Thursday, March 22, 2018

There Goes Gravity - A Life in Rock and Roll - Lisa Robinson

Lisa Robinson has written about rock'n'roll for decades, from the time that she and her husband Richard edited Hit Parader and Rock Scene (and wrote for countless others) through today, working as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair (not quite the same, but she produces music issues). Her writing was always gossipy'n'fun and concentrated on fashion - something not done by "rock critics" previously. In fact, her column in Creem was Eleganza, solely reporting on what the stars wore. Her book continues in a light-hearted way, but is highly engaging and difficult to put down, especially for us who lived through the exciting days of 60's and 70's rock stardom. She does still talk in a gossipy way and still mentions what was worn and by whom.

She opens the book with literally a couple pages about herself (this is certainly not an autobiography, although she probably had a fascinating youth in NYC seeing early rock'n'roll like Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and more) before jumping right into chapters on the huge stars like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. She references bits that I read back in the day in the afore-mentioned zines, like the famous quip about "Happy" being Keith Richards' song - "are you kidding? They're ALL Keith's songs"!

It is fairly incredible who she managed to hang out with and interview and many get their own chapters - Bowie, Iggy, Reed (her husband produced Lou's first solo record), John'n'Yoko, Phil Spector, Michael Jackson and on'n'on, as well as the burgeoning NY punk rock scene - Patti Smith, Television, the Ramones (Rock Scene was an early champion of the bruthers) and everyone else in between. She devotes a huge (40+ page) chapter to her friends, U2, and seems to be trying to convince people that they are way cooler than they actually are (Bono keeps saying that they were a "punk band", despite the protestations from other band members). Unfortunately, the long, long chapter on Eminem and rap is a snooze fest (does anyone who knows who Lisa is really care about rap? And, while looking for the image of this book cover, I discovered that the mysterious title is from Eminem - yeesh!) although the one on Lady Gaga is more interesting (I am astonished at how young she is, though) and she seems more down-to-earth, despite being so outrageous in her style. This also makes more sense to me (despite Robinson being fans of practically everyone she is writing about) since she started out writing about fashion in music. It is funny how all of these various people from very, very un-punk backgrounds constantly talk about how something - some action, some performance, but not their music - is "punk rock", as if they actually have an idea of what that really is. Maybe they think they need to say this to Robinson? I dunno - but it's pretty silly.

Despite the last few chapters being considerably less entertaining, the book, overall, is a blast and a great read! Buy it for the 70's rock'n'roll chapters!