The first time on the open road with Dad’s beat-up clunker and a brand-new driver’s lecense. That first kiss. Practicing Steve Tyler moves in the garage. Lazy summer days with nothing to do but hang out with a group of friends and the radio. Classic Rock. In Classic Rock Stories,classic rockers reveal the sometimes painful, sometimes accidental, and often hilarious process of creating the songs that you can still sing aloud.
In their own words, rockers like Pete Townshend, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Elton John, and Keith Richards tell about the drugs, the pain, the love gone bad, and the accidents that resulted in the hits.
Each story reveals insights about favorite songs and the artists who recorded them. A chatty, conversational tone permeates the book, which is divided into chapters such as “Accidents Will Happen,” “A Quick One,” and “Love and Lust,” and varied typeface breaks the text into manageable parts. Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Stevie Nicks, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Jackson Browne, and Alice Cooper tell how they felt about their songs and what they were trying to say. Morse writes with unflinching honesty: “In the sixties and seventies a rock band whose members weren’t doing drugs was an exception.” A chapter titled “Jurassic Park” gives updates on the rockers. A great choice for reluctant or musically inclined readers.
Jean Johnston, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
The secret elements that spurred musicians to write songs like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Dust in the Wind” are often, somewhat surprisingly, less than enigmatic. While writing “Sweet Emotion,” Aerosmith bad boys Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton “got into a big fight” over how to end it; Bob Dylan wrote a 20-page story that he then turned into “Like a Rolling Stone”; George Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun” while walking around Eric Clapton’s garden on a bright day. These tidbits are among the hundreds of anecdotes told by famous musicians–Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, and Grace Slick among them–about their hit songs and compiled in Classic Rock Stories. If you can hum the song, you can likely find its story in this book, which is quite broad in scope. Editor Tim Morse fails to date the artists’ comments, so it’s occasionally difficult to put the tales in context, but fans of classic rock music should still find this an entertaining read. –Jordana Moskowitz