Sunday, July 6, 2014

There Goes Gravity

Lisa Robinson has been on Led Zeppelin's private plane, in Mick Jagger's hotel room, had Lou Reed hanging out in her apartment and had Lady Gaga cook pasta. She went to CBGB's and Max's Kansas City nearly every night. She's interviewed John Lennon, Michael Jackson, and Bono. She currently writes a column for Vanity Fair and oversees the photo shoot for Vanity Fair's annual music issue. She's written about music for over 40 years and has just written There Goes Gravity:  A Life In Rock and Roll. I read good reviews of it and decided to give it a try and wasn't disappointed.  

Robinson starts off in 1975 with her joining the Rolling Stones' tour of the U.S and ends with her getting to know Eminem. Reading the book is like taking a historical tour of popular music. I'll be honest here and admit I skipped ahead a bit (although I went back and read the whole book) to the chapter on U2, my favorite band. As she does in the rest of the book, she pulls no punches and offers up what I think are valid criticisms of my "boys". (So, yeah, WHEN is that new album coming out again? Or as she says, "The more successful bands become the longer it takes between albums.") She also offers some very pointed criticism of Madonna (no real talent, only ambition.)

Throughout the book she talks about how much the music industry has changed, especially the touring aspect of it. She knew the end had come for her when she saw the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels tour in 1989 and was taken aback by the hugely expensive tickets (average cost $350) and the corporate-style "meet and greets" with the band. She hasn't seen the Stones in concert since then. She also talks about how what's considered an extravagance has changed over the years too. The big deal back in the day was having your own plane. These days it's having your own in-house caterer.

My one issue with the book is that the majority of it is devoted to men. The only two female artists who are discussed in depth are Patti Smith and Lady Gaga. I think this may be more of a geographical issue and not some personal bias on Robinson's part. Robinson is definitely an East Coast woman so that whole "California Rock" thing (Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, etc.) wasn't really in her neighborhood. It's interesting to me that she seems not to have run into being tagged as a groupie or some sort of hanger-on. She was already married by the time she started writing about music and her husband ran a small record label for awhile so that may have something to do with it.

What I found funny is that, like me, Robinson hates flying and will do anything to avoid it, even if it means having to take several extra days to drive somewhere rather than fly. Also, she still records all of her interviews on audio cassette. Wow! I thought I was a technological dinosaur.

I really enjoyed this book and I hope you do too!

Until next time...

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