An intense, detailed account of the most exciting, creative and downright disorderly years in music history, all taking place in the mother of artistic anarchy: New York City, baby!
Between 1974- 1978 New York City was the playground for America’s carefree creatives. A wave of free spirits and freethinkers were abandoned and directionless after the 1960s hippie movement. The Beatles and The Velvet Underground had split and the world had lost Jimi, Janis, and Jim. The music scene had become as repetitive as an Andy Warhol canvas, and people were eager for what NYC had to offer next.
As far as I’m concerned, if a book references Talking Heads in the title, you’re onto win. But Love Goes to Buildings on Fire digs far deeper into the city’s musical history than simply new wave and post-punk. Sorry, Mr Byrne. In five years, New York was home to a dysfunctional family of punk, disco, jazz, salsa, hip-hop, and even more noise that didn’t have a name yet, heck, the people making it weren’t even sure.
Some of the most prominent names in music were making their way in NYC. Bruce Springsteen-brimming with bravado was causing a stir on the circuit, armed with a notebook of poems Patti Smith was infiltrating the punk scene, and 13-year-old Joseph Sadler was in his basement testing out turntables, a.k.a Grandmaster Flash.
Set against a volatile backdrop of economic ruin and social chaos, Hermes has inadvertently written a New York eulogy. He has unforgivingly captured his birthplace’s cruel yet colourful history, all described in intense detail, from New York Dolls’ outrageous stage costumes, the dinge of CBGB’s and decadence of Max’s.
Hermes has crammed the most electrifying years of music into 300 well-researched pages, from punk poetry to minimalist wizardry there’s something in New York’s reckless past for everyone. Buy this book, and then feed your record collection.
Check it out if you enjoyed-
Please Kill Me by Legs Mcneil and Gillian McCain
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Written for WaterstonesNG and waterstones.com