By the bestselling author of Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll and Last Train the Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley, this dazzling new book of profiles is not so much a summation as a culmination of Peter Guralnick’s remarkable work, which from the start has encompassed the full sweep of blues, gospel, country, and rock 'n' roll.
It covers old ground from new perspectives, offering deeply felt, masterful, and strikingly personal portraits of creative artists, both musicians and writers, at the height of their powers.
“You put the book down feeling that its sweep is vast, that you have read of giants who walked among us,” rock critic Lester Bangs wrote of Guralnick’s earlier work in words that could just as easily be applied to this new one. And yet, for all of the encomiums that Guralnick’s books have earned for their remarkable insights and depth of feeling, Looking to Get Lost is his most personal book yet. For readers who have grown up on Guralnick’s unique vision of the vast sweep of the American musical landscape, who have imbibed his loving and lively portraits and biographies of such titanic figures as Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, and Sam Phillips, there are multiple surprises and delights here, carrying on and extending all the themes, fascinations, and passions of his groundbreaking earlier work.
Music critic Guralnick (Sam Phillips; Last Train to Memphis) digs into his extensive archives in this revealing collection of musician profiles and personal essays. "Many of the subjects of this book," he writes, "are people that I've known for years in a number of cases, I've simply written new profiles of artists that I have written about before." In "Living with the Blues," he and Eric Clapton discuss a shared appreciation for blues legend Robert Johnson, and Clapton's experience of the blues scene in early 1960s London. In "Meeting Chuck Berry," Guralnick details his first, starstruck introduction to the musical genius, while "I Will Rock and Roll with You" and "'Til I Can Make It on My Own" chronicle time he spent with Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette, respectively. In the title essay, Guralnick turns his gaze inward ("how do you avoid repetition, how do you keep from tangling up in the web of your own words and ideas?"). "My Father, My Grandfather, and Ray Charles" is a particularly strong reflection on how his family shaped his interest in writing. Guralnick's prose remains lyrical throughout, yet never becomes overwrought. These stirring essays will inspire music enthusiasts of all ages.