OK, I'd like to have given four-and-a-half-stars, for only one dark reason. This fine, carefully and consciously researched book is about the most salient music in 1970, which as, as David Browne notes on page 298, had a "collective message [that] couldn't be denied. Be it bands, community, the antiwar movement, none of it could be relied on anymore."
But that message was received in the fall of 1969. What's missing in this book is what happened, decisively, during the fall and winter before 1970. I was 20 years old at Woodstock, and even then, it seemed more like the Last Gathering of the Tribes than it did a signal of a new renaissance. And we all knew that the Beatles had signed off on the whole thing when Abbey Road came out that fall - "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Right, bless you, and now we're all on our own - an attitude that David Brown captures very lucidly - seeing "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "Let It Be" as the elegies they were.
The Stones' tour late that fall was a wake, the funeral being Altamont, captured in awful clarity by Stanley Booth's "True History of the Rolling Stones," which you who read this excellent book ought to read next. CSN&Y were clearly Frozen-Nosed hold-overs, and "Teach Your Children" was seen as painfully pathetic by those of us who knew a certain Dream Was mostly Over - but what wasn't at all dead in that Dream had to be kept alive, for the sake of our souls, pretty much. Except now, in 1970, only on an individual basis.
So people like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell - and the Band - exemplifying keeping yourselves and hopefully your friends together, somehow, was a way past, a way out, a way through this weird, unnecessary, inevitable collapse - of a deeply, lovingly imaginative, dis-economic, unempowered, socially valid and morally clear vision of a better humanity. Buy this book- it's the only one of its kind, and it's radically necessary cultural history.