Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Honest Endorsement: Bumping Into Geniuses

I just finished Danny Goldberg's 'Bumping Into Geniuses' in about three-sittings, two of which I read aloud to my special lady. I haven't been motivated to do that in a long while, but found myself drawn in by Goldberg's highly personal account of an amazing career in the rock and roll business starting back in the late 1960s. 

Goldberg began as a critic, covered Woodstock, witnessed the birth of punk in New York City, managed press for Led Zeppelin (who I was surprised to learn did not enjoy critical success when they first made it big) and later went onto manage Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Nirvana and Warren Zevon. His story is reminiscent of Cameron Crowe's in 'Almost Famous' and I was astonished at the number of big names that casually drop into the narrative.

While the pieces on Zeppelin, Nicks, Raitt and Zevon are great, and intimately and revealingly tied contextually to the zeitgeist of the time in which they were happening, none is so effective as the book's satisfyingly long chapter on the meteoric rise and fall of Nirvana. In what is really the highlight of the book, Goldberg recount's his close working realtionship with Kurt Cobain during which he rose from broke to biggest rockstar on the planet (he spurned the plutonic man-crush advanced of Axl Rose during Guns 'n Roses peak of fame) to victim of his own success and martyr of the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle. We all know how this story goes, but Goldberg's anecdotes lend a rich new layer to a pop-culture movement and media soap opera I was very aware of as a teenager. 

It's weird that Nirvana matters to me more now than they did when they were active, but after reading this I was affirmed at the relevance of them as a band in the context of my own upbringing and surprised at the new, more complete sympathy I felt for everyone involved, but most surprisingly, Courtney Love (who, it turns out, had a tougher go of things that anyone understood at the time). 

This book flips a lot of the standing press coverage, speculation and 'truth' surrounding Nirvana and other famous rock bands and incidents on its head with the credible testimony of someone intimately tied to the business both professionally and emotionally as a genuine fan. I found it be an enormously revealing and satisfying take that, in the vein of other great books, nurtured my personal development by encouraging me to reconnect and rediscover some old music in a rich way. If you're at all curious about the music industry and rock and roll in particular you should check this out.

1 comment:

  1. I want this book for X-Mas dude. You sold me.