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About Tim Riley
NPR CRITIC, EMERSON COLLEGE PROFESSOR and AUTHOR TIM RILEY reviews pop and classical music for NPR's ON POINT and HERE AND NOW. His reviews appear widely in the NEW YORK TIMES, truthdig.com, the LA REVIEW OF BOOKS, the HUFFINGTON POST, THE WASHINGTON POST, SLATE.COM and SALON.COM. He earned degrees in classical piano from Oberlin and Eastman.
Since 2009, he has taught digital journalism at Emerson College in Boston. Brown University hosted Riley as Critic-In Residence in 2008, and his first book, Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary (Knopf/Vintage 1988), was hailed by the New York Times as bringing "new insight to the act we've known for all these years..." In 2011, the New York Times hailed his John Lennon biography as a "critical tour-de-force..." His television appearances include the PBS Newshour, CBS Morning and Evening News, MTV, and the History Channel.
His current projects include the music metaportal, the RILEY ROCK INDEX, and a major new Beatles multimedia textbook (Oxford, 2019).
For a schedule of current appearances see http://timrileyauthor.com
Visit: timrileyauthor.com, @rileyrockindex
music's metaportal: the riley rock index bit.ly/rileyrockindex
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Riley portrays Lennon's rise from Hamburg's red light district to Britain's Royal Variety Show; from the charmed naivetÃ©f "Love Me Do" to the soaring ambivalence of "Don't Let Me Down"; from his shotgun marriage to Cynthia Powell in 1962 to his epic media romance with Yoko Ono. Written with the critical insight and stylistic mastery readers have come to expect from Riley, this richly textured narrative draws on numerous new and exclusive interviews with Lennon's friends, enemies, confidantes, and associates; lost memoirs written by relatives and friends; as well as previously undiscovered City of Liverpool records. Riley explores Lennon in all of his contradictions: the British art student who universalized an American style, the anarchic rock 'n' roller with the moral spine, the anti-jazz snob who posed naked with his avant-garde lover, and the misogynist who became a househusband. What emerges is the enormous, seductive, and confounding personality that made Lennon a cultural touchstone.
In Lennon, Riley casts Lennon as a modernist hero in a sweeping epic, dramatizing rock history anew as Lennon himself might have experienced it.
The book traces the Beatles' development chronologically, marking the band's involvement with world events such as the Vietnam War, strides in overcoming racial segregation, gender stereotyping, student demonstrations, and the generation gap. It delves deeply into their body of work, introducing the concepts of musical form, instrumentation, harmonic structure, melodic patterns, and rhythmic devices in a way that is accessible to musicians and non-musicians alike. Close readings of specific songs highlight the tensions between imagination and mechanics, songwriting and technology, and through the book's musical examples, listeners will learn how to develop strategies for creating their own rich interpretations of the potential meanings behind their favorite songs. Videos hosted on the book's companion website offer full definitions and performance demonstrations of all musical concepts discussed in the text, and interactive listening guides illustrate track details in real-time listening.
The unique multimedia approach of What Goes On reveals just how great this music was in its own time, and why it remains important today as a body of singular achievement.
In Fever, music critic Tim Riley argues that while political and athletic role models have let us down, rock and roll has provided enduring role models for men and women. From Elvis Presley to Tina Turner to Bruce Springsteen to Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, Riley makes a persuasive case that rock and roll, far from the corrosive force that conservative critics make it out to be, has instead been a positive influence in people's lives, laying out gender-defying role models far more enduringly than movies, TV, or "real life."