From the Publisher
Named one of the “Best Rock Books of the Year” by Rolling Stone
“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.”
“This juicy, fascinating read transports you back to a turbulent year
Browne artfully describes the creation of these classic songs in a way that makes them seem brand-new.”
New York Daily News
“Through rich anecdotes and incisive analysis
the book threads traces of politics, but music remains its worthy focus. The form of the book, told chronologically over four seasons, lends it the compacted, real-time drama of an episode of ‘24'.”
New York Post
“Behind-the-scenes, fly-on-the-wall looks at [the artists] make it a worthwhile read.”
"Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 is a worthy addition to anyone's collection of such music histories
the nuanced account of the struggles inherent in making music is more than enough to satisfy, as are the delightful surprise connections and asides scattered throughout the book. . . . I couldn't help but be riveted by the account of this group of immensely talented people who also, when they weren't at each other's throats, seemed like they'd be cool to hang out with.”
A “Best New Summer Read”
“Its principal task is to dive into the 60s hangover on a day-to-day level, describing the tensions that drove U.S./UK rock cultureemblematized by the four artists in the subtitletoward the sweet, consoling embrace of Let It Be, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sweet Baby James, and Deja Vu,
Browne renders this somnambulant period with such care that he makes it seem alive.”
shifts between the key points smoothly. He unearths some little-told stories along the way.”
Through the lens of four fabulously successful musical acts, aRolling Stonecontributing editor looks at the moment 1960s idealism "began surrendering to the buzz-kill comedown of the decade ahead."
By decade's end, the '60s counterculture ethos of peace, love and togetherness lay pretty much in ruins. Browne (Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth, 2008, etc.) alludes to many dismal headline events that dominated the news of 1970—the shootings at Kent and Jackson State, the Manson trial, the Weather Underground's terror bombings, Apollo 13 limping home from space—but focuses here on the music makers, the most visible representatives of the youth subculture whose collaborations became every bit as dysfunctional as the Establishment they mocked. Released in 1970, the Beatles'Let It Be, Simon & Garfunkel'sBridge Over Troubled Water and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young'sDéjà vuwere their final albums together and signaled the end of an era. The early fame and the seemingly effortless camaraderie gave way to jealousy, greed, infighting and disarray. Artists turned their backs on group albums in favor of solo efforts; intimate concerts were replaced by stadium shows; outdoor festivals, attempting to duplicate Woodstock, were brushed by fans demanding free admission. Hard drugs hovered over the entire scene, crippling musicians—Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin overdosed—and addling fans. That same year, James Taylor, famously a former mental patient, himself strung out, issuedSweet Baby James, for better or worse, the herald of a softer, more relaxed vibe that would dominate the years ahead. Browne skillfully interleaves the stories of these musicians during this tumultuous year, making room for substantial walk-ons by other significant industry figures like Bill Graham, Peter Yarrow, Phil Spector, Rita Coolidge, Carole King and Joni Mitchell. Intimately familiar with the music, fully comprehending the cross-pollination among the artists, thoroughly awake to the dynamics of the decade's last gasp, the author expertly captures a volatile and hugely interesting moment in rock history.
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.