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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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“[Browne’s] attention to detail lends this compelling book a depth and richness rarely found in rock biography.”
“A fascinating look at an era when an artist's reputation was built not on social media sites, but on the music itself.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Relix, October/November 2011
Stuff I Like (blog), 11/27/11
“Evocative and splendidly written.”
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.”
“[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.”
“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.”
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.”
“Eminently readable….Browne’s engrossing account of this fertile but volatile period sets the standard by which comprehensive musical histories should be judged.”
“Chronicled capital-R rock music’s transition from late 1960s insurrection to early 1970s introspection.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
About the Author
Top customer reviews
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.
Nixon was president. The Beatles were breaking up. The Vietnam war was raging. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young were touring. Campuses were in revolt. Drugs were everywhere and getting stronger. James Taylor was trending. The albums released in 1970 represent some of the most influential music ever. Bridge Over Troubled Water. Deja Vu. Let it Be. Sweet Baby James. Just to name a few.
Rock and roll was moving from smallish venues like the Fillmore East and West to arenas. The music business was getting almost as big as some of the artists' egos and appetites.
The sixties were becoming the seventies. The end of innocence had arrived.
Browne is a gifted reporter who writes with insight and feeling with a "you are there" approach to the history. His source material is excellent, often first hand. He also provides a great list of web sites and references for those of us who are fascinated with this period in history.
Excellent read if you love the music and want to peak behind the curtain of a fascinating time.
Perhaps the breakup of the Beatles left a vacuum that allowed some of this to happen. Perhaps the creative forces would have come to light even if the Beatles had stayed together. The number of possible causes is off the scale. No matter what, there was a palpable shift that set the stage for much of what happened in music for the rest of the '70s and into the early '80s. This was the soundtrack to my teens and early adulthood and I still love this music.
This book is paced well and delivers the information in an interesting manner. The level of detail is realistic, enough to convey the information without belaboring the subject. IOW, it's a good read that neither bores or fatigues its readers. The information seems well researched and accurate, not to mention that the author seems to understand the color of the times he is writing about. Many people writing about the social tumult of the late '60s idealize the time and fail to realize that it wasn't just flower children and love-ins. I felt that this book didn't fall into that trap; it was respectful of the ideals of the time without falling victim to the euphoric recall that seems to have overtaken so many that try to explain it.
It was a trying time for people on both sides of the social chasm and the introspective music that emerged in 1970 was a refuge from the angst that had all but defined the late '60s. The problems were still happening but people needed a break. Social consciousness gave way to self consciousness.
It's a great book.
David Browne does occasionally touch upon the politics and social aspects of life in 1970 but this book is mainly about the music of these particular artists. I found it a well-written, relatively unbiased account one of the major turning points in music's history.