A vivid, dramatic account of how half a dozen kinds of modern music--punk rock, art rock, disco, salsa, rap, minimalist classical--emerged in new forms and cross-pollinated all at once in the middle seventies in NYC.
Punk rock and hip-hop. Disco and salsa. The loft jazz scene and the downtown composers known as Minimalists. In the mid-1970s, New York City was a laboratory where all the major styles of modern music were reinvented—block by block, by musicians who knew, admired, and borrowed from one another. Crime was everywhere, the government was broke, and the infrastructure was collapsing. But rent was cheap, and the possibilities for musical exploration were limitless.
Will Hermes's Love Goes to Buildings on Fire is the first book to tell the full story of the era's music scenes and the phenomenal and surprising ways they intersected. From New Year's Day 1973 to New Year's Eve 1977, the book moves panoramically from post-Dylan Greenwich Village, to the arson-scarred South Bronx barrios where salsa and hip-hop were created, to the lower Manhattan lofts where jazz and classical music were reimagined, to ramshackle clubs like CBGB and the Gallery, where rock and dance music were hot-wired for a new generation.
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 Col n, 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.