Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

Book Review: “The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life” by Jonathan Taplin

The Magic Years Jonathan TaplinA couple weeks ago, while performing my side hustle as a publicist, I stumbled upon a website where I can get ARC copies of new books for free in exchange for a review. The site is filled with mostly self-published fiction authors, but a quick search on “music” and “biographies” turned up The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock and Roll Life by Jonathan Taplin.

Published May 7, 2021, this 286 page memoir is a real page turner…I only wish I had read a hard copy and could have actually turned pages instead of reading a .pdf, but that’s my problem…not the authors! I love a good page turner…literally!

If you’re a Bob Dylan fan, you’re going to love this book. If you’re a fan of The Band, you’re going to love this book. If you’re a fan of folk music, rock and roll, Martin Scorcese, George Harrison, this is the book for you. Jonathan Talpin has worked with all of them one-on-one and so many more famous names.

A lonely child, sent off to boarding to school and pegged by his father to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer, somehow the universe had other plans for Jonathan when he would take a train into Boston on weekends to go to the folk music clubs. By the time he was in Princeton, he was already working as a tour manager for some of the biggest names in the folk music industry.

Excellent book…but sometimes it can leave you scratching your head as to what was happening in between a lot of the excitement. And then there is the question of how he managed to have $500k to lend to Martin Scorcese to finance a film? I’m sure there is a terrific explanation, but for now we’re all going to have to just keep guessing.

I will add a warning that this book does get a bit political leaning in the last couple chapters and is bound to irritate some people. This is the man who wrote Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy Which left me asking, how the hell he got into that field? And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Cornflakes with John Lennon” by Robert Hilburn

Cornflakes with John Lennon Robert HilburnLast month I decided I needed to get out of the house, and while on my adventure, I came across a used bookstore where I stumbled upon a copy of Cornflakes with John Lennon: And other tales from a rock ‘n’ roll life by Robert Hilburn. I kept thinking the author sounded familiar, but it wasn’t until I actually started reading and realized that he was a Los Angeles Times music critic that it occurred to me that I had seen his name while I was doing research on Jim Croce. Hilburn had reviewed a Randy Newman show in 1972 with Jim opening and had given Randy one paragraph and Jim three & a half paragraphs worth of praise. But I digress…

No reason to beat around the bush, this book rocks from beginning to end. Published in October 2009, this 270 page tribute to rock ‘n’ roll is a real page turner. Hilburn spent over 30 years as the Los Angeles Times rock critic, so he knows what the rock and roll public want and doesn’t let them down with the stories in this book. He starts off immediately with a story about John Lennon, then fills the rest of the books with personal, inside stories and encounters with the likes of Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Janis Joplin, Ice Cube, etc. (Hell, even I liked Bob Dylan after reading this book!) And Robert lets us get a peak into the world of Curt Cobain, or so it appears…

Robert Hilburn becomes with friends with almost every rock, country and folk star he reviews and interviews along the way, even admitting to giving them advice on their shows which he seems surprised to find they take to heart the next time they hit the stage. He gets phone calls and invitations from rock gods around the world…he had the job we all dreamed of having! There were a few hiccups along the way…George Harrison got miffed and stopped taking his calls and requests for interviews. But all-in-all, Hilburn sure makes it all sound like the ultimate joy ride for the last 3 decades.

I don’t know why I’m still talking. If you’re like me and somehow missed this book when it came out, take my advice and go to Amazon.com where you’ll find plenty of used copies for under $5 and add this book to your collection. The stories about Lennon alone are worth $2! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Wishful Drinking” by Carrie Fisher

And there it was…on page 102, “Anyway, a couple weeks later, I saw George Harrison at this dinner party, as one does, so I tell him…” BINGO! Permission to post a review of this book on my Beatles blog!

A friend and I went out to Barnes and Noble last week and as usual, I headed straight for the Biography section to see which celebrity was the latest to spill their guts.  Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher isn’t a new book. It was published in 2008 and it’s not Carrie Fisher’s first book either. Have I read the previous books? No. Have I seen the movie “Postcards from the Edge” based on her first book? No. Still, I wanted to read her mother’s book, Unsinkable: A Memoir by Debbie Reynolds, and I thought this would be a great companion to it.

carrie_fisher_star_wars_bikiniIn case I’m losing any of my male readers at this point, here’s a pic of Carrie in her infamous Star Wars metal bikini. Stick with me…this gets better!

 

Carrie Fisher is the daughter of the 1950’s America’s Sweetheart couple Debbie Reynolds (actress in “Singing in the Rain”) and Eddie Fisher (singer of “Oh My Pa Pa”). This rendered her incapable of knowing what a normal life was and she makes no bones about it…she’s not normal! And she does it in the funniest of ways, telling her tales of drug and alcohol addiction, her failed marriage to singer/songwriter Paul Simon and her electro-shock therapy treatments.  Yes…you read that right…Princess Leia is a nut case and she makes no excuses. Well, actually…she laughingly makes a lot of excuses.

Read the book. At 150 pages, it’ll only take you a day and it’ll make you feel so much better about your life. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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And in the meantime, check out this great song and video by Melissa Cox – “To Carrie Fisher, with Love

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Book Review: “The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan Leitch

Last week, while I was returning my book about Franz Liszt to the local library, I spotted The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man (2005) by Donovan Leitch on the shelf. Having heard how much so many other Beatles freaks liked his music, I said to my husband, “I’ll give it a shot.”

Donovan Phillips Leitch was born May 10, 1946 in Scotland. He shot to fame in 1965 at the tender age of 19 and is probably best known for his hit single “Mellow Yellow”. By the time he was 24, he dropped out of the music scene all together.

 

 

After getting about halfway through this far out and psychedelic tour of Donovan’s life and his encounters with The Beatles, Rolling Stone, The Who, Dylan, Hendrix, etc., I decided it would be best if I took a new approach to writing this review as compared to my past ones. I’m going to let you, my readers, be the judge.

Here are several quotes from Donovan in this book:

  • Page 88: Talking about being in a suite with Alan Price (The Animals keyboardist) and Dylan – “He (Alan) comments directly to Bob on the Donovan-Dylan comparison. ‘He’s not a fake [Donovan], and he plays better than you.’ Alan was right. My guess is Bobbie would accept that.”
  • Page 98: Talking about other folksingers – “I was the only other big solo success apart from Dylan. His lyrics are without equal in all of popular music, but I think musically I am more creative and influential. I was dynamic, obsessed with developing pop style, creating new combinations, mantras for a questing youth.”
  • Page 102: On this page, Donovan blesses his readers with an entire list of every famous band/artist that has covered his songs.
  • Page 141: Talking of his first use of the drug mescaline – “The trip with mescaline is softer than LSD. Ever so slowly the Paradise appeared before me. I was in the Garden of Eden – no, I was the Garden.”
  • Page 153: When Paul McCartney paid Donovan a visit – “Another song he sang to me was a little ditty with a chorus about a yellow submarine. He was missing a verse for the tune and asked me to get one in there. So I said, give me minute, and left the room. What I came back with was not world-shattering, but he liked it. ‘Sky of blue and sea of green/in our yellow submarine… – Donovan Leitch'”
  • Page 153: Mickie Most was Donovan’s producer – “Mickie Most later said that the music we made in late 1965 and 1966 influenced the Beatles to experiment more adventurously on Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This may well be. I also stirred the Celtic cauldron and encouraged Led Zeppelin to express himself with images and sounds from our Celto-European roots.”
  • Page 165: Talking about two women that moved into an apartment with him and his friend – “Not that we didn’t love the “little darlings.” How could we not, as they floated in and out of bedrooms and bathroom in no more than a top and panties – bath time would never be the same. Not that we didn’t like the variety of meals that were prepared for us…”

At this point in my reading I was just about halfway through the book and that’s when I started to really think to myself – is this guy for real? He’s nothing more than a misogynist with a Napoleon complex! But his incessant bragging and demeaning of women didn’t end there…I forced myself to read on and finish the book.

  • Page 210: While at the ashram of the Maharishi in India with the Beatles, and after teaching John Lennon a new way of finger-picking on guitar – “In this way John began to write in a whole new way, composing “Dear Prudence” and “Julia” in no time flat. John asked me for some help with the lyrics of “Julia,” a song for his lost mother and the childhood he’d never had.”
  • Page 213: While hanging out with Paul Horn in India – “Paul Horn went on to record an album in both the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramid of Giza. Between the two of us, we probably invented what is loosely called “New Age Music,” music that induces a meditative state.”
  • Page 219: Describing a recording session for his album Hurdy Gurdy Man on which Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham all played on – “Layers of guitar were added by Page and Hollsworth, and a new kind of metal folk was created. The term metal had not been coined for music yet, but perhaps Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham were inspired by this session to form Led Zeppelin.”
  • Page 239: In 1968 (after Beatlemania was well underway) – “As I toured I endeavored to improve sound and lights production as well as protect the fans from their own excitement, pointing the way to today’s standards.”

Now, seriously readers…is it just me or does Donovan Leitch think very highly of himself? And apparently there was a glitch in the matrix in the 60’s because at two separate concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, a cop tackled a young girl and fell into the lake drawing laughter from the audience. Twice, Donovan made love to his girlfriend Enid for the very last time.

All I can say is…thank god for Donovan Leitch! Without him, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Flower Power, metal and new age music would have never become popular! I wouldn’t be at all surprise if Donovan showed Al Gore how to invent the internet too! And for that reason,…

I rate this book, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

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Almost forgot to mention…the winner of the $5 Amazon gift card from last week’s contest is: Linda Sherman!

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