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Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992 Paperback – 23 Oct 2009

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (23 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822344858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822344858
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.8 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"[A] sensitive and thorough biography...Tim Lawrence presents more than enough evidence to suggest that Russell belonged to that unique line of wayward American composers...who placed personal vision and relentless innovation over easy acceptance...As the author of the excellent Love Saves the Day: A History Of American Dance Music Culture 1970-1979, Lawrence is particularly adept at exploring Russell's links with the New York club scene...The connection he establishes between the haunting songs for cello and voice Russell recorded on 1986's World Of Echo, and the empty dancefloors of Lower Manhattan as AIDS starts to take its toll, is particularly affecting." --Ken Hollings, The Wire

"[H]is overriding thesis--that Russell's boundary crossing was as important as the work he made is sound, paying tribute to a man who was a connector as well as a spark." --Michaelangelo Matos, TimeOutNY

"With rich and animated detail, Tim Lawrence tracks Arthur Russell's insatiable drive to integrate so-called serious music and pop. This definitive biography is both an engrossing record of Russell's musical ambitions and a compelling account of the fertile downtown scene that supported his admirable dreams." Matt Wolf, director of Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell "Tim Lawrence has written a fascinating and insightful biography of a sensitive and searching soul. Arthur Russell was a personal artist whose musical vision led him to coexist in seemingly incompatible worlds. Through the lens of Arthur Russell's life (never clouded with material success or celebrity), Tim Lawrence gives us a sharp and singular portrait of late-twentieth-century American life. A fine read, with a depth and detail that resonate with Arthur Russell's sparkle and wit."--Peter Gordon, Love of Life Orchestra "Hold On to Your Dreams tells the story of an artist whose life becomes more intriguing with every turn. Inspiring and written with love, this book takes us to the roots of Arthur Russell's music, from the streets of New York to the cornfields of Iowa."-- --Jens Lekman, musician

Review

“[A] sensitive and thorough biography. . . . In a sense, Arthur Russell was so much a part of his times that he tended to disappear into them, blending in with so many different scenes that the camouflage seemed at times to have taken over. Lawrence notes, for example, how many previous accounts of the New York downtown scene fail to notice him at all. With Hold On to Your Dreams, the outline of an outstanding and prescient artist can now be more clearly made out.” - Ken Hollings, The Wire


“[W]hat makes this book valuable is that Russell’s shadowy ubiquity turns an ostensible biography into a first draft of that elusive comprehensive history of the downtown performing arts. Hold On to Your Dreams has to go everywhere, because that’s where Russell went. . . . [E]ven if you didn’t know about Russell and are not yet persuaded to pursue him further, this is still a book worth reading. . . . Psychologically, Russell emerges as indeed fascinating, more fascinating than his music, as a maverick without, Lawrence notes, the feisty self-righteousness such figures often embody. . . . Russell has inspired a book that helps us understand a thrilling twenty-five years of American cultural history.” - John Rockwell, Bookforum


“[An exhaustive, often spellbinding account of the life of one of music’s true maverick enigmas. . . . While the book provides many fresh insights into the 80s downtown hotbed, Russell emerges as a strange, fragile figure, in a monumental work. Hold On To Your Dreams is a captivating record of a true original’s all-too-brief life.” - Kris Needs, Record Collector


“The passionate, revelatory anecdotes collected here follow Russell through those liminal downtown nightclubs, loft spaces, and recording studios that made his life and music possible.” - Carol Cooper, Village Voice


“[A]n exemplary demonstration of exactly what a biography should do. In his rigorously researched investigation of musician and composer Arthur Russell, cultural theory lecturer Tim Lawrence effortlessly explores his subject and in so doing shines fresh light on the darkened recesses of both New York's downtown music scene and the popular cultural landscape of Russell's times. And despite Russell's relative obscurity, the book leaves you in no doubt as to how influential this maverick music figure has been.” - Martin James, Times Higher Education Supplement


Hold On to Your Dreams tells the story of an artist whose life becomes more intriguing with every turn. Inspiring and written with love, this book takes us to the roots of Arthur Russell’s music, from the streets of New York to the cornfields of Iowa.”—Jens Lekman, musician


“Tim Lawrence has written a fascinating and insightful biography of a sensitive and searching soul. Arthur Russell was a personal artist whose musical vision led him to coexist in seemingly incompatible worlds. Through the lens of Arthur Russell’s life (never clouded with material success or celebrity), Tim Lawrence gives us a sharp and singular portrait of late-twentieth-century American life. A fine read, with a depth and detail that resonate with Arthur Russell’s sparkle and wit.”—Peter Gordon, Love of Life Orchestra


“With rich and animated detail, Tim Lawrence tracks Arthur Russell’s insatiable drive to integrate so-called serious music and pop. This definitive biography is both an engrossing record of Russell’s musical ambitions and a compelling account of the fertile downtown scene that supported his admirable dreams.”—Matt Wolf, director of Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell


“[A] sensitive and thorough biography. . . . In a sense, Arthur Russell was so much a part of his times that he tended to disappear into them, blending in with so many different scenes that the camouflage seemed at times to have taken over. Lawrence notes, for example, how many previous accounts of the New York downtown scene fail to notice him at all. With Hold On to Your Dreams, the outline of an outstanding and prescient artist can now be more clearly made out.”
(Ken Hollings The Wire)

“[A]n exemplary demonstration of exactly what a biography should do. In his rigorously researched investigation of musician and composer Arthur Russell, cultural theory lecturer Tim Lawrence effortlessly explores his subject and in so doing shines fresh light on the darkened recesses of both New York's downtown music scene and the popular cultural landscape of Russell's times. And despite Russell's relative obscurity, the book leaves you in no doubt as to how influential this maverick music figure has been.”
(Martin James Times Higher Education Supplement)

“[An exhaustive, often spellbinding account of the life of one of music’s true maverick enigmas. . . . While the book provides many fresh insights into the 80s downtown hotbed, Russell emerges as a strange, fragile figure, in a monumental work. Hold On To Your Dreams is a captivating record of a true original’s all-too-brief life.”
(Kris Needs Record Collector)

“[W]hat makes this book valuable is that Russell’s shadowy ubiquity turns an ostensible biography into a first draft of that elusive comprehensive history of the downtown performing arts. Hold On to Your Dreams has to go everywhere, because that’s where Russell went. . . . [E]ven if you didn’t know about Russell and are not yet persuaded to pursue him further, this is still a book worth reading. . . . Psychologically, Russell emerges as indeed fascinating, more fascinating than his music, as a maverick without, Lawrence notes, the feisty self-righteousness such figures often embody. . . . Russell has inspired a book that helps us understand a thrilling twenty-five years of American cultural history.”
(John Rockwell Bookforum)

“The passionate, revelatory anecdotes collected here follow Russell through those liminal downtown nightclubs, loft spaces, and recording studios that made his life and music possible.”
(Carol Cooper Village Voice)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this in the sense that i love Russell's music and wanted to know more about him and what made him tick.
(You wont be reading this book unless you love the guy's music.. and if you love his music, odds on you'll want this even if you just dip into it.. or want it on yr shelf!) It's for the converted.
It aint easy going in this book- it's kinda written as if for an M.A. level crit/discussion..er.. level.. but sticking with it you are going to get a really detailed complete overview of Russell and the people in the downtown scene and the whole historical context of the time.
Like i said- hard work but i really enjoyed it and simply because there is so much of it, it enables you to spend a good hunk of time immersed in it and it is the tale of quite a curious and amazing man.
I love muso biogs and am glad someone made this much effort to write this.
I got this.. the biog of Darby Crash.. and Cope's "Repossesed" and it set me up for the whole summer.
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Simply one of the best musician biographies I've ever read, written in a clear, unpretentious yet never boring style, probing deep into both the artist's life and the wider socio-cultural context in which he lived and worked, giving us a sense of who the man was while never veering into territory that could be too intimate. It definitely made me love and value Arthur Russell's output even more than I already did before reading the book. Highly recommended indeed.
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Beautifully written and a wonderful story about a true genius. If you're interested in Arthur Russell you're going to love it.
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This arrived really quickly as a present for my brother. He loves it. It's just as it was described and was well worth the price. Thank you!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New York City Boy 26 Dec. 2009
By Gideon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At last.

Arthur Russell is definitely the most important artist to have been (re)discovered in the noughties.

Cello player, avant-garde composer, disco producer, pop/folk singer-songwriter, Mr Russell lived an interesting, busy life in New York from 1973 to 1992, straddling musical genres and mixing them with ease and depth. Although he never found the success he deserved during his lifetime, he nevertheless produced a body of work that will never cease to fascinate discerning music lovers all over the world.

This biography by Tim Lawrence - the first book ever on the Iowan maverick - is a wonderful introduction to its subject: painstakingly researched (work on it lasted for ten years), immensely readable and shot through with humanity and an acute critical eye, it will only make you love Arthur Russell and his music more, helping you understand his working methods and the tender, marvellous poetry of his lyrics.

Its merits, though, do not end here; while recounting Russell's human journey, Mr Lawrence also manages to connect it beautifully to the bubbling milieu of 70s/80s Downtown New York, thus producing a pulsating portrait of a difficult yet extremely creative part of the Big Apple.

The end result is an essential book. One that you will keep going back to time and again, a work, in short, that is totally worthy of Arthur Russell's multifarious, radiant oeuvre.

Unmissable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 4 Oct. 2016
By Bob H - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent bio of a fascinating and hard-to-pin-down guy.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Super boring book about an amazing and overlooked genius 11 Jan. 2013
By Hotrodimus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Arthur Russell is amazing, and Tim Lawrence ("Love saves the day," the best disco book written to date) is the man to really write about him. But strangely, unlike "love saves the day," the style here is complete and utterly devoid of life. It's like reading a congressional report, a completely "just the facts" account of Russell's life and career. There's not a hint of style or storytelling, just pure "Wikipedia"-dry narrative. This makes it a bit tough to swallow, but the content is so worth it.
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Arthur Russell's legacy deserves much better than this! 2 Jan. 2015
By anonymous - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This book by Tim Lawrence is indeed badly written and poorly researched.
It contains numerous factual errors and false statements.
Arthur Russell's legacy deserves much better than this!
0 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars CLEARLY FLAWED & INACCURATE! 10 Sept. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is INACCURATE. Tim Lawrence did a poor job on researching and
failed to contact the owner of the recording studio that Arthur Russell used during
the last decade of his life. Tim's book is clearly flawed. BEWARE!
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