Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 13 July 2015

1970: Fire and rain

Many thanks to Colin for sending me this treat: the very readable FIRE AND RAIN, or to give it its full title: FIRE AND RAIN, THE BEATLES, SIMON & GARFUNKEL, JAMES TAYLOR, C S N Y AND THE LOST STORY OF 1970. Its a fascinating 2011 tome by David Browne chronicling that fascinating year in music (and movies and popular culture) 1970 as he focuses on the inter-twined fortunes of these musicians and their latest opuses. Other characters like Joni Mitchell flit in and out too ... 

These iconic acts of the '60s are at last wrapping up major new releases. The Beatles assemble one more time to put the final touches to LET IT BE. Crosy Stills Nash and Young finish their highly anticipated DEJA VU. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel finally complete their masterpiece BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER. (Paul referred to the title track as his "Yesterday"). Meanwhile on the sidelines, a shy upstart singer-songwriter named James Taylor is trying to write one more song to finalize an album called SWEET BABY JAMES. Over the course of the next twelve months, the lives of these remarkable musicians  - and the world around them - will change irrevocably. 
Acclaimed journalist David Browne sets the stories of those rock legends - and legends-to-be - against an increasingly chaotic backdrop of end-of-the-'60s events that sent the world spinning throughout that tumultuous year. The first book on the musical, political and cultural changes of 1970 FIRE AND RAIN tells the story of four landmark albums, the intertwining personal ties ties between the legendary artists who made them, and the ways in which their songs and journeys mirrored the end of one era and the start of another. Browne avoids sentimentality and nostalgia, aiming instead at a fresh look at the bands and their milieu. Some of the period details are almost astonishingly apt. says the blurb.  Below: Joni's album art for the CSNY album:

I was 24 then and in the thick of it all. 1970 was quite a year for me too - all that music, those movies still around like FELLINI SATYRICON and ZABRISKIE POINT. There were lots of Trash movies too, like Helmut's DORIAN GRAY. I was sharing a large flat with two friends in South London - here I am on the balcony leading down to the garden, plus some other shots from that year ..... My best friend Stan and I left the flat that summer to travel in Europe - my first trip to Paris, we walked all over the city and yes, slept under the bridges, then the train south and into Spain .... on return to London I rejoined my hippie friends (whom I saw The Doors & Jefferson Airplane with in 1968) in their rambling apartment until I left and found my own place for 1971. 
So it goes. 1970 was also the year I was at the British Film Institute cinema, the NFT, a lot, meeting and seeing and talking to Lee Remick and Dirk Bogarde among others, and standing next to Leonard Whiting in the gents urinal! plus seeing The Burtons and Joseph Losey on stage at the "Sunday Times" Cinema City Exhibition. I had also discovered Joni Mitchell by then, we liked her first two albums, and then saw her at her Royal Festival Hall concert later that year, from where I was sitting I could see the hippie princess waiting in the wings to go on - that was a fantastic evening too of course, little did I know I would be talking to her two years later when I met her purely by chance in the Kings Road (as per Joni label).
This book though captures it all - I loved the James Taylor album, and its follow-up MUD SLIDE SLIM, I was not really into CYNY but loved Young's voice and solo albums. We also had the Simon & Garfunkel and Beatles albums of course - this was the time When Albums Ruled The World! This of course was before the internet and social media, when the music spoke for itself. This is a fascinating rock book as Browne unearths a wealth of new material on performers one thought one knew more than enough about, for instance fascinating reading again on the mutual antagonism between Simon and Garfunkel. The Rolling Stones though do not get a look-in here. Left: Joni and James recording backup vocals on Carole King's TAPESTRY

1 comment:

  1. Martin Bradley16 July 2015 at 10:55

    Speak of devils and they will appear! There I was saying how I would love to have known you as a trendy young thing and here you are as a trendy young thing! And very handsome, too. I never had to sleep under a bridge but I did spend the night in Waverly Station on the platform (and got robbed) and I did sleep under an up-turned rowing boat at an all night party! But enough of us! The book looks great and one to get. It makes me want to go back to that year and dig out all the music that was released as these were my songs back then. I know I don't visit your blog nearly often enough but it is always a treat to read; you really do write very well. :)