Tag Archives: Rock and Roll

Gelnn C. Altschuler – All Shook Up (2003)

AllShookUpLooking at how Rock ‘N Roll changed the world, Glenn C. Altschuler, in his book, focuses exclusively on the 1950s, the decade in which he deems Rock N’ Roll music was born. I think that he is correct in this assessment, although I did have some issues with his narrow view.

This is a relatively compact read. Each chapter tackles a different social issue including race, sexuality, and the generational gap. He writes that Rock ‘N Roll entered directly into Cold War controversies ongoing at the time and appealed to the new generation of baby boomers growing up in America. I enjoyed his discussions of various musical personalities including Elvis and Perry Como, to inspirational artists like Fats Domino and Willie Mae Thornton. Even though Altschuler talks about how Rock ‘N Roll was both a form of sexual expression and sexual control, he doesn’t explicitly tackle the nuances of gender. How Rock ‘N Roll was a heavily male dominated sphere and women could only enter into it by playing virginal maids, a la Diana Ross and the Supremes. He briefly mentions the Ronettes, but says nothing about the backlash that occurred over the lyrics to “Be My Baby”

I do think that the 1950s may have been the most important decade for Rock ‘N Roll, but I also wish that Altschuler had extended his range past the 1950s and into the 60s, 70s, and beyond. Even though the Rock ‘N Roll’s formative years may have ended, it certainly did not and continued, as it continues today, to be a vehicle for protest and social change.

Pattie Boyd – Wonderful Tonight (2007)

WonderfulTonightFor those unfamiliar with Pattie Boyd, she is most famous for being both the wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, inspiring a slew of famous songs in her wake (Something, Layla, Wonderful Tonight). In her memoirs she tells of her experiences with both men in her own words.

Obviously there are always different sides to different stories regarding what actually transpired. Pattie Boyd was probably slammed in the media for leaving George Harrison for Eric Clapton, and here in her own writing, Boyd has the chance to justify her actions, not that they need justification to begin with.

While Boyd is writing in a way that puts her in a slightly better light, I think that everyone has to acknowledge that being in a relationship with such creative people would not be an easy task. She details how difficult life was married to George, a member of the most influential rock band, and then with Eric Clapton. While sometimes the book can be a little too “woe is me,” I don’t think that Boyd is overstating the challenges she faced in her relationship with both these men.

What I liked the most about this book was the fact that even though Pattie Boyd was the inspiration behind so many famous songs, she does not take the credit for them and states quite openly that the songs were only written due to the immense talent that both these men possessed.

Overall I liked her writing and it provides a good insight into the world of the 1960s-1970s British rock scene.

Pamela Des Barres – I’m With the Band (1987)

ImWithTheBand

From the Rory Gilmore Reading List seen in Season 3 Episode 16 (“The Big One” where Lorelei is reading it sitting on her couch.

Des Barres’ memoirs have often been called the quintessential read for anyone wanting to learn more about the 70s rock scene in LA. It is a good book, written well and honestly, but it tells more about the atmosphere of LA in the 60s and 70s then it does about specific rock stars. This didn’t disappoint me, but anyone reading this looking for behind the scenes stories about their favourite rock stars will not find them here.

Rather the book is about De Barres’ life, from fantasizing about being married to Paul McCartney, to her involvement with the “GTO’S,” a “groupie group” financially backed by Frank Zappa, to her involvement with Jimmy Page, Don Johnson, and Mick Jagger. While some of her relationships ended in heartbreak, De Barres has no regrets. My favourite parts of this book are the playful snipes and jabs she makes towards Robert Plant throughout. It is clear that the two were, and continue to be great friends, and it is fun to imagine Plant’s reaction when reading her writing.

De Barres’ has a follow-up novel, Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up, and maybe somewhere down the line, I’ll give it a shot.