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Book Details

Title:   Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever
Author:   Will Hermes
Times Read:   1
Last Read:   05.18.22

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Notes History
Date Read Note
05.18.22 The last in a trilogy of NYC music scene books I had lined up. This one takes the years 73 - 77 and examines a horizontal rather than vertical, meaning it covers what was going on everywhere within NYC music at that time: not just the punk stuff but also hip hop, salsa, jazz, disco, and contemporary classical with people like Spingsteen and Laurie Anderson thrown in the mix as well. In addition, it has mentions of the political and social landscape peppered in for context, stuff like the city's financial problems, the son of sam killer, the 77 blackout... all that stuff. It's an interesting look that I guess shows the bursting creativity going on in all sectors at that time, but - I get that this is an unfair criticism - I found myself liking the non-music stuff very much. I think there could've been more of that: what was the popular movie that month? tv show? what was dominating the news? I get that the book is about the music, but i dunno... if the point of the book is to contextualize everything together, more context couldn't hurt.

That aside, I thought this was pretty good. It's substantially dryer than Please Kill Me (but what isn't?), and it's weird reading familiar bits due to that book being sighted and quoted in this one, but it's still good. I will say, for the genres that I didn't know so much about (particularly the salsa and jazz), I was lost much of the time. I got all the names confused and had a hard time keeping track of what was really happening. Thankfully, the classical stuff revolved around minimalist composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich, who are like the only two contemporary composers that I know so I found that stuff interesting, but really all I got out of the jazz stuff is that they played in lofts(?) and that salsa was invented in nyc(?). I'm sure I would've gotten more out of it if I followed up on all the names mentioned and listened to their stuff, but I was doing that to other bands albums instead.

It is quite a marvel that so much across such a broad spectrum of music happened in one place at one time and this book shows that off more than the other two I read right before it. Good stuff, but I'm definitely ready to read about something else for a while.

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