well known and thoroughly reported-on artists featured in this book. I have my own opinions of them, I hold most of them in high esteem as he does, and knowing that he really likes them too and has hung out with them as much as possible is neither here nor there to me. Maybe the fact that he once wrote a set list for Bob Dylan is news - okay, Mr. Hilburn, you are the coolest rock critic ever. Nor is Hilburn especially revealing - except perhaps unintentionally - or reflective about himself. He mentions almost in passing that he lost his first marriage to his relentless pursuit of the next great rock musician. Words fail me at his "wow, was I surprised" response to Phil Spector's arrest for murder, after Hilburn has just described witnessing Spector's unhinged behavior first hand. The book is smoothly written and easy to read, I cruised through it hoping it would eventually be more than it was.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just absolutely brilliant! Robert Hilburn fell into the career he was suited for: rock critic for the LA Times. Hilburn's specialty is not melody but a deep belief in lyrics. And what a perfect time for this specialty starting his career in the 60's and 70's! What sets this critic apart and makes this book so special, is that many of his subjects recognize his intelligence and form close relationships with him leading to this brilliant memoir. While the title covers Lennon, and this story provides magnificent incite, Hilburn also had long standing, unique relationships chronicled in this book with Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Bono of U2. Yes, there are many more but the insight in these legends is particularly fascinating. Close to the end he gets Dylan to agree to an interview about the songwriting process. Now that's real journalism! What a coup! His in depth discussions with both Bono and Springsteen are also fascinating.

An interesting departure in this book is his discussions about Rap Music. It would be easy for a middle age white man to see no value in this new art form that to this day inspires loath from most middle aged Americans. But Hilburn gets it and early on writes about what they are portraying and rates early Rap albums among the year's best drawing much criticism. There is a particularly compelling interview with Ice Cube on this subject.

Overall, this is one of the fastest, most inspiring books I have read in recent years that is chock full of great information. I couldn't recommend this book higher.
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Format: Hardcover
What a surprise. As many suspected, but couldn't exactly put their finger on, Robert Hilburn was keeping a secret. A three decade secret. The secret, finally revealed in this `memoir' of sorts, is that while we all thought he was the pop music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn was quietly on another mission. The search for the replacement Elvis.

As the pop (or more aptly, rock) music critic of one of the nation's largest daily broadsheets, Hilburn was charged with bringing the world of rock'n'roll to the doorsteps of his avid readers weekly and he developed a solid reputation for doing so within music circles. Over the years however, many readers began to notice the critic's seeming obsession with a small cast of characters who garnered outsized coverage often at the expense of other so-called talents. The plurality of Hilburn's coverage seemed to center around a handful of iconic figures (Springsteen, U2's Bono, Prince) as well as a coterie of other performers that played to the critic's early country leanings (John Fogerty, the Band's Robbie Robertson, and even a true country act like Waylon Jennings). While the writer certainly covered other acts (LA's "X" was a perennial favorite as was P.J. Harvey in his latter day writings), most acts escaped much of his purview presumably due to his judgment as to their lesser cultural importance. (In these pages, Clapton, R.E.M., Pearl Jam and The Clash collectively get less mentions than a single Springsteen album, `Nebraska,' while Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd simply don't exist.)

In "Cornflakes with John Lennon: And Other Tales from a Rock `n' Roll Life," we now have the answer, the reason, the motivation for it all.
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