Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Year the Music Died by Dwight Rounds

Ridiculously long subtitle: "1964-1972: A commentary on the best era of pop music, and an irreverent look at the musicians and social movements of the time." As the subtitle explains, the title isn't what the book is really about.

Rounds begins with the premise that the only music worth listening to was created between 1964 and 1972. While this inherently makes him full of shit, I decided to buy the book anyway because I do like reading about that period (actually, the first three books I read this month are mostly about that time).

Unfortunately, this isn't a good book. Rounds digs up some interesting factoids, but then he repeats many of them. The book is strongly biased toward singles, but by the second half of the era artists weren't necessarily putting their best material out on 45s. Much of the book is devoted to chart information, and judging from the obvious errors (lots of footnotes are messed up), I wouldn't trust it. Besides, there are more complete and better organized sources available for chart data, so it's really just filler.

There are more mistakes. I found it interesting that Mac Davis wrote Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto"... until I checked another source and learned this is totally untrue. It was actually written by Scott Davis, as the author notes 72 pages later. Roger Daltrey's name is misspelled everywhere. Zombies keyboardist Rod Argent is misnamed Ron Artest!

I spotted so many that I don't trust anything here that I didn't know before. That makes this book pretty useless unless you really care about the author's opinions about the artists, songs, and politics of the era. I don't think those opinions are insightful enough to overcome the rest. Aside from a few amusing, contemporaneous fanzine clippings which I assume are from Rounds' personal collection, I could have written this book myself and done no worse.

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