Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

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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Documentary: “All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records”

All Things Must Pass The Rise and Fall of Tower RecordsAll Things Must Pass has been on my wishlist to view for a couple years now. It wasn’t until a friend happened to mention it on Facebook that it I finally decided it was time to watch this documentary. The movie is directed by Colin Hanks (son of Tom Hanks) and was officially released on March 19, 2015.

A little background info about me to make it understood where I’m coming from when I write this review. In 1986, at the age of 21, I got a job working as the 3rd key manager of the local Sam Goody‘s store in the mall. It was at this time, I also started dating the man that would become my husband (see picture). Craig Vanderslice Record Town 1988He worked in the same mall managing a privately owned record store called Grand Records. By the time we married (actually, we found out when we returned from our honeymoon), Grand Records had been bought out by TransWorld Music. My husband worked at the same store but it’s named had been changed to Record Town. Within a year, I was working for the same company at a store called Tape World in another mall. Our dream, like so many others of our generation was to some day own our own record store.

Now back to my review of All Things Must Pass and the story of Tower Records. What started as a small record section in the back of Tower Pharmacy in Sacramento, California in the late 195o’s was soon to become an empire when the owner’s son, Russ Solomon, asked his father if he could expand the record department. Instead, his father signed over the record business to Russ and thus, Tower Records was born in 1960. After opening several more stores in California, by 1979 they opened their first international store in Japan to huge crowds standing outside to be the first to explore the extensive racks of American and international music. Eventually, Tower Records would have stores on the east and west coasts of the U.S. along with stores in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ireland, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina.But by 2004, they were filing for bankruptcy. So what went wrong?

This documentary brings to light the real story of Tower Records from the man himself, Russ Solomon, and his early employees who grew with him and the company through the decades. From his early days working in his dad’s pharmacy, to the final days of Tower Records in New York city store as he watched it’s final minutes of liquidation before closing it’s doors forever, this movie tells of the music and madness of the record industry from the retail perspective. Along the way (in this 1 hour 36 minute film), Colin Hanks interviews Bruce Springsteen, Elton John (they opened the store early for him so he could shop), and David Grohl (he worked at Tower Records in Washington, D.C. when he was younger). You’ll also see plenty of Beatles album covers in old photos and footage from the early days and there is even a 1974 audio clip of John Lennon doing a radio ad for Tower Records and his soon to be release album Walls and Bridges. It’s an incredibly fascinating story for us baby boomers who lived and breathed for our next piece of vinyl, cassette or CD and I believe even the millennials will enjoy seeing how we saw the music industry after the juke boxes and before Napster and MP3s. And for that reason…

I rate this documentary, 4 out of 4 Beetles!




You can’t rent All Things Must Pass online at places like Amazon, NetFlix or iTunes, or you can buy a copy of the DVD/BlueRay

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Dear Mr. Springsteen: About your book…

Dear Bruce,

Or should I call you Baarrrruce, like your Italian grandfather (and mine) would have said?

rs-227987-btr-700x1057I’m well into your autobiography now, a week after it was released and well, I thought I’d sit down and write you a letter. Writing to rock stars isn’t something I do, but I’m going to make this an exception to my rule of trying avoiding celebrities at all costs.

First things first, I need to thank you for talking about the first time you saw and heard the Beatles when they invaded America via The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. How appropriate that you would bring it up in Chapter 9 (#9, #9, #9) of your book. Your love and admiration for the Fab Four open the door to my being able to write this letter to you in my blog.

You see, Bruce, I too lived in Freehold. Unfortunately,  when I was walking in, you were walking out. We moved to 62 Derby Drive in early 70’s when there was a housing boom going on outside of town. I was just 5 years old and my Italian father and Scot-Irish mother moved us down from the tough town of Rahway. Those were the days in Freehold when we could ride our bikes the one mile to the Burger King or 7-Eleven at the intersection of Route 9 and Schanck Road to buy ourselves a 25 cent candy bar.


Backyard of 62 Derby Drive (1973)

It didn’t take much for you to draw me into your story. You had me at “Nescafe“.  The smell of the coffee in the air (especially on foggy mornings), was one of those ‘ya had to been there’ moments that we Freeholders will never forget. You opened your back door in the morning, closed your eyes and took a deep breath. I can still smell the coffee to this day if I try hard enough. And the Jersey Freeze…oh, you were lucky. In the 6 years we lived in Freehold, I think my parents may have taken my two brothers and me there just once. I just remember looking on in wonder at the giant cone on the sign out front as we drove around the Freehold Racetrack circle. My dad took me to the racetrack more times that he took us out for ice cream!

My brother and I both took piano lessons at Caiazzo’s Music when it was on South Street. That didn’t last long for either of us, but I did end up taking gymnastic lessons in a studio’s basement when I was 10. Who’d a thunk that you would make that little shop famous and I’d have the bragging rights to “I took piano lessons where The Boss bought his guitar!” And yeah, that does impress people. Just saying I grew up in Freehold seems to have impress various friends and people over the years even though I only lived there until I was 11.

Still, your life and mine have continued to cross paths time and time again. One of my older brothers went on to be a millionaire after returning from Vietnam (1968-1970). He got his masters degree, bought himself a car dealership, turned it into the biggest Oldsmobile dealership in the country (Regency Oldsmobile, Lakewood, NJ) and bought himself a house in Rumson, NJ in 1985. I remember when I visited his house for the first time and I asked, “Where does Bruce live?” He laughingly replied, “On the other side of the tracks.”


Well Bruce, I’ve spent the past 40 years living in Chester County, PA. You’re familiar with the area…we’re right up the road from where The Main Point was and just a stones throw from The Devon Horse Show grounds where your daughter has competed for the past 3 years.

But the Jersey girl in me has never left and I still have dreams of being on Derby or Ascot Drives, driving down Stonehurst Blvd., and wandering around the shopping center at South Street and Route 9 across from the Burger King. Today, I have several Currier & Ives prints hanging in my house that originally hung in the American Hotel to remind me of Freehold (my parents bought them when they auction off the contents of the hotel in 1987).

And I can still smell the coffee….

I need to go back to reading your book now, because the record company, Brucie, just gave you a big advance!

See you at Federici’s!



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