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Fire and Rain Hardcover – 23 Jun 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (23 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306818507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306818509
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 16 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 660,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"(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."

"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."

About the Author

David Browne is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of three books: Dream Brother (2001), Amped (2004), and Goodbye 20th Century (2008). He also contributes to the New York Times, NPR, and other outlets. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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
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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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