Sunday, May 20, 2018

Book: Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock by Steven Hyden (Dey Street Books, 2018)

Hyden presents an entertaining look at his journey through the mythology and reality of classic rock, beginning as a teenager listening to the radio and collecting tapes. He winkingly likens it to the heroes journey, beginning with his adolescence and yearning to understand the music he loves, but he is not blind by the limits and foibles of the genre. While people bemoan the loss of the stature of rock music in the modern day pop structure, the author is willing to cast a critical eye as people of color, women and LGBT fans are left at the threshold which is seemingly stultified with aging while males only. His obsessions with particular musicians like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen echo the love of many suburban fans, but the author is able to dig deeper into the search for literary meaning in Dylan and the nature of class and poverty in Springsteen. That isn't say this is a dry academic book, far from it, Hyden is a journalist and this is a general interest book that has wit and charm. He delves into into the lives of aging rock stars and the phenomenon of "dad rock" and the interest people carry into such "uncool" bands as Phish, who he feels actually represent a portion of the classic rock continuum in the form of guitar solos, instrumental virtuosity and honoring their ancestors through the elaborate staging of concerts covering the entirety of a classic rock LP. Finally, he asks what will happen when all the classic rock heroes have passed away? Not with a sense of morbidity, but with clear eyed eventuality, and the possibility of carrying the torch of classic rock into that distant future. This was a fine book to read, Hyden is a very good writer with some interesting ideas, making this book well worth your time. Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock - amazon.com

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