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Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970
 
 

Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 [Kindle Edition]

David Browne
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Review

"(S)een through the prism of these four pillars, 1970 comes across as pretty bleak; entropy, fading greatness, opportunities squandered and irreconcilable differences of personality. Heroic friendships and grand passions - Lennon & McCartney; Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash; Simon & Garfunkel - are crushed by the pressures of fame and success. Volatile, vulnerable personalities such as James Taylor (who tried several times to destroy himself by violent means) overcome narcosis and self-doubt just enough to deliver a hit record." --Word Magazine

"(H)ow on earth can there be anything more to say about The Beatles, James Taylor or the individual components that formed CSNY? The answer is... quite a lot, as it happens. At least, quite a lot David Browne's skilful hands... Browne is an excellent writer and tells this story very well..."

--The Record Collector

"This tight but varied focus and Browne's prose make for an engaging take on a year which included the Beatles' splitting up."
--The Metro

"(Browne's) attention to detail lends this compelling book a depth and richness rarely found in rock biography."
--Financial Times

"This tight but varied focus and Browne's prose make for an engaging take on a year which included the Beatles' splitting up."
--Metro

"The welter of detail that Browne has amassed about (the bands) intertwined lives is truly astonishing - you will be repeatedly gobsmacked at what you didn't know about the chemistry and the chemicals... (Fire & Rain is) a riveting portrayal of the various musical, social and political strands that made 1970 such a tumultuous year in America."
--Classic Rock

"As a reporter, Browne is dogged and earnest; as a profile writer, crisp and professional. As Fire & Rain jaunts from London to Laurel Canyon, Browne drops in memorable details..."
--The Scotsman

"(A) decent historical account of that year's events...Through numerous interviews and painstaking research, Browne has built up a forensic picture of these 12 months, and allows us to become flies on the wall at recording sessions, band meetings, public appearances and backstage at concerts."
--The Irish Times

"Fire and Rain succeeded in ... send(ing) me back to albums - CSN&Y's Déjà Vu, Taylor's Sweet Baby James, S&G's Bridge Over Troubled Water - that had lain undisturbed through half a lifetime. For all the instability and over-indulgence of the times in which they were produced, they turn out to have aged, in the main, surprisingly well."
--Guardian

Product Description

Set against a backdrop of world-changing historical and political events, Fire and Rain tells the extraordinary story of one pivotal year in the lives and music of four legendary artists, and reveals how these artists and their songs both shaped and reflected their times. Drawing on interviews, rare recordings, and newly discovered documents, acclaimed journalist David Browne “allows us to see—and to hear—the elusive moment when the ’60s became the ’70s in a completely fresh way” (Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1682 KB
  • Print Length: 394 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0306820722
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (24 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008X5XWX6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #219,812 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fire and Rain 5 Feb 2012
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the musical story of 1970, concentrating on the making of four albums: Let it Be by the Beatles, Bridge over troubled water by Simon and Garfunkel, Sweet Baby James by James Taylor and Deja Vu by CSNY. 1970 was a year in which two of those groups fell apart, one achieved success and then collapsed and another, James Taylor, broke through with a successful album. It was a year when the Beatles went into freefall and the author relates the various issues - the end of the Apple dream, solo albums (including the arguments over the release dates of the McCartney album), John's primal scream therapy, etc.

The whole saga of CSNY's tour is described, including the lack of rehearsals which resulted in the first show ending with Crosby, Neil and Young flying to LA and leaving Stills to head to the soundcheck in Chicago only to find the show had been cancelled. After threats from promoters, they agreed to resume the tour. Meanwhile, Paul Simon was becoming irritated by Art Garfunkel's disappearance to make films. Unhappy about having to work around a partner, Simon ended the year by deciding to make records on his own. There is also the inter-twined story of James Taylor and manager Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon fame and who sensibly decided to leave the debacle that was Apple) and his rather reluctant path to success.

It is interesting to read how all these great musicians intersected - having the same girlfriends, hanging out together, competing and also, often, combining to make wonderful music. Still, the year ended in December with Paul McCartney having writs delivered to Lennon, Harrison, Starr and Klein. As Stills recalled, "The Let it Be stuff was overhanging the whole year, that they were basically ready to kill each other," and that "it permeated the whole industry". This is a fascinating account of that year of excess and personal trauma and the music that was made, almost despite the problems facing the people involved.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting rock history 4 Aug 2011
By Bodhi Heeren TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This very well written and entertaining book chronicles in novelist fashion four groundbreaking albums: "Deja Vu" (CSNY), "Sweet Baby James" (James Taylor), "Bridge Over Troubled Water"(Simon & Garfunkel) and "Let It Be".

Actually the focus is not so much on the albums themselves - Brownes interpretations of the various songs are surely one of the weaker aspects of the book - but more the tumultous lifes of the involved artists. All 3 bands at the verge of break up and breakdown, leaving James Taylor in many ways as the 'hero' of the story.

No doubt David Browne has put lots of effort and research into this work, though apparently CSN are the only ones who have actually wanted to participate in the books making. He also succesfully manages to put the music in to a larger perspective: Nixon, Vietnam war, bombings running rampant in the US (a rather forgotten aspect of the times), the killings at US university campuses by the national guard, the Mason family.

In the end though he doesn't really make it evident why such brilliant and long lasting Art could grow out of all this trivial in-fighting and dope misuse. The idea that perhaps Art is a sphere of it's own with its owm laws seem foreign to him. Which might be connected with his disdain for the more spiritual aspects of these artists as when he says that '..he[Phil Spector] even made the chant "Hare Krishna" in "My Sweet Lord" palatable'.

A fine read for anyone into rock history and ofc for anyone interested in these four formidable acts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I always thought that I'd see you again 5 Aug 2013
By Jeremy Walton TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Here's a book which tells the story of a year in the life of four musical acts: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles and James Taylor. The year is 1970, and the four albums they are working on (Deja Vu, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Let It Be and Sweet Baby James) would all go on to become amongst the best-loved and most popular records of all time. It was also the year in which each of the three ensembles would break up, and the author describes how this happened in detail - concentrating particularly on the way the members of The Beatles pulled the group apart, leaving the fragmented and unsatisfactory "Let It Be" to be re-worked for release by Phil Spector (whose arrangement of "The Long And Winding Road" came as an unpleasant surprise to Paul McCartney, resulting in further divisions between him and his colleagues).

By contrast, the split between Simon and Garfunkel seems to have been as allusive and underplayed as one of their delicate songs - "The Dangling Conversation", for example. And CSNY could be viewed as barely having been together in the first place: although "Deja Vu" is probably a stronger record than their groundbreaking debut album, Browne shows that it resulted from a much reduced degree of collaboration, which only decreased during their subsequent tour in support of the record.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  95 reviews
59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interestingly interwoven 6 Jun 2011
By D. Tuttle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you were in JR. High and High School between 1968-1977 or so and collected and enjoyed the music of the talents mentioned in the title, then you'll enjoy this book. Like many geezers my age (52), these acts were, among others, the soundtrack of my youth and reading the particulars behind the music was an enjoyable journey to the past. I've been reading a number of musical biographies lately, 'you never give me your money' (beatles), 'The bitch is back' (Elton John), 'Broken Music' (Sting), all have been interesting and this one was no exception. I recommend it without reservation.
53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Music Fan 27 May 2011
By Kathleen Whaley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Thank you, David Browne, for capturing the essence of this time for those who remember, and describing it beautifully for those who don't.

This book crafts a gorgeous narrative of four artists whose work dovetailed and really defined at least one generation. Browne's research is extensive and the facts uncovered are a goldmine. Definitely a compelling read for all people who listen to music, of any age.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you were there, this book takes you back there. 15 Jun 2011
By Tom Dupree - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's been a long time since I had a *better* time reading a book than David Browne's FIRE AND RAIN. I gulped it down in two sittings and still wanted more.

I was 20 in Mr. Browne's target year, I had just gotten my first auto-changing turntable, and we had a groundbreaking FM rock station in town, whose playlists came to be cited in the national trades. I reveled in all the music: I was an intense fan of all four acts he explores, and I read about them and others in the new, hip mag Rolling Stone. Pop music was one of the most important things in my cultural life back then, and I did pay attention to details - but Mr. Browne went far beyond. His research is amazing. I learned stuff I didn't know in every single chapter. He took me onstage for shows I only dreamed about from far-off Mississippi. I personally think the Seventies began in 1972, with McGovern's defeat, but Mr. Browne makes a compelling case for 1970 itself, at least where pop music is concerned. If you care[d] at all about the genre in 1970, you will not be able to put this thing down.

Full disclosure: I edited Mr. Browne's first book, DREAM BROTHER, but I had nothing to do with this one. Too bad: it's still a muggafugga.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Counterculture's Collapse 23 Jun 2011
By J. W. Mahoney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1970: The Musical Torch is Passed! 23 Jun 2011
By Michael OConnor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
David Browne's evocative, insightful FIRE AND RAIN takes the reader on a magical mystery tour through the musical and societal upheavals that took place in 1970. 1970 was one of those landmark years that many of us would like to forget, a 'bummer' year beset by struggle, strife, sex, drugs and rock 'n roll beginnings and endings. Against the backdrop of an imploding America, music critic David Browne charts the varying fortunes of the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and James Taylor. The times they were a'changing and Browne poignantly captures it all in this 2011 Da Capo Press release.

Musically, in 1970: the Beatles, ostensibly putting the final touches on their 'Let It Be' album, were about to crash and burn. So too were Simon & Garfunkel, set to release 'Bridge over Troubled Water.' A new super-group - CSN&Y - with the warmest harmonies this side of heaven was blossoming and already beginning to self-destruct! And a sweet-voiced, stone-faced troubador named James Taylor was inching his way into the American consciousness. As if that wasn't enough, sweeping changes were taking place in the music industry. Far more important changes were taking place in American life. The anti-war movement was floundering with a lunatic fringe carrying out a bombing campaign nationwide. Students were killed at Kent State. Three astronauts almost died on Apollo 13 and so on. In short, 1970 was a wild-and-crazy year.

FIRE AND RAIN captures all of 1970's craziness, sweetness, sadness and confusion in an affectionate, compelling style. Impeccably researched, Browne's book is a great read. Highly recommended.
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