The Fine Wisdom and Perfect Teachings of the Kings of Rock and Roll: A Memoir

Overview

After graduating from college in 1974, Mark Edmundson leaves Vermont to seek his destiny—a quest he knows involves rock and roll and America's high court of mischief and ambition, New York City. Shepherded by a carousing, Marx-quoting friend, he moves into a grungy apartment and embarks on a dream career lugging amps for rock's biggest stars: the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and the Allman Brothers.

But as time wears on, Edmundson finds himself at odds with life in his adopted ...

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The Fine Wisdom and Perfect Teachings of the Kings of Rock and Roll: A Memoir

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Overview

After graduating from college in 1974, Mark Edmundson leaves Vermont to seek his destiny—a quest he knows involves rock and roll and America's high court of mischief and ambition, New York City. Shepherded by a carousing, Marx-quoting friend, he moves into a grungy apartment and embarks on a dream career lugging amps for rock's biggest stars: the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and the Allman Brothers.

But as time wears on, Edmundson finds himself at odds with life in his adopted city and drifts through a regimen of late-night cab driving and radical politics, increasingly detached from the hopes he nursed back in school. Prodded and enlightened along the way by a cast of rogue mentors—his "Kings (and Queens) of Rock and Roll"—Edmundson checks out of New York and careens across the country in search of the elusive "it": the perfect vocation, his slightly crazy, ideal way of life.

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Editorial Reviews

(3 1/2 stars) - Rolling Stone
"Not your typical rock tell-all. . . . An entertaining coming-of-age story that cloaks a social critique of post-Sixties USA."
Michael Pollan
“Everything you want a coming-of-age book to be: hilarious, harrowing, and ultimately inspiring. . . . Brims with sparkling observations about everything from drugs, sex and rock and roll to movies, career, and friendship. Truly, there is something arresting and wonderful on every page.”
Philipp Meyer
“A compelling and accomplished memoir recounting the dissolution of the sixties and the beginning of the modern, more cynical era that followed. . . Candidly describes Mark Edmundson’s journey as a lost twenty-something seeking meaning through sex, drugs, Marxism, rock & roll, and ultimately, teaching.”
Matthew Crawford
“Edmundson doesn’t just chronicle, he channels, the epoch of rock.... He makes us feel its hopes; its confusions; its genuine revelations…. Concert security dude, cabbie, bouncer: these jobs provide him critical lenses on a succession of cultural moments, and on the never-ending task of becoming an adult.”
Rolling Stone (3 ½ stars)
“Not your typical rock tell-all. . . . An entertaining coming-of-age story that cloaks a social critique of post-Sixties USA.”
Howard Hampton
Mark Edmundson's book The Fine Wisdom and Perfect Teachings of the Kings of Rock and Roll has alert, rueful-earnest prose to go with its overblown title, a nice retrospective feel for youthful appetites (more metaphysical than sensual), though rock is primarily a signpost in his coming-of-age-in-the-1970s story. Edmundson may lean more toward Woody Allen than Warren Zevon, but in his wide-eyed receptivity to whatever fortune comes his way, his youthful self might have stepped out of a dozen early Jackson Browne tunes.
—The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
Edmundson (English/University of Virginia; The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days, 2007, etc.) delivers a wily, playful, self-denigrating memoir. In this erudite, coming-of-age riot, the author deftly navigates the purgatorial rites of passage between university and professional life, developing insightful social critiques and candid self-evaluations along the way. After graduating from a collegiate "hippie" hideout in Vermont (Bennington), the author drifted into seedy, mid-'70s Manhattan. There he met Pelops, his streetwise guide who disapproved of the author's bourgeois character but took the young Edmundson under his gargantuan wing, shoveling generous piles of philosophy, particularly Marx, onto his plate. Pelops also hooked him up with a job as a roadie for rockers like Alice Cooper and the Allman Brothers at Roosevelt Stadium in New Jersey. As the memoir develops, however, the famous lyricists and musicians of the introductory chapters recede into the background. Edmundson writes that "rock recharges the Will . . . the appetites for pleasure, power, sex, fun, freedom, what have you." Though the "kings of rock and roll" hand over the tools and lyrical schematics, writes the author, the rest is up to us. Inspiration springs from every page, as the author revels in his renaissance-manliness-"how many other bouncers stand at the door of the discotheque and memorize Browning poems?"-and proves to be an honest, poetic and hilariously entertaining narrator. A near-perfect memoir. Author appearances in Virginia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061713491
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/10/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 964,659
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Edmundson is a professor at the University of Virginia and the prizewinning author of numerous works of cultural criticism, including Why Read?; Literature Against Philosophy, Plato to Derrida; and Teacher. He lives in Batesville, Virginia.

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Table of Contents

Beginnings (hot shits) 1

1 The King of Rock and Roll (music) 11

2 Taxi! (money) 37

3 A Moviegoer (jobs) 67

4 Life Drugs, Death Drugs (consciousness) 93

5 How to Leave New York (nature) 117

6 Disco Nights (eros) 141

7 School Days (depression) 165

8 Woodstock II (vocation) 191

acknowledgments 225

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