Gerri Hirshey reveals in We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The True, Tough Story of Women in Rock that the press coverage of women in "rock" in 1997 was one of the reasons she wrote this book. Her point is to establish that women were always there in "rock." [Hershey's use of the term "rock" is elastic enough to include Mariah Cover and Celine Dion among others.]
The full title of her book is We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The True, Tough Story of Women in Rock. After reading the book, you may feel the full title of the book should be: We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The True, Tough Story of Women in Rock and the Clothes They Wore And the Way They Did Their Hair and Makeup.
If you're interested in hearing about the evolution of the Ronettes hair, then this is the book for you. Hirshey also manages to get Ronnie Spector on record discussing the very important musical issue of "eye liner" at length.
Hirshey appears defensive early in the book when she explains that clothes and make up are so very important. Why even James Brown has told her about the first outfit he wore on stage. That may be so but neglects to mention the outrage of Rolling Stone readers when Hirshey's Rolling Stone Interview with Tina Turner graced the magazine in the eighties. Readers used to a comprehensive discussion of the musician's recordings (past and present) were distressed to find nothing on music but everything on clothes. Hirshey breathlessly panting over the skirt Tina wore to Live Aid demonstrated the obvious limitations of her reporting. Surely, any other RS interviewer bringing up Live Aid might have asked about the humanitarian nature of the concerts themselves or about how you connect with an audience when you are one of many performers and your on stage time is so brief.
Leave it to Hirshey to focus on Tina's skirt and set the record for all time worst Rolling Stone Interview. (One wisely left out of the book The Rolling Stone Interviews: The 1980s.)
Her focus on fashion at the expense of music should cause her to feel defensive when writing a book on music. More to the point, her glaring lack of music history should embarrass her. I stopped counting factual errors in this book after I reached one hundred. But I was left with the clear impression that Hirshey knows little about popular music (rock, pop, soul or whatever).
More importantly, I was left wondering whether or not The Atlantic Monthly Press bothers to employ a fact checker?
Two examples out of a over a hundred:
1) On Dusty Springfield, Hirshey tosses out that the "finest example of what would become known as 'blue-eyed soul' was her 1968 album, Dusty in Memphis." That will certainly be "news" since Dusty in Memphis came out in 1969.
2) Writing on Carole King, Hirshey notes the song writing partnership with Goffin at the beginning of King's career. Hirshey's wrong that Goffin & King wrote only for girl groups.
(Even if one omits later hits for The Byrds, Aretha Franklin and the Monkees, the fact remains that from the start Goffin & King wrote for Tony Orlando, Bobby Vinton, etc as well as for girl groups.) But more distressing is the fact that three times she mentions Goffin and never once gets his first name correct. His name is "Gerry Goffin," not "Jerry Goffin." A Rolling Stone contributing editor should know better.
A larger issue is the coverage of women. Please note, there's no evaluation of music, no serious discussion on anything. She does "shout outs" -- as though she were writing a gossip column (Rolling Stone's Random Notes?) and not a history on women in music. While "giving her props" in this book supposedly on music, she can shout out three songs co-written by Valerie Simpson but never manage to name Simpson. The Mamas and the Papas are also ignored (Cass Elliot gets two shout outs -- both having to do with her weight). While ignoring these and other women in a book supposedly about women in music, she manages to work in multiple shouts outs to Elvis, Johnny Cash and James Dean. (Dean qualifies for this book how?)
A book concerned with establishing the fact that women have always been a part of popular music needs to do a better job covering the women; and when setting history right is the goal, a writer needs to have the facts right. Hershey fails on both counts. Anyone with even a basic understanding of popular music in the last forty years will find this a frustrating read as Hershey mangles facts and ignores a large number of women who contributed to popular music to instead note the "importance" of Marlon Brando wearing blue jeans.