Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970by David Browne
January 1970: the Beatles assemble one more time to put the finishing touches on Let It Be; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are wrapping up Déjà Vu; Simon and Garfunkel are unveiling Bridge Over Troubled Water; James Taylor is an upstart singer-songwriter who’s just completed Sweet Baby James. Over the course/i>/i>/i>/i>/i>
January 1970: the Beatles assemble one more time to put the finishing touches on Let It Be; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are wrapping up Déjà Vu; Simon and Garfunkel are unveiling Bridge Over Troubled Water; James Taylor is an upstart singer-songwriter who’s just completed Sweet Baby James. Over the course of the next twelve months, their livesand the world around themwill change irrevocably. Fire and Rain tells the story of four iconic albums of 1970 and the lives, times, and constantly intertwining personal ties of the remarkable artists who made them. Acclaimed journalist David Browne sets these stories against an increasingly chaotic backdrop of events that sent the world spinning throughout that tumultuous year: Kent State, the Apollo 13 debacle, ongoing bombings by radical left-wing groups, the diffusion of the antiwar movement, and much more.
Featuring candid interviews with more than 100 luminaries, including some of the artists themselves, Browne's vivid narrative tells the incredible story of howover the course of twelve turbulent monthsthe '60s effectively ended and the '70s began.
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.
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.”
“Highly readable shifts between the key points smoothly. He unearths some little-told stories along the way.”
- Da Capo Press
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- 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
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Meet the Author
David Browne is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of three books: Dream Brother (2001), Amped (2004), and Goodbye 20th Century (2008). He also contributes to the New York Times, NPR, and other outlets. He lives in New York City.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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If you are a fan of any of the bands and/or singers listed in the title, then this is a book for you. Readers follow the descent of the Beatles, the quick rise and fall of CSNY, Simon and Garfunkel's fall and Simon's singular rise, and James Taylor's ascent into the singer/songwriter world of music. We're given glimpses into their personal lives and the way their lives and music tangled together, then came apart. 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.
The author jumps around too much in his writing. It's not that I couldn't keep up with the information (I mean, really, what's to keep with - nothing new was revealed). It was so fragmented - no glue to hold the story together. I found myself jumping ahead to see if the book was gonna improve. Well, folks, it didn't. Sure wish I'd read the sample before buying. And that's another issue - why the high price for an ebook?!
With great style and incredible detail, Fire and Rain really captivates what most music lovers probably don't realize was a pretty big year...I didn't. With great ease and seamless transitions, you'll be reading about the Beatles then jump to JT then CSNY to Simon & Grafunkel then back again. Music, sex, drugs, and great short sections on the world events that coincided with the making of some real classics. An entertaining and easy read...and count the number of times you say, "wow, I didn't know that!"
Thanks for the sample B&N...Well written and extremely interesting. But, it's too much for an ebook. You have gone beyond the tipping point. Sell the book for less than $10 and more folks would buy it...jb
I do not know the race of the writer, but to judge by his taste , he is as lilly white as his favorite artists. He seems totally ignorant of black artists and their music in 1970, except to point out that the bassist for CSNY was Afro-American. There are countless soul artists who were great in 1970. Take a pick among the great rhythm and blues artists who excelled that year: ISAAC HAYES , JAMES BROWN, CURTIS MAYFIELD AND IMPRESSIONS, SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE, JACKSON 5. ALSO WHITE SOUL MEN LIKE ROD STEWART AND VAN MORRISON. THERE WAS ALSO MILES DAVIS CREATING A NEW GENRE FUSION. The title is an apt one for the book because it deserves to be set aflame like young men burning their draft cards and then quickly doused so it won't blaze. Don't waste your money on it but instead get ROB KIRKPATRICK'S SUPERIOR BOOK ON 1969. BETTER YET IS TO GET MOONDANCE, THE BEST RECORD OF 1970.