cover image Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Music Made New in New York City in the ’70s

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Music Made New in New York City in the ’70s

Will Hermes. Faber and Faber, $30 (369p) ISBN 978-0-86547-980-7

In the 1970s it seemed like the end of the world had occurred in New York City; crime was rampant, the government was broke, and the idealism that had fueled protests in Washington Square Park and spurred new musical styles was shattered. Although the 1970s appeared to be a musical wasteland (remember Debby Boone?), senior Rolling Stone critic Hermes reminds us forcefully and refreshingly in this breathtaking, panoramic portrait of five years (1973–1977) of that decade that music in New York City was alive, flourishing, and kicking out the jams. He colorfully recalls how Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash hot-wired street parties with collaged shards of vinyl LPs; how the New York Dolls stripped garage rock raw and wrapped it in drag, taking a cue from Warhol’s transvestite glamour queens; how Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith took a cue from Dylan and combined rock and poetry into new shapes; how Eddie Palmieri, Willie Colón, and the Fanta All-Stars were transforming Cuban music into multicultural salsa and making East Harlem and the South Bronx the global center of Spanish-language music; and how Philip Glass and Steve Reich were imagining a new sort of classical music, using jazz, rock, African, and Indian sources. Hermes’s fast-paced and affectionate overview provides intimate glimpses into the often forgotten but profound changes wrought in the 1970s New York music scene. (Nov.)